D-backs OF Alek Thomas making early case for NL Rookie of the Year
PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks have seen a downturn since the turn of June after posting a 15-14 record in May.
But one of the bright spots for the D-backs has been the ascension of outfielder Alek Thomas, who is making an early case for National League Rookie of the Year despite not making his MLB debut until Arizona’s 29th game of the season on May 8.
Since their inaugural season in 1998 as an expansion franchise, the Diamondbacks have never had a player win the award.
“Well of course I’m going to be biased because I know what he’s built on and I know where he comes from and where he’s been developed,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of Thomas’ NL Rookie of the Year chances. “I just think he’s doing a fantastic job and I want that to continue.
“I don’t want there to be any complacency. I don’t want there to be any cutback in his preparation or hard work or his belief that he can go out there and do his job. He has been a consistent at-bat, he’s anchored center field for us and done a really nice job defensively. We believe in playing on both sides of the ball here.”
Coming into Friday’s game against the Detroit Tigers at Chase Field, Thomas was tied for second among NL rookies with six home runs, tied for third with 39 hits and tied for fifth with seven doubles.
Thomas was also ranked fourth with four stolen bases while still never having been caught stealing in his big-league career.
Among NL rookies with a minimum of 140 ABs, Thomas’ .275 average ranked fourth, his on-base percentage of .338 ranked third, his slugging percentage of .451 ranked fourth and his .789 OPS ranked third.
“He’s accepted coaching, so he’s a solid baseball player that’s got a lot of room to grow and get better,” Lovullo said. “And if he continues on this path, he should have a very good year. But I don’t want him to get sidetracked by that.
“I want him to continue to focus on today and helping this team win a baseball game today and I’m sure he’d tell you the same thing. It’s nice to see these young players come up and have success — that’s a credit to what they did in player development.”