What to make of the Diamondbacks’ second base competition
The 2015 D-Backs were able to improve largely due to their stellar defense. The positions up the middle of the diamond were a big factor in such a turnaround. While underperforming offensively with Nick Ahmed’s .226/.275/.359 slash line and Chris Owings’ .227/.264/.322 mark, the defense provided up the middle was well above average. This defensive reality will create an issue in the upcoming season, because the Diamondbacks did not acquire Jean Segura for the purpose of sitting him on the bench. This major question is raised due to the fact that Segura made 19 errors in 2015, leading to a .969 fielding percentage at shortstop. While this fact doesn’t seem like a major jump down from Ahmed’s 13 errors and .977 fielding percentage, Ahmed ranked third in MLB with a 2.8 dWAR at the position, compared to Segura’s .4 dWAR. When you include that with Ahmed’s Gold Glove-caliber UZR of 11.3 to Segura’s UZR of .4, the defensive comparison is staggering. Chris Owings, who was the primary second baseman during the 2015 campaign, posted a dWAR of .6 with a UZR of -6.8, which only figures to boost the stock of Segura.
So why all of this talk about the shortstop position if the focus today is second base? The reason being that many, like myself, believe that Segura will be better suited defensively by sliding over to the right side of the diamond. If Chip Hale decides to play Segura primarily at shortstop, then Owings and Ahmed will be the top candidates to fill the second base role. This is assuming that Phil Gosselin and Brandon Drury aren’t given a look to start the season as the primary player at second base. Drury has been waiting in the wings ever since the trade that sent Justin Upton to the Braves before the 2013 season. If he were to post another strong spring like he did last year, he will at least deserve a serious look to join the big club. Gosselin has been with the Diamondbacks organization since the trade that sent top prospect Touki Toussant and Bronson Arroyo to the Atlanta Braves in another salary dump. In my opinion, the D-backs will be better suited with Gosselin or Drury (maybe both) in a bench role, due to their versatility and ability to play all over the diamond.
Whichever route Chip Hale and the D-backs organization decide to take regarding the roster setup moving forward, it’s always a plus to have many options all over the field, because we never know who will be injured or traded during Spring Training or during the regular season moving forward. With the big changes and improvements brought to the organization when hall of fame manager Tony La Russa was brought in to fill an executive roll, and former superstar pitcher Dave Stewart brought in as a rookie general manager before the 2015 campaign, fans have all the reason in the world to be very optimistic.