No Shortstop Battle for the 2015 Diamondbacks
By Thomas Lynch
Chris Owings should have a banner sophomore campaign. Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
This will be a much different Spring Training for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Last year at this time, just about every position in the field was set. Outside of the final spot in the starting rotation, shortstop was the only competition conducted in camp for an everyday spot. In 2015, there are multiple candidates for the rotation as well as battles at third base, catcher and corner outfield positions, to a certain extent. As for shortstop, that battle was over last March.
Chris Owings is the defending, unquestioned starter as we head to Spring Training.
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It was a mixed bag of a first full season for the 23-year old Owings. He was an early candidate for Rookie of the Year with a .398 on-base percentage through April and was named National League Rookie of the Month. During June, he was slugging .635 with 12 RBI’s through the 25th when he was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Owings returned at the beginning of September and hit .208 in 19 games. For the year, he banged out 15 doubles, six triples, six home runs and 26 RBI’s while batting .260 with an on-base percentage of .300.
Fast forward to today and Owings is the man at the position. However, there is first the matter of making a return from shoulder surgery he had in October. This was the same shoulder he injured in June. Owings is expected to be ready in time for Spring Training. However, should he not be 100% by Opening Day, the D’backs can turn to Nick Ahmed to hold the fort down. The 24-year old Ahmed, who came over in the Justin Upton deal, had 14 hits in 70 at-bats with the Snakes in 2014. Despite his .312 batting average and .373 on-base percentage at Triple A Reno, Ahmed is a much better defender than hitter at this point in his career.
If the D’backs get a 100% recovery from Chris Owings, then they should be set at shortstop for years to come. Watching him play last year, I felt there was an extra spark that he brought to the team. He should be able to hit in several parts of the order but I like him the best in the second slot. What would be a nice year for him? I would say 25-30 doubles, 7 triples and 12 home runs along with an on-base percentage of about .340. Are those realistic? Feel free to leave a comment in the section found after this post.