Diamondbacks Game Preview #66: 6/17 vs. Twins

Roster moves

  • Selected INF Buddy Kennedy from Triple-A Reno.
  • Put RHP Humberto Castellanos on the 60-day injured list (strained right elbow).
  • Jake McCarthy optioned to Reno after Wednesday’s game.

Christian Walker is having a very strange season. He hits just over the Uecker line at .201, but despite this he was the team’s most valuable player (as measured by the average of bWAR and fWAR). Right now, he’s on track for a 4.9 bWAR campaign, which is pretty impressive considering he’s only made $2.6 million this year, which is a tenth of that of certain other first baseman. Anyone remember the Torch-wielding SnakePit mob that formed when Walker was offered? The calls for Pavin Smith or Seth Beer to get the day-to-day starter’s job first? The former has an OPS+ of 76, and the latter earned a downgrade to Reno where he scores .204 with .770 OPS…

A few areas were extremely valuable to Walker. First is its power. Christian is just two off the lead on home runs and has 39 long ball pace. That would be the highest by any Diamondback since 2009, when Mark Reynolds hit 44. The main factor behind his low average is an exceptionally low BABIP: just .187, the lowest by nineteen points of any qualified hitter in the major leagues. It’s probably not sustainable. First, no such hitter has had a BABIP under .200 for an entire season since Aaron Hill hit .196 for the Blue Jays in 2010. Additionally, Walker is above average in nearly every stroke periphery, such as the 85th percentile for hard hit rate. His expected batting average is .278, seventyseven dots above reality.

The other area where Walker has excelled is on defense: see above for some examples from the last year or so. To this point, he’s easily the front-runner for the National League Gold Glove at first base, regardless of your preferred metric. Fangraph DEF number? Top in the majors. Total Zone’s fielding runs are above average? Top in the majors. BIS defensive runs saved? Top in the majors. What is particularly impressive is that this was not always the case. As a prospect among the minors, Walker’s defense was described in terms such as “needs work” or “marginal average.” He just made an effort to get better and that doesn’t go away. Work ethic is not dependent on BABIP.

At this point, first base appears to be one of the few locations on the Arizona diamond where we seem to have a solid everyday starting point for the next few years.

Notes by Torey Lovullo

Ketel Marte is off the lineup, and “for now” is day by day. He’s dealing with one Left hamstring spasm. (Not the right thing, as we were told Wednesday.) He’ll be getting an MRI today, unlike Wednesday’s update. For his part, Ketel told the beat writers that he felt different than last time (less severe) and believed he could play on Sunday. We will see.

buddy Kennedy was called up to report in the infield. While Torey went out of his way to explain that he was only allowed to give input and not make any demands to the front office, Lovullo said “The squad structure was more balanced with five and five (5 infielders, 5 outfielders). We knew there was potential as Ketel might be out for a day or two and we would need an extra infielder. I just think five and five suit this team better with the positional split.

The main reason Jake McCarthy was sent down because was with bats “I’m getting a little slimmer for him. Making him consistent at racquets was the most important thing for us as an organization. A player never likes to hear that because they’d rather stay here and get one or two starts a week and can help us win games within those starts.

Sound by Torey Lovullo

Notes by Buddy Kennedy

Kennedy also spoke to the media before the game and I’m sure there will be some highlights of that on the Bally Sports Pre Game Show and during the game. He is a very engaging and fun guy with a lot of personality. Copying quotes doesn’t really do him justice. But hopefully you can find the time to listen to his 7 minute audio and see the game preview on Bally.

However, I have a story to share. Kennedy, the grandson of former major league player Don Money, is known as a grinder.

He shared a story about training with Mike Trout last winter. He and Trout both live in New Jersey and he has been friends with Mike and the Trout family since 2012. Trout was one of them. the first people Kennedy named after his family. Trout mentioned one day last winter that Kennedy was feeling tired and there had been a severe snowstorm, and he was considering canceling practice that day.

“Trout attacked me. You won’t make it to the show if you take days off. He conjured up this moment. He said I told you it will pay off, you just have to trust me. I did it. If you want to go there, you have to work.”

Buddy Kennedy audio

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