The Diamondbacks were set to field the youngest group of position players in the majors at 26.2 years of age– just ahead of the Twins.
They have been waiting for one of their young star position players to take the next step in their development and become a threat in the heart of the lineup and a wizard with the glove.
We thought it could have been Chris Owings, and he really hasn’t reached that point, and while David Peralta certainly broke out, he was a surprise compared to the other guys.
After showing strong signs in 2015 before missing time with injury, Jake Lamb might be that guy, and he has showed it 19 games into the 2016 campaign.
Last week, Chip Hale finally placed Lamb in the two-hole for the series opener against the Giants at AT&T Park, and he should never leave that spot.
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Lamb fits that role both in a traditional and a sabermetrical sense. A traditional evaluator would tell you that a manager’s No. 2 hitter has to have a high on-base percentage, make good contact, have a patient approach, and have the ability to do the little things including getting bunts down.
A sabermetric guru would tell you that the No.2 hitter is more important to run production than most would think. He actually comes up to bat in the same situations as the third hitter, just more often, so as a result sabermetric analysts tend to say that the No.2 guy should be better than the three hole hitter, which is typically reserved for the best hitter.
Lamb has blossomed into one of the Diamondbacks’ best hitters, he doesn’t strike out often, walks a lot, and he does all the little things. He is perfect for the number two hole, and frankly he should have been hitting in that spot to start the year.
In 64 at-bats, Lamb’s .373 on-base percentage is second on the Diamondbacks, and his slugging percentage and OPS are fourth and third on the team.
The starting third baseman’s pitch recognition is what has been so impressive about Lamb this year. He has walked ten times, almost as much as he has struck out (16 times), and those ten walks are second on the team behind Paul Goldschmidt.
He has consistently laid off bad pitches especially on the outside part of the zone, and he works the count well, all qualities that a number two hitter needs. Lamb is a pull hitter against offspeed and breaking pitches, but he sprays the ball to all fields against fastballs.
Another great sign: Lamb is often shifted because when opposing teams look at the spray charts on him, he is a pull hitter. Lamb has shown the ability to go the other way essentially becoming an all fields hitter. At some point teams won’t be able to shift against him if that trend continues.
Lamb needs to improve against lefties (.133) but that is nitpicking at this point especially when Brandon Drury is hitting over .300 in 10 games off lefties this season.
Segura, Lamb, Goldschmidt, and a combination of David Peralta, Wellington Castillo, and Yasmany Tomas sounds like a great top of the lineup, doesn’t it?