Infielder Chris Owings of the Arizona Diamondbacks is one of the team’s most consistent hitters
For the fourth consecutive game on Wednesday, Chip Hale, manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, wrote out his lineup card with Chris Owings batting second.
One of a team’s best hitters fills the role of the two-hole. Lately, Owings fits that description.
Hitting at clip of .444 (15-for-31) over his last eight games, Owings’ hot bat includes four doubles, a triple, four RBI, and seven runs scored. In his last 28 contests, Owings average .364 (39-for-107) with 13 extra-base hits and 13 RBI
Offering a simple explanation, Owings says he is seeing the ball well and keeping it simple.
“Not trying to do much up there,” he said. “I’m trying to hit the ball hard on a line, and luckily they are getting through right now.”
Owings’ recent performance is the result of a consistent season.
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In 95 games this season, Owings’ batting average sits at .290 (97-for-335) with 35 RBI, 16 stolen bases, and a league-leading nine triples. Owings hit .285 before the All-Star break, and in 156 second half at-bats, his average is ten points higher.
For most of the season, Owings hit out of the seven hole in the batting order. He complied a mark of .309 in that position.
However, the Diamondbacks offense produced in a recent series with the Rockies, and that was Owings batting after Jean Segura.
The “Coors Field Effect” helps to explain the surge in offense, but the offense’s production fell dramatically in the final road series at Dodger Stadium.
Looking ahead to 2017
Placing Owings in the two-hole gives Hale lineup flexibility. He can hit Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt third and fourth, and a combination of Welington Castillo, Jake Lamb, and Yasmany Tomas four through seven. This lineup could offer mix of power, speed, and contact that gives the offense several lethal weapons.
The question remain, are the Diamondbacks better off with Owings or Nick Ahmed starting at shortstop?
In the overall perspective, Ahmed is a great defender, but tends to struggle with the bat. Owings’ progress at the plate combined with his ability to athletically make every play in the field is hard for Hale to ignore.
Should the front office concern themselves with Goldschmidt’s dropping numbers and or Jake Lamb’s massive second-half slump? How does Brandon Drury factor into all of this?
The upcoming off-season should provide clarity.