2015 Expectations: Center Field
By John Tenney
The Arizona Diamondbacks have quite a bit of depth going into Spring Training this year for almost every position on the diamond. Not to be overlooked is Center Field, a spot that features fan favorite A.J. Pollock.
The depth chart for the Arizona Diamondbacks for this position is fairly loaded. With that in mind let’s look at the three gentlemen who will compete for the starting spot at center field.
First up is A.J. Pollock. Last year he played in 75 games batting in the lead-off spot most of the time to take advantage of his speed.
During those games last season he hit .302/.353/.498 after returning from a season shortened by a broken right hand on May 31st, 2014 after being hit by a pitch from Cincinnati Reds ace Jhonny Cueto.
Pollock was on a torrid pace at the plate, and his absence clearly hurt the Arizona Diamondbacks offense.
Pollock turns 27 this year, so naturally the questions remains – can he remain healthy for the entire season? If he can, then the projection at FanGraphs could be proven wrong.
This upcoming season, FanGraphs projects Pollock to play in 127 games while hitting .262/.342/.427. Sure the numbers come down a bit, but if he can stay healthy, Pollock will be tough to beat for the roster spot in center field. He has the chance to be a superstar.
Next up is Ender Inciarte. The left handed 25 year old fielder is listed as being a potential player in each of the outfield spots in this season’s depth chart. Last season saw Inciarte bat a respectable .278/.318/.359 over the coruse of 118 games.
I think this adds value to the Arizona Diamondbacks depth chart, and could influence a very competitive Spring Training for Coach Hale in his first season as the Diamondbacks skipper. FanGraphs projects Inciarte to play in 104 games, possibly in right or left field while batting .254/.298/.343 with 5 home runs and 33 RBI’s.
These numbers suggest a downward trend in offensive production, something that can’t happen to any of the Diamondbacks let alone a potential lead-off spot on the batting order.
Last, but certainly not least is David Peralta. In an Twitter post on November 7th, 2014 by Jack Magruder of FoxSports Arizona, he mentioned that GM Dave Stewart has planned on using either Inciarte or Peralta in left field. A very interesting idea seeing that we haven’t accounted for Mark Trumbo yet.
Like Inciarte, he’s listed on the current depth chart as being a player that could be used in right, left and center field. Last season saw Peralta play in 118 games while batting .286/.320/.450 from the left side of the plate.
Peralta also managed to drive in 8 home runs while collecting 36 RBI’s. FanGraphs projects his offensive production will fall slightly to .270/.309/.417 while hitting 10 home runs and 49 RBI’s over 105 games.
Overall, I expect the competition for the starting spot in center field to be fierce. I think that letting the players compete for a spot is the right way to go.
I expect the person who competes during Spring Training to come out on top, hopefully we’ll see a good center fielder who can bat in the lead off spot this season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks will need all the speed they can get on the base paths to keep up with a great Los Angeles Dodgers club and a re-tooled, loaded and hungry San Diego Padres club this season.