June 19, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Willie Bloomquist (18) slides into third base ahead of the ball for a triple during the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
When the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired Willie Bloomquist via free agency in 2011 on a one-year deal, many looked at Bloomquist as a platoon player and nothing more. Let me tell you D’backs fans, to this team, he is much, much more than just a platoon player.
If you actually look at Bloomquist, he does fit the definition of a platoon player. He plays third base, shortstop, some second base and outfield. But, to the D’backs, he serves as a catalyst for the team offensively hitting in the lead-off role.
Bloomquist has experienced injury setbacks over the past two seasons, most recently with a back injury that kept him out of the lineup at the end of last season. Manager Kirk Gibson feels that Bloomquist is critical to the D’backs in a number of ways and that his injuries really hurt the team last season
“It has hurt us; he’s the spark plug to our team,” Gibson said. “There’s no question it’s been a big blow, but it’s been part of it.”
When he has been healthy for Arizona, he has been extremely productive. He can hit lead-off, second or from sixth on down. Last season, he hit .302 with 21 doubles and five triples in 80 games. He stole seven bases and drove in 23 runs.
In 2011, he hit .266 with 10 doubles and two triples in 97 games. He stole 20 bases and drove in 27 runs for the club.
Over his career, the 34 year-old veteran has played with four MLB teams (Kansas City, Seattle, Cincinnati, Arizona) and is a .269 hitter. In his two seasons with Arizona, he has been better than his average, hitting .283 in 177 games.
Without an established lead-off hitter, Bloomquist can play a very valuable role for the club this season. By playing multiple positions in the infield, he provides depth and insurance in case either of our newly acquired shortstops (Gregorius, Pennington) are inadequate for the full-time job.
With Bloomquist, you know what you are getting: hustle, heart and versatility. He is a Kirk Gibson-type of player and will be essential to the success of the club this season if, an only if, he can stay healthy.