Diamondbacks’ Jake McCarthy provides perspective on Corbin Carroll’s struggles

May 22, 2024, 7:45 AM

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Jake McCarthy does not have the $100 million contract, external attention or expectations of his All-Star teammate Corbin Carroll. But he has experience following up a promising rookie campaign with a tough start to the following season.

McCarthy went from Arizona’s 3-hole hitter down the stretch of 2022 to Triple-A Reno by the end of April 2023.

He made his way back to the Diamondbacks for the rest of the season after a month in the minors. The 26-year-old has been a consistent producer in a lineup without much continuity this season (.283/.357/.414).

A significant reason for the erratic offense is Carroll not having the encore to his Rookie of the Year 2023 that many envisioned. He entered Tuesday hitting below the Mendoza line at .191 and with -0.2 rWAR.

“The game is hard and I’d say like, you never truly arrived, right?” McCarthy told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday. “He had such an unbelievable season last year, and he’s an unbelievable player. He will continue to be an unbelievable player.

“I think when you have the year he did, maybe you have an X on your back … The kid is more than capable of making an adjustment. I think everyone struggles in this game at some point. I think he’s gonna be better for this moving forward. He’s super hardworking, super talented. I just think over time, he’ll look back and laugh about this, but it’s good to gauge, in my personal experience, what went wrong there. How do we avoid that happening again?”

Between Carroll’s start and injuries to Geraldo Perdomo and Alek Thomas, the speed dynamic for Arizona has been lost compared to last season. The D-backs are second in bases taken (wild pitches, fly balls, etc.) but 28th in steals.

McCarthy said adjustments from pitchers and hitters is always fluid, describing the back-and-forth as a chess match. Pitchers in their adjustment to Carroll have targeted the up-and-in quadrant with heat.

“It’s like maybe you’re swinging at this pitch more often than last month and they’re going to exploit that until you prove otherwise … or even like, ‘Hey, if we don’t have to throw this pitch over the heart of the plate for this guy to swing, we can get him to chase maybe early in the count,” McCarthy said.

Jake McCarthy, a hopeful pain in the butt for D-backs opposing pitchers

McCarthy made his MLB debut in 2021. He looks back on that cup of coffee and feels there was too much chasing of slug. His exit velocities are not as high as 2022, but he has been walking more and striking out less to reach base more consistently so far this year.

“I’m trying to be the best player I can be, but that might look differently year to year,” McCarthy said. “I think the best version of myself is being a pain in the butt for that pitcher four or five times a night. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying to slug and hit doubles, but I think the game dictates what your approach should be at the plate.”

His mindset is that it can be dangerous to obsess over replicating past successes with the evolving nature of the game.

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Diamondbacks’ Jake McCarthy provides perspective on Corbin Carroll’s struggles