Jake Lamb on final All-Star vote: ‘I want to win badly’
Jake Lamb is not one to seek out attention, but there is no avoiding it with the kind of season he is having.
Healthy and in the D-backs’ starting lineup on a regular basis, Lamb is hitting .293 with 20 home runs and 61 RBI. The home run total ties him for fifth in the National League, the RBI number places him fourth, and his OPS (on base+slugging percentage) of .996 leads the Senior Circuit.
He’s also one of five players vying for the final spot on the NL All-Star team, with his only chance of reaching the game in San Diego coming if he garners enough fan votes.
So, if he wants to be an All-Star, he needs to get the attention of baseball fans everywhere. And to get the attention of fans, he needs it on himself.
And rest assured, Lamb wants to be an All-Star, and if that means more eyes are focused on him, so be it.
“I want to play in the All-Star Game, so I want to win badly,” Lamb told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “At the end of the day, I don’t really care if people know me or not as long as opposing teams know me and that just shows that I’m playing well.
“But as far as media coverage and all that, I don’t really care about that. I just want to play well and win baseball games; that’s kind of all I want to do. Anything else is just extra.”
Lamb is competing with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Starling Marte, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun, the San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt and the Colorado Rockies’ Trevor Story. As of Thursday afternoon Marte was in the lead, with Lamb in fourth place ahead of only Braun.
If Lamb is unable to close the gap by 1 p.m. Arizona time Friday, when the winner will be named, it will not have been due to a lack of credentials or effort from the Diamondbacks organization. In the last few days various memes have been produced and a social media pitch encouraging folks to #VoteLamb has been born, while the team partnered up with the Tamp Bay Rays to try and get their guy, Evan Longoria, onto the AL roster. The D-backs also welcomed an actual lamb to the clubhouse Wednesday, and many of Lamb’s teammates have done their best to stump for the 25-year-old.
For a guy who does not seek out the spotlight, there’s nothing he can do to avoid it now. It’s not that he’s against the media or thinks he has a dull personality — in fact, he thinks he has “one of the better personalities” — but he’d rather people get to know him without cameras being part of the equation.
“I don’t like talking about myself, but when the news came out we had a game that night, and I was kind of thinking about it, I was sitting on the bench, and I don’t know if I’m ever going to get another shot an All-Star Game,” he said. “So you might as well embrace it, might as well go on all the social medias and re-tweet everything possible, have these interviews and just have fun with it.
“I’ve definitely embraced it, figured I’ll talk about myself for three, four days, and then it will be over.”
Nothing is guaranteed, but based on the trajectory Lamb is on, this will not be the last time his name is mentioned with regards to an All-Star Game.
One of the team’s better prospects for a handful of seasons, it took a little time for the third baseman to gain traction in the big leagues. He received 126 at-bats in 2014, hitting .230 with four home runs, 11 RBI and 37 strikeouts. Last season he began the season in the starting lineup, but after a hot start was derailed by injury, finished with a .263 average, six home runs, 34 RBI and 97 strikeouts.
To say there were high expectations for him going into this season would be fair, but it’s difficult to imagine anyone predicted production that places him on Paul Goldschmidt’s level.
But, it’s all part of the growth of a major league baseball player.
“I made changes in the offseason with my swing, just to get my barrel in the zone earlier and stay in the zone longer, and that just allows for more opportunities to hit off-speed pitches, take the fastball to left-center,” he said. “It’s kind of seeing the league for a second year in a row and kind of seeing these pitchers that I saw last year and a little bit in ’14, kind of get an idea of how they want to pitch me and all that stuff.
“As you keep playing this game at this level you get more and more comfortable, and the confidence is there — especially this year with the success that I’ve had. So, all that helps and it plays into the success that I’ve had.”