Three breakouts that are key to the Arizona Diamondbacks' success in 2024

These three players could be extremely important to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2024.

Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Yankees
Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Yankees / Adam Hunger/GettyImages
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Oct 26, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Jordan Lawlar (10) works out prior
Oct 26, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Jordan Lawlar (10) works out prior / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Lawlar

Jordan Lawlar was the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick in 2021 and made his Major League debut last year. It wasn’t very pretty, as he only had four hits and struck out 11 times in 34 plate appearances. It was a small sample size, so take it with a grain of salt. A ton of great players had not-so-good September debuts. Plus, the improvements he made in the minor leagues this year were extremely promising.

Lawlar batted .278/.378/.496 through 490 plate appearances. He hit 20 home runs with a .218 isolated slugging percentage while stealing 36 bases in 41 attempts. Lawlar ended his year with a .389 wOBA and 126 wRC+, however none of this is the best part of his year. He showed a lot of improvements with his plate discipline. In 2022, he had a quality 12.4% walk rate but struck out about a quarter of the time with a 25.1% K-rate. That led to some questions about his hit tool in the long run. However, he cut his K% down to 20.1% while keeping a solid 11.4% walk rate.

Do keep in mind, however, that 80 of his plate appearances came at the Pacific Coast League, where they used the automated ball/strike zone. Strikeouts went down, and walks went up, so don’t take his K% drop from 21.4% at Amarilloto to 15% at Reno all that seriously. He wasn’t the only player who saw a massive dip in K% last year once he reached Triple-A.

Lawlar is a great defensive shortstop. His arm is more than good enough to play on the right side of the infield and make the deep throws from shortstop. However, his arm accuracy is fringe-average, but it shouldn’t be considered a liability. Lawlar is one of the fastest runners in baseball and his 30 feet/second sprint speed ranked top ten in his brief MLB call-up.

If Lawlar plays anything like his potential, then he could win Rookie of the Year. The Diamondbacks didn’t have a ROY winner in their franchise history until Corbin Carroll won it last year. They have a chance to have two in back-to-back seasons if Lawlar takes over shortstop full-time. You’re talking about a 30/30 candidate with Gold Glove defense up the middle.