Final Prediction for the Arizona Diamondbacks' Key Spring Position Battles
The Diamondbacks have started well this spring despite tempered expectations in 2015. Entering Saturday, Arizona sported a 6-4 record and is one of only seven National League teams with a positive run differential (+4).
Several key position battles have not disappointed thus far. The catcher, left field and second base position have provided D-Backs fans with a glimpse of the future as well as players who could possibly break out this season.
Let's take a look at the final prediction for these three position battles with the regular season approaching rapidly.
Entering spring training, Tuffy Gosewisch, Oscar Hernandez and Peter O'Brien were set to compete for a starting spot behind the dish in 2015. Gerald Laird will likely serve as a backup to whoever wins the job.
However, Hernandez is likely out for six to eight weeks after fracturing a bone in his left hand. What is it with D-Backs fracturing their hands?
That leaves the competition between Gosewisch and O'Brien for the starting position. Gosewisch had the early edge considering he has major league experience. O'Brien spent last season in High-A and Double-A.
Through Friday, both catchers are nearly identical statistically hitting .308 with one RBI apiece. Gosewisch has yet to strike out while O'Brien has scored two more runs.
If both players are to perform similarly throughout the spring, Gosewisch would likely grab the job based on experience. Yet, Gosewisch is definitely overachieving offensively so far. He is a .213 career hitter.
O'Brien also provides power that Gosewisch lacks. He hit 34 home runs last season in the minors.
The edge has to go to the youngster O'Brien because his offensive potential is greater than Gosewisch.
Winner: Peter O'Brien
The left field position will likely remain a three-horse race between David Peralta, Ender Inciarte and Cody Ross.
Once again, the players battling for a starting spot have nearly identical statistics. Through Friday, Peralta is hitting .357 with three RBI and two stolen bases. Inciarte is hitting .368 with three stolen bases. Ross is hitting .333 with three RBI.
Because Ross is by far the oldest of the three, the battle should end up between Peralta and Inciarte for the starting spot on Opening Day.
Both played a lot last season and were successful in their first major league action. Peralta set a franchise record with 60 hits in his first 50 games while Inciarte set a rookie franchise record with an 18-game hitting streak.
Right now Peralta remains the favorite to win the job. Inciarte played most of last season in center field and has the better arm of the two. Meanwhile, Peralta is more of a natural left fielder and possesses more offensive power.
Because Arizona is confident with A.J. Pollock in center field on most days (.438 average this spring), Peralta's edge on offense will help him beat out Inciarte.
Winner: David Peralta
The second base position is where the D-Backs' biggest spring training surprise has occurred.
Entering the spring, Aaron Hill seemed to have the position secure without much competition despite hitting .244 last season.
Move over Hill, here comes Brandon Drury. The 22-year-old third baseman has simply crushed major league pitching this spring. Drury is leading the team with a .467 average (minimum 10 at-bats), two home runs and six RBI.
Although third base is his natural position, Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com reports that the D-Backs plan to use Drury at second base, a position he played in the Arizona Fall League, more often this season.
As long as Drury can handle the transition to second base without issue, his hot bat is hard to ignore. Plus his youth makes him a more attractive option than Hill, who could possibly be used as a trade target later in the season.
Winner: Brandon Drury