Arizona Diamondbacks 2015 Review: Ender Inciarte
By Joseph Jacquez
After covering the Arizona Diamondbacks for numerous seasons on this site, I can officially say that the 2015 season whizzed by faster than the rest. I could have sworn that I was just attending Opening Night. Unfortunately the off-season is here and that means we get to review every player that played a significant time on the 25 man roster for the D-backs this past year.
I can easily make the argument that the strongest part of the Arizona Diamondbacks as an organization is the unbelievable amount of depth in the outfield both at the Major-League level and in the farm system. It’s a testament to the front office and the scouting department because when the organization let Justin Upton go, the outfield was a big concern. Now, the complete opposite is the case.
A.J. Pollock might be the star of the current group, but Ender Inciarte is quickly establishing himself as a valuable asset on a daily basis for manager Chip Hale and the rest of the Snakes’ coaching staff.
The key for Inciarte and the rest of the outfield for that matter is playing time. Outfield depth is both an asset and a hindrance because it’s hard to find time for players that on any other team would be starting every day. In 2014, Inciarte played in 118 games and had a decent year with a .278/.318/.359 slash line, but coming into Spring Training, many wondered if Inciarte would be the odd man out especially with the addition of Yasmany Tomas.
Instead Inciarte played in 14 more games than he did the previous year and his production at the plate increased. He once again providied Gold Glove worthy defense.
At the plate, Inciarte improved his production in 2015 in all of the important categories. He hit over .300 for the first time in his career and produced a .303/.338/.408 triple slash line with a .747 OPS while receiving more plate appearances and at-bats.
Inciarte even hit two more home runs than he did in 2014 , going deep six times and he drove in more runs (45) despite playing the majority of his games at or near the top of the lineup. Of course, there is a reason for that: his speed is too valuable. He finished in a tie for second on the team with 21 stolen bases, the same number as Paul Goldschmidt and eighteen behind Pollock.
Inciarte had his best statistical month at the plate in July when he hit .339 with an OBP of .351 and a OPS of .851. That is when Hale and the coaching staff realized Inciarte should be in the lineup more and he played in a season high 30 games in the month of August. He was also better in the second half, hitting .319 in 69 games compared with a .287 average in the first half.
His ability to hit for a consistently high average, get on bases, and steal bases makes him so valuable.
Inciarte’s energy in the clubhouse and his chemistry with his teammates, something you can’t quantify makes him even more valuable to this team in the near future.
There isn’t much Inciarte did wrong in 2015, his second season in the Majors. If I had to nitpick, his defense did slide a little bit compared to 2014. His .978 fielding percentage was worse, and he committed six errors in 2015 compared with just four in 2014.
Despite this, his overall numbers are far better than the majority of outfielders. The 24-year old Inciarte will probably look to improve on his .227 average versus left-handers in 62 games and his production at the plate tends to slide off in the 6th and 7th inning. Right now, these are out minor things that don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.
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Ender Inciarte is too valuable for the Arizona Diamondbacks to trade him.
However, at the same time the number one priority is to acquire a realizable front line starter and considering the rotation was the only weakness in 2015, the D-backs will have to do whatever it takes.
Hopefully Inciarte remains in Arizona and is featured consistently at the top of the lineup.