Arizona Diamondbacks: Examining the Outfield at the All-Star Break
By Randy Holt
The Arizona Diamondbacks are currently off for the All-Star break. Despite the conclusion of the festivities, we’ll have to go just a bit longer without seeing the Snakes take the field in Phoenix. Nonetheless, it does give us an opportunity to evaluate where various parts of the roster stand at this point.
In contrast to the infield, the outfield has been something of a revolving door for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018. This is largely due to injury, as two-thirds of their outfield has been out for significant time throughout the year. A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza, Jr. both missed time, with the latter already succumbing to two stints on the disabled list. Jarrod Dyson is also currently out, with no timetable for his return. That has left David Peralta as the only real mainstay throughout this year, while also forcing a trade for Jon Jay from the Kansas City Royals.
Let’s take a look at the various elements of the Arizona Diamondbacks outfield:
We’ll start with Peralta because he has truly been a catalyst for an offense that has sputtered at times. In fact, there was very well an All-Star case to be made for him. He’s built on some early production in his career to turn in a strong 2018 thus far. His .282 average and .344 on-base fall relatively in line with his career averages, while his 123 wRC+ is his best since a breakout 2015.
Where Peralta has really left his mark, though, has been in the power game. His 16 homers are already just one short of his career high. His .212 ISO represents the highest of his career as well, and his best mark since 2015. Some slight adjustments to his swing are allowing him to flash the power more consistently. It’s fairly clear that he’s a power threat each time up, forming a nice 1-2 punch with Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup. He’s a key piece for this lineup and one of the most underrated players in baseball.
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Pollock is an interesting case, because he’s had a strong year when healthy. However, it’s a year that has been marred by injury. He’s been limited to just 207 plate appearances as a result. When he’s in the lineup, though, he’s been a major asset, already matching his 2.2 WAR from 2017 in over 200 fewer plate appearances. Like Peralta, we’re seeing more power than we ever have from Pollock. He’s hitting the ball hard at a higher rate than ever (45.5%), while posting the highest ISO figure of his career (.290). This, in addition to continuing to reach base at an impressive clip of .348.
While he’s never gotten a ton of recognition for it, even after a 6.8 WAR season back in 2015, Pollock really is a complete player. The influx in power is a tremendous asset for a player who already made a ton of contact and played a really strong defensive game in centerfield. The Diamondbacks scuffled a great deal in his absence, so his presence will be key in the second half. One also hopes that 2018 isn’t the least time we see him don a Snakes uniform, given his status as a free agent at the end of the year.
Steven Souza, Jr.
If there was an all-disappointing team for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Souza would headline the list. Seen as something of a replacement for J.D. Martinez, even to a lesser extent, the Snakes really haven’t gotten much out of their right fielder. This is largely due to injury, though, as he has only 84 plate appearances to date. A spring shoulder injury has led to multiple DL stints and has really hampered him in the power game. That power was an essential element of Souza’s game after the departure of Martinez in free agency.
Souza has posted an ISO of only .117 to date, while reaching base at a paltry .262. Luck hasn’t done him any favors, either, with a BABIP of only .259. Not exactly inspiring numbers from the marquee addition of the spring. However, before the break, Souza did begin to show some signs of life. His wRC+ crept over 100, while he was able to post an OBP near .300. This was in addition to a .235 ISO. Consider that he’s making more contact than ever before (over 75%) and hitting the ball hard at a rate of almost 45%, and there’s certainly reason to hope for more production from him moving into the second half.
I’ve spent the time since the Jay trade being far too excited about what he brings to the team as a depth outfielder. Injuries have pressed him into more time than is necessary, but he’s been exactly what you’d hope him to be. The results for Jay haven’t been too spectacular, with an average in the low .200s and an OBP just barely over .300. But he’s been hitting the ball hard and running into some unfortunate luck.
The important thing to remember with Jay is that he’s a supplemental piece. As a fourth outfielder, he’s ideal. He’s going to go up hacking and make a great deal of contact. There’s a little bit of pop and a really solid glove, though a below average arm. With the Diamondbacks starting outfield now healthy, Torey Lovullo can press Jay into situations where he’s most likely to succeed. With that, we should see an uptick in production as far as the stat sheet is concerned.
Dyson remains out with an injury, but has been a key part of the Arizona outfield nonetheless. He did much of the filling-in for Pollock out in centerfield. His skill set is different than the remainder of the outfielders on the roster, given his high-upside on defense and his speed on the bases. Each of those elements is sorely lost if he’s out long-term.
Outfield MVP: David Peralta
Outfield Offensive Player of the First Half: David Peralta
Outfield Defensive Player of the First Half: Jarrod Dyson
Most Underrated Outfielder: David Peralta
Outfielder in Need of Improvement: Steven Souza, Jr.
With injuries decimating the group, Peralta is an easy pick for the bulk of the awards here. He’s been the most important part of their outfield, as well as the most consistent offensive presence. Dyson filled in admirably for Pollock, posting the best defensive metrics out of the bunch. Even with a strong first half, Peralta remains the most underrated element of the starting three in the outfield. And finally, Souza is truly the outfielder that needs to show us the most in half no. 2, especially with the way things have started for him.
Next: Diamondbacks at the Break: Infielders
Stayed tuned, as we’ll have some analysis of the starting pitching and bullpen before the Arizona Diamondbacks get the second half underway. They’ll host the Colorado Rockies starting on Friday, in what promises to be a big set.