When A.J. Pollock went down with a broken hand at the end of May, it created a big hole in the lineup of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Not only was Pollock having an All-Star caliber season at the plate but he also covered a lot of ground in center field. Well, it has taken a while but his replacement, rookie Ender Inciarte has done a very nice job filling in for the rehabbing Pollock.
Inciarte made his Major League debut on May 1st. Mark Trumbo had just been put on the disabled list for a stress fracture in his foot and Cody Ross was just rounding into shape after suffering a hip injury in 2013. The 23-year old Inciarte immediately began to play almost every day, starting on most days and being called on as a defensive replacement on others. The early results were not pretty. He did not get his batting average above .200 until June 9th and he had only three extra base hits through June 18th. However, manager Kirk Gibson kept sticking him out there even as Inciarte was struggling mightily and it appeared he could be sent to the Minors at any point.
Since the middle of July, Inciarte has been playing extremely well. He hiked his batting average by over 20 points over the past six weeks and his on-base percentage has risen by over 30 points. In the month of August, Inciarte is third on the team in RBI’s with 11 and has been getting on base at a 35% clip while banging out a club-leading 34 hits. He has proven to be a capable leadoff hitter and has made tremendous plays in the field, both with his glove and his arm. He also has shown some extra base pop with four doubles, two triples and two home runs this month. His latest impressive feat was getting two hits off of Dodgers’ standout Clayton Kershaw. Sometimes, rookies start the other way. Guys come up and are pounding everything they see at the plate and make every play in the field before the rest of the league catches up with them. Inciarte has gotten better as the season goes along.
Does this mean Inciarte hold on to his regular job once Pollock returns? Maybe it allows him to remain as part of platoon as A.J. works his way back into shape. In any event, a guy who may have just been regarded as no more than outfield depth has played his way onto a permanent Major League roster. Ender Inciarte will head into Spring Training next year as no worse than the fourth outfielder. With the way the D’backs like shift around their lineup, that means he will be seeing a lot of action.