Gerardo Parra might be the most polarizing player on the Arizona Diamondbacks. None of it is his own doing; he is not controversial in either his words or his actions. Rather, there is a segment of fans who love his game and wonder why the D’backs haven’t locked him up to a long term deal. Then there are other fans, both of the team and outside the team who don’t understand what the fuss is all about. They know he is an excellent defender but that he doesn’t have the numbers of a “traditional” corner outfielder. Which side are you on?
How 2013 went: If you were to pick someone who was the team’s everyday MVP in the first half of the season (outside of Paul Goldschmidt), Parra would be your guy. While the other seven members of the lineup struggled, Goldy and Parra were the two guys keeping the team in first place. For the first three months of the season, the 26-year old Parra sported a slash line of .301/.361/.453. The game that best illustrates why fans love him came on May 18th against the Miami Marlins. Parra led off the game with a home run and then threw out the potential tying run at the plate during the team’s 1-0 victory. On the season, he set a career high in home runs with 10 and drove in 48 runs with a .268/.323/.403 line. He also set person bests in games played with 156 and at-bats with 601. Defensively, Parra won his second Gold Glove and co-led the Majors in two categories: Assists (with Alex Gordon) with 17 and Defensive Runs Saved (with Andrelton Simmons) with 41.
Outlook for 2014: Parra fans need not worry about his playing time. He will be the starting right fielder and on the days he is not there he will be in center or left. Parra is the outfield’s only left-handed hitter and its best defender. In the batting order, I can see him in the second spot most of the time. If there is a negative on him, it is that his base running needs work. He stole ten bases last season and was caught ten times. In the field, Parra will still be one of the game’s best. I wouldn’t expect much more production offensively unless you are of the belief that he wore down at the end of the season because he had never received more than 500 at-bats before 2013. The bottom line is you can win with Gerardo Parra as an everyday outfielder. Just don’t act like he is the second coming of Andre Dawson.