2021 Diamondbacks Opening Day Roster in Retrospect
By Jake Oliver
The Infielders of the Diamondbacks have changed A LOT
Josh Rojas: Josh Rojas foreshadowed his breakout year by having a massive Spring Training. He was one of the top players in the spring in terms of hits and average. He had to fill in for Nick Ahmed on Opening Day. That meant he played shortstop. I think that’s a big reason why he started struggling a lot. He was playing a different position and just got off to a slump. He was missing pitches, making bad contact, and just looked lost at the plate. In his first 37 at-bats, he had TWO hits. Not Good. Then, on April 18th, he filled in for a player and made a last-minute spot start. He led off the game with a homer and has been fantastic since. Sometimes all it takes is just one swing to fix everything. His overall batting line for the season across 124 games is.269, .346, .428, .774, 109 OPS+, 30 doubles, 3 triples. 11 HRs, 42 RBIs, 7 SB, 52 walks, 119 K’s, and has started games at SS, 2B, RF, LF, and 3B. That multi-position versatility is impressive! In case you didn’t know, Rojas grew up in the valley and supporting the Dbacks!
Christian Walker: Walker, where did everything go wrong? This season has easily been the worst in his pro baseball career. Honestly, I’m not sure that he is truly healthy. He had two separate long stints on the Injured List for oblique issues. Oblique injuries can last a really long time, especially if you come back too soon. After all, Steven Souza Jr. missed 3 months or so with an oblique strain in 2018. He just hasn’t looked right at the plate all year. His timing is off, his swing is off. He isn’t getting that massive power that we know he has. I truly think he is just injured. Now, he’s set to lose playing time to Seth Beer and Pavin Smith. I hope Walker has a big final few weeks to secure his spot on this team for next year. His defense at first has been better than either of the other two. Nonetheless, his batting line for this year is .232, .305, .351, .655, 78 OPS+, 44 runs, 80 hits, 18 doubles, 1 triple, 7 HRs, 38 RBIs, 34 walks, 90 K’s, and has played in 98 games. “Sky” Walker needs to relearn the Force once more.
Asdrubal Cabrera: The old man of the team. The grizzled veteran of 15 years in the big leagues came to the team late in spring training. He started really hot, hitting everything in sight. Then, he suffered a bad hamstring strain. Upon his return a month or so later, he continued to lead the club. He taught our young guys what it’s like to play in the big leagues. I was shocked he wasn’t traded at the deadline. Around mid to late August, the team and Asdrubal agreed to split ways and put him on waivers. This way, he could get on a playoff-contending team and have a chance to make the playoffs. He could be a part of meaningful games late in September. The Reds claimed off waivers and he’s been there ever since. His batting line for the Dbacks over 90 games was .244, .324, .392, 94 OPS+, 34 runs, 21 doubles, 7 HRs, 40 RBIs, 33 walks, and 73 K’s.
Eduardo Escobar: Mr. Smiley! Oh, how I miss his excitement, joy, and smiles! I even miss his fear of cats. Escobar in a lot of ways was the heartbeat of the team. He brought passion, fun, and energy. Alas, the Diamondbacks failed this year in being competitive. As such, due to him being in the final year of his contract, the team knew they would need to acquire something for him. He played from mid-2018 to mid-2021, three good years of 69 HRs, and 240 RBIs. His batting line with the team this year ended as 98 games, .246, .300, .478, .778, 107 OPS+, 50 runs, 14 doubles, 3 triples, 22 HRs, 65 RBIs, 29 walks, and 85 K’s. Our 2021 All-Star will be in the playoffs this year, go Milwaukee!
Nick Ahmed: The ole’ captain of the infield. Our longtime shortstop has had another Nick Ahmed year. That means he’s been excellent on defense and leaves a lot to be expected on offense. This has been one of the worst offensive years in his career. He’s under contract with the team through 2023. With no real shortstop prospects developing yet, Geraldo Perdomo has struggled mightily this year, Ahmed should continue to be the shortstop for the team. Originally acquired in the Justin Upton trade, his batting line this year so far is 127 games, 46 runs, 29 doubles, 3 triples, 5 HRs, 38 RBIs, 7 SBs, 34 walks, 102 K’s, .222, .282, .340, .622, and a 69 OPS+. SlickNick indeed.
Josh VanMeter: He came to the Diamondbacks in the 2020 season by being included in the Archie Bradley trade. He is a pure second baseman and pinch hitter. He struggled early on in the season and ended up being sent back down to Triple-AAA Reno. While there, he showed a lot of improvement and got called back up in late June. He’s been up with the club ever since showing off good power. Overall for the year, he’s hitting at a clip of .207, .298, .362, .660, 79 OPS+, 23 runs, 17 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HRs, 32 RBIs, 2 SBs, 30 walks, 69 K’s, and has done that in 98 games.
Wyatt Mathisen: I’m not sure anyone truly expected much from Wyatt, a career Quad-AAAA player. What that means is he’s too good for Triple-AAA but not good enough for the MLB. In his case, he’s had a down year throughout multiple systems. He got demoted from the team after struggling in limited at-bats across 23 games. From there, he got purchased by the Rays. The Rays then sold him to the Mariners after he struggled for the Rays. The Mariners released him after he failed to get much going in Triple-AAA for them. Most recently, he signed a minors deal with the Giants. Hopefully, he can get back on track there. His line with the Diamondbacks this season is .119, .255, .190, .455, 24 OPS+, 3 runs, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 5 walks, and 21 K’s. He simply struck out way too much while making no contact.