Arizona Diamondbacks 2022 report cards: Outfielders
Oct 10, 2022, 11:40 AM
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Perhaps the biggest bright spot for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season was their outfield play.
The infusion of youth brought timely hits, elite defense and all around helped set the identity of the team. Especially in the second half, the D-backs outfield play emerged as one of the best in baseball.
Overall, they slashed .234/.301/.407 with 86 home runs (fourth in baseball), 299 runs batted in (tied for fifth), 59 stolen bases (fourth) and 10.3 FanGraphs’ wins above replacement (sixth).
On a rate basis, the Diamondbacks outfield ranked tied for 20th in batting average, tied for 24th in on-base percentage and 11th in slugging percentage. They didn’t hit for a high average, didn’t reach base at a high level, but made the most of their hits.
With all of that in mind, what grade does Arizona’s outfield deserve?
Varsho had a career year in 2022, his first season playing outfield an overwhelming majority of the time.
In 151 games, he posted career highs with 27 home runs, 74 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, a 4.6 fWAR and 19 defensive runs saved (DRS).
Perhaps the most eye-popping of those numbers is his 19 DRS, which tied for first in baseball among outfielders. He did that in spite of ranking 47th in defensive innings out of 51 qualifiers (minimum 900 defensive innings).
The rookie dazzled despite not being highly touted coming into 2022.
In 99 games, the 25-year-old hit .283 with 16 doubles, 43 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. Among National League rookies, he ranked third in average and OBP, fifth in runs batted in and first in stolen bases.
In the second half especially, McCarthy flourished. In 64 games after the All-Star Break, he hit .300 with 17 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs and 21 stolen bases.
The D-backs outfield may have too many mouths to feed moving forward, but McCarthy made a statement that he deserves an everyday spot moving forward.
Offensively, Thomas struggled at the MLB level this year. However, he was one of the best outfield defenders in baseball.
He ranked 49th in defensive innings but tied for 14th in defensive runs saved. His six outs above average (OAA) tied him for 12th among qualifying outfielders as well.
Thomas entered the season as the top prospect in the D-backs organization and 18th overall on MLB.com. Though he graduated from his prospect status, he’s still only 22 years old. There is plenty of time for him to work out the kinks offensively.
That being said, if, at worst, he’s an elite defensive outfielder, that should help him stick at the MLB level moving forward.
By the time Carroll got the MLB call-up, he was the No. 3-ranked prospect in baseball on MLB.com, as well as No. 1 in the D-backs organization.
After the call-up, Carroll mostly found success.
In his first 19 games, he hit .300 with nine extra-base hits and 10 RBIs. He followed that with a mini 3-for-25 slump the next seven games. After that, he finished the season with a bang, going 6-for-19 with five extra-base hits in his final six games.
Overall, the rookie ranked fourth out of nine D-backs outfielders with 1.4 fWAR despite ranking eighth in games played. In a small sample size, he ranked second among D-backs outfielders in slugging percentage and OBP and third in average.
With only 115 MLB plate appearances in 2022, Carroll hasn’t exceeded rookie limits and may be in the running for NL Rookie of the Year in 2023.
David Peralta played well in 87 games before getting flipped to the Tampa Bay Rays at the deadline. The 34-year-old had spent his entire career with the D-backs before the trade and slashed .248/.316/.460 with 12 home runs with 1.5 fWAR.
Jordan Luplow struggled in 83 games, slashing .176/.274/.361 with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs.
Cooper Hummel is representing the D-backs at the Arizona Fall League after a 2022 split between MLB and Triple-A. In 66 games at the MLB level, he slashed .176/.274/.307 with three homers and tied for the third-lowest fWAR on the roster (-0.8).
In Triple-A, he played very well, slashing .310/.423/.527 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 33 games.
Stone Garrett struggled to end the season but set the world on fire in his first 12 MLB games. Through 45 plate appearances, he had seven extra-base hits, a .410 batting average and a 1.196 OPS. However, in his final 39 plate appearances, he slashed .135/.154/.324 with a 43.6 strikeout rate.
His status as a right-handed bat should net him a roster spot with a good spring training in 2023.
Rounding out the list is Pavin Smith, who lost most of his 2022 season to injury. In his 75 MLB games, he slashed .220/.300/.367 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs.
Smith had a solid 2021 campaign, hitting .267 with 11 home runs and 49 RBIs. With the influx of young talent in the outfield, one must wonder what the future holds for 2017’s No. 7 overall pick.
Final Grade: A-
Pushing aside it being one of the most valuable outfields in baseball, there’s plenty reason to be optimistic about the productivity moving forward.
With three everyday spots, the team has potentially viable options in Carroll, Thomas, Varsho, McCarthy, and even Garrett and Smith.
Moving forward, the D-backs outfield is the area with the least amount of concern finding talent. The only thing keeping them from an A or A-plus was more offensive production.