Arizona Diamondbacks 2011: The Race for the First-Base Job
One of the more intriguing position battles this spring is the battle for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ first-base job. There are three candidates to win the position—Brandon Allen, Juan Miranda and Russell Branyan.
Let’s see how they are doing so far this spring and who appears the favorite to win the starting job in the desert.*
Miranda: .250/.417/.536 with two HRs and two doubles in 28 ABs.
Allen: .333/.344/.467 with no HRs and four doubles in 30 ABs.
Branyan: .464/.500/.857 with three HRs and two doubles in 28 ABs.
Based on these numbers so far, it would appear that Branyan is the front runner for the job. However, according to a post by Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic, the Diamondbacks view Branyan as more of a left-handed power hitter off the bench against right-handed pitching.
This would be a good role for Branyan considering that he had an .874 OPS against righties in 2010 and can’t play a lick of defense. Pinch-hitting suites Branyan well.
Thus, the true front runner for the job seems to be Miranda, the former New York Yankee prospect, who has never done much at the major-league level. However, his opportunities have been limited. In three years, he has only had 94 plate appearances. That’s what happens when you have Jason Giambi and Mark Teixeira in front of you.
Miranda, who is also a better defensive player than both Branyan and Allen, is a career .281/.367/.478 hitter with 62 HRs in four minor-league seasons.
That leaves Allen as the apparent odd man out. It’s pretty clear that the Diamondbacks don’t have much faith in Allen at this stage of his career.
Since the Diamondbacks acquired Allen from the Chicago White Sox in 2009, they have gone out and also acquired Adam LaRoche, Xavier Nady, Miranda and Branyan—all of whom have played or can play first.
Most likely Allen will be ticketed for Triple-A. However, if Miranda stumbles out of the gate, look for the Diamondbacks to call him back up quickly and give him the chance at the major-league level he deserves.
*Stats were as of March 12.
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