After a spring full of loud performances, Chip Hale has some tough decisions on his plate. The collective group of Jean Segura, Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings, Phil Gosselin and Brandon Drury all hit somewhere on the spectrum between .359 and .517 in Cactus League play. They combined for 25 doubles (10 of which belonged to Mr. Drury), 10 triples and 13 home runs. Drury played in the most games (25) while the others were between 17 (Segura) and 23 (Gosselin). Both Drury and Gosselin got time at positions outside of the middle infield, but all five are in the middle infield mix in some capacity. So it’s up to Chip Hale to figure out how to use everybody.
Here’s what I suggest to start the season: retain Segura, Ahmed, Owings and Gosselin, send Brandon Drury to AAA Reno for about a month (at least that’s the plan). With that in mind, here’s how the playing time for the first month might work out.
- Let Nick Ahmed start about 75% of games and make sure he starts every game against left-handed starters
- Have Jean Segura pick up the remaining 25% of starts at shortstop
- Jean Segura gets roughly 50% of the starts at the keystone no matter who’s on the mound
- Give Chris Owings 40% of the starts a second, coinciding with the days that Segura plays short
- Let Phil Gosselin have 10% of the starts at second base to keep him sharp there
And since this trickles down throughout the roster…
- Let Phil Gosselin wrestle a start or two against left-handed pitchers away from Jake Lamb (but not all of them)
- Let Phil Gosselin snag a start or two against left-handed pitchers away from Socrates Brito and/or David Peralta (but not all of them)
Sending Drury down is a risk – he could struggle to re-adjust to the minors as he did last year after a hot spring when he “lost his swing” in Mobile. The idea, however, is to let the veteran guys play things out just a little further. If Ahmed starts terribly slow (as he did last year) or Owing proves that he’s just not the hitter he used to be, the hook is quick and up comes Drury. The team seems keen on keeping Rickie Weeks, Jr. around, and that’s okay for now. But should he fail in his bid to be a useful bench piece, that could also play into Drury’s favor ever so slightly. The idea is for Drury to be a near-full time big leaguer, but he’ll have to come off the bench some and can do so in the outfield should he continue to ease into the new position(s). Jake Lamb’s progress against left-handed pitching could also play into Drury’s usage, so there are a ton of thing to watch for.
As we’ve talked about before, these kinds of issues usually resolve themselves. Everyone will not continue hitting .350+. Spring stats don’t translate especially well to the regular season and it’ll be a different story when these guys are facing full big league pitching staffs night-in and night-out. Some will rise, some will fall. If any one falls, Brandon Drury is the quick answer. Delaying his arrival helps control his service time and contract status, plus let’s Hale make the best decision on who to replace. Entering spring, it seemed someone would falter and the situation would clarify itself, but that hasn’t happened and it leaves Brandon Drury in the cold for a little bit longer with the understanding that it won’t be very long at all.
If you’ve read this website for the last few years, you know I’m a Drury fan. I really like his skill set and think he can be an average or better big league regular. But Hale has had his hand pressed with all of the strong performances. I truly believe the situation will sort itself out once the competition level rises. If it doesn’t, that’ll be because everyone is playing so well, which really isn’t a problem at all. While we’d all like a clear and defined roster, there are simply too many players worthy of playing time for that to be a reality. And although that’s confusing on some level, it really is a good thing at the end of the day.
*Note: a bunch of moves will probably get announced today and I will look like a big idiot but it won’t be the first time, so ¯_(ツ)_/¯
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FanGraphs Stats Glossary
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Cot's Baseball Contracts
BP Base Running Stats
Previously on The Pool Shot, the guys explained some of their favorite advanced stats. Hitting, including wRC+, HHAV and batted ball; pitching (38:00), including FIP, xFIP and SIERA; and baserunning and defense, including UBR, UZR and DRS (58:00).