Arizona Diamondbacks 2015 Review: Jake Lamb
By Thomas Lynch
During Spring Training, there was a battle for the third base position for the Arizona Diamondbacks. It pitted rookie Jake Lamb, who saw time with the club in 2014 against Yasmany Tomas, a high-priced free agent signing from Cuba. Lamb ultimately won the battle, resulting in Tomas starting 2015 at Triple A Reno. Unfortunately for Lamb, he would fall victim to an injury soon after that.
Lamb started 2015 on fire with 12 hits in his first 29 at-bats. However, a foot injury suffered on April 18th knocked him out of action for almost two months. With a six week layoff, it was only natural that once he returned there would be a drop off in production during his initial at-bats. Lamb still managed to have an impressive rookie campaign, his batting average as high as .288 on August 10th. Though he does not receive as many accolades in the field as Nick Ahmed and Paul Goldschmidt, Lamb was steady at third base with a .973 fielding percentage.
The foot injury could not come at a worse time. Lamb was hitting .414 before he was hurt; granted it was a small sample but it would have been hard to imagine that he would have endured a 15 for 67 slide in June given how much he was stinging the ball early. He also had a tough finish to the end of the season hitting only .240 in the final month. Lamb struck out 97 times in just 350 official at-bats, a rate that would put him at about 140 had he received 550 at-bats.
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It was a positive first full campaign for Lamb, the kind that should assure him of the everyday job at third in 2016. However, a logjam in the infield for the D-backs plus the emergence of Brandon Drury can have some consequences for him. Drury came up as a third baseman and even if slides over to second, there is still Aaron Hill ready to take away at-bats from Lamb against left-handers. Do the D-backs think about opening up another third base battle in Spring Training? Or is Lamb the guy until he struggles? The Arizona Diamondbacks have some decisions to make in the infield next year but I believe Jake Lamb will progress in his second full season just like David Peralta did in 2015.