The Proven Leader
The entire lineup will be anchored and focused on Paul Goldschmidt in 2017. In a down year for his power numbers, he was fourth in the league in on-base percentage at .411 with 32 stolen bases. Finishing 9th in the MLB in stolen bases, he single-handedly created pressure on the pitcher and defense without tapping into his full potential.
While his 24 home runs and 96 RBI’s didn’t stand out according to his standards, his ability to walk, steal, and score were tops in the league. His power should come back as Goldy sees more pitches in the strike zone with Pollock and Peralta back in the lineup. Paul Goldschmidt is a lock to produce big for the D-Backs offense, but the rest of the infield has some questions to answer.
Brandon Drury looks like the favorite heading into Spring Training at 2nd base. But like Lamb, he needs to prove that he can be consistent.
Not just some fluke
Jake Lamb, an NL All-Star snub, had a monster first half of the season hitting 20 homers and 61 RBI’s. A scorching hot first half came to a screeching halt when Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, and Matt Carpenter beat him for a roster spot.
Lamb went on to hit .197/.283/.380 after the All-Star break. Hitting lefties was his biggest flaw with a batting average of just .164. With lots of infield depth, Lamb still has something to prove to keep his job at the hot corner.
Brandon Drury looks like the favorite heading into Spring Training at 2nd base. But like Lamb, he needs to prove that he can be consistent. Drury was sent down to Reno on June 20th, but he was recalled almost immediately due to injuries. He had his ups and downs, but the ending of the season was magical for Drury.
He hit .341/.400/.604 in September in 24 games. This showed enough for the front office to view Jean Segura as expendable. With 2nd base wide open, Drury should get the first call to lock down the position for years to come.
Must Take Next Step
2017 is a career year for Chris Owings just as much as it is for Drury and Lamb. But Owings has proven he can play every day in the big leagues. The real question is if he can take the next step towards greatness. Owings has strung together three average seasons in a row with missing some games due to a shoulder injury in 2014. 2016 was a step up in just about every category for Owings, but three things changed for him.
He picked up his stolen bases rate by stealing 21 bags in 119 games compared to 16 steals in 147 games in 2015. He raised his batting average from .227 to .277 in just one year. Lastly, he cut his strikeout rate from 26.1% to 18.7 %.
All three of these statistical changes put him at the top of the depth chart at shortstop. The front office would love to see this former 1st rounder pick it up even more and compete for an All-Star spot by July. Expect Owings to take another step forward in 2017.