O’Brien’s got power, but it’s too early to tell if he can really help D-backs
It is way too early to determine what, if anything, Peter O’Brien can add to the Diamondbacks’ lineup if he is an everyday player.
The most logical guess is that he hits a lot of home runs and strikes out an awful lot. What we do know is that he is 25 years old, is one of their best prospects and has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. That he got called up on Friday was really no surprise. With Chris Owings heading to the disabled list, A.J. Pollock likely out for the season and Brandon Drury and Yasmany Tomas struggling, Arizona needed a jolt to their lineup and a warm body. O’Brien had mashed 17 home runs and driven in 52 runs at Triple-A Reno while hitting .322. He had earned this call up.
And now that he is here, it is time to see if he can help this team. The D-backs need to run him out there on a regular basis and let O’Brien prove if he’s worthy of staying on the big league roster. On Friday, O’Brien grounded out in his first at-bat and then struck out in his next three, looking over-matched by breaking balls and swinging at bad pitches. On Sunday, he hit a mammoth home run — one of those no-brainers the second he made contact. The three-run shot in the first inning gave the Diamondbacks a 4-0 lead. That O’Brien recorded outs in his next three at-bats didn’t mean as much because of the home run. He gave Arizona the jolt they needed and provided Robbie Ray some early run support.
No one is expecting O’Brien to win a batting title. No one expects him to hit .300. But if he can provide some much needed power in the D-backs’ lineup and provide the “Earl Weaver three-run homer” like he did Sunday, he very well may be worth keeping around. But like Nick Ahmed, there is a floor as to what you can hit. He will not stick around hitting .111. And while the long ball is why he is here and what will keep him around he does need to play decent defense in left field, work out some walks while providing protection in the lineup and put some balls in play.
He reminds me very much of Dave Kingman, who spent 16 years in the major leagues and hit 442 home runs while batting just .236 and striking out 1,816 times.
The Diamondbacks’ season has not gone as expected. But this team isn’t just built for this year. The nucleus and talent is there to contend in the near future. Whether O’Brien is part of that nucleus is up to him. But it is nice to see him get his opportunity. And if nothing else he gave the fans a reason to ooh and ahh on Sunday — likely the first of many times he will give fans something to talk about as they exit Chase Field.