With 2016 being clearly out the window, the Diamondbacks’ attention will shift to 2017. That likely means using the balance of the remaining season to run some experiments, something we saw plenty of last season. The key idea here is identifying who is and is not part of the team’s future as they continue to build towards attempted contention. Brandon Drury is squarely in the crosshairs as a promising bat that’s currently playing out of position defensively. But as the season’s progressed, Drury’s performance has varied.

When most young hitters arrive on the major league stage, pitchers begin attacking with a simple plan: a steady diet of fastballs. It goes without saying, if a hitter can’t handle major league heat he won’t stick around long. Like many others, Drury had to establish that he can handle that heat, and by and large, he has. This season, Drury has done well consistently against fastballs. In fact, it’s really the only type of pitch that he’s proven himself able to handle well. When you show that kind of ability, well, pitchers have a way of tipping the scales.

Brooksbaseball-Chart (6)

To start the season, Drury received a ton fastballs. Getting a fastball three out of every five pitches (or more) doesn’t exactly leave a lot of guessing for a hitter — he knows it’s coming, he just has to hit it. Drury did that and then pitchers did what they do, namely stop throwing so many heaters. By June, he was barely over 50% fastballs thrown, still a reasonable mark, but far fewer than before. Instead, pitchers started supplementing with breaking balls and a few more changeups. To date, Drury hasn’t hit those pitches nearly as well. It should be noted that few guys do, but it seems there has been some lag time in the change in offerings and the adjustments Drury has been forced to make at the plate.

Sure enough, as the rate of fastballs fell and the rate of secondaries climbed, Brandon Drury’s production waned.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.20.04 PM

May was the only month in which he received more than 100 plate appearances, though if it weren’t for the All-Star break he may have been on pace to reach that number in July, too. It’s a little interesting that he’s seen a ton of fastballs again in July, but that’s just an eight game sample, so try not to draw too many conclusions. It’s likely a function of which pitchers he’s run up against this month more than anything.

A part-time player, Drury has seen his playing time ebb and flow as well, which may not be helping speed up his learning curve. It would stand to reason that if Brandon Drury has some growing up to do at the plate, he’d best be standing at that plate in the first place. It’s not uncommon to see pitchers start with this kind of plan against a rookie, and our old friend Trevor Story experienced the same phenomenon, only to adjust and keep on hitting. Drury will surely need to do the same. He’s not getting the Peter O’Brien treatment just yet, but he’s going to have to show some merit against non-fastballs if he wants to keep receiving his favorite pitch.

In the field, it’s also been a work in progress. Drury has played four different positions this season. Of his 69 games played, which is nice, he’s logged the bulk of his time in the outfield where he hadn’t played until this year. Coming up as a third baseman, it’s pretty clear at this juncture that he’s blocked there and while he’d made a mostly-smooth transition to second, he’s not seeing a lot of time at the keystone either. Instead, he’s played right and left field where the metrics and our very own eye test tell us he’s not exactly a defensive wizard. Instead, he’s hemorrhaged value there and it’s taken a massive toll on his overall value this season.

With some adjusting at the dish, Drury can be a better than league average hitter, if only by a little. But where the team plays him on the diamond will truly determine his worth. In the outfield he appears to be a liability. At second, he looks like he can be average. With more line drive than over-the-fence power, a corner is a tough place to play him in Chase’s sprawling outfield. With his profile fitting best at second, the team once again needs to decide what its every day middle infield will look like in the near future. Nick Ahmed certainly assists a pitching staff that’s not all that good and Jean Segura has played himself into the long-term asset discussion, but that still leaves Drury on the outside looking in. Shifting Segura back to short and giving Drury the keys to second base job would help give the offense more punch, but it would take its toll on the other side of the ledger by decreasing run prevention abilities. There’s no win-win here.

At the end of the day, all of that could make Brandon Drury a trade chip, though there are reports that the team would like to hold on to and won’t consider dealing him. If that’s the case, the D-backs might be best-served to limit Ahmed’s playing time next season rather than forcing Drury into the outfield where he struggles. Selling low on Ahmed or high on Segura might be better than running Drury out there as an outfielder next season. Brandon Drury will be a good player in time, and while he’s got some growing up to do at the major league level, it’s still unclear where that will take place. The Diamondbacks would be best-served to at least make sure he keeps playing regularly in 2016 so that growth can occur, then they can make a call on how best to arrange their assets.

Tagged with:

10 Responses to Improving Brandon Drury is Imperative for 2017

  1. Anonymous says:

    ill put my all star break critiques here. You guys deserve more hits, and its all great work. The reason I think you don’t get more comments , is because its so detailed and not a lot of fans are up to or have the time for the advanced stats. so that said.

    Hermann isn’t a catcher. He’s as much of a catcher as Phil Nevin was. He did it to make a roster. Now his athleticism is why he made the roster, and the fact he made adjustments at the plate, and he’s hit the magical 28. Play him in cf and lets see what he can do. Do this, because you guys are so hard headed about Yasmany developing into a hitter and defender. Never going to happen, imho, but you guys owe the pitching staff and season ticket holders some refunds. Yes he’s been that bad. Michael Bourn, great pick up, but not the future. Give Hermann his shot. give this team/offense his shot. Cracks me up, hearing the local media, fans, Chip hale, the obivous complain about lack of timely hitting when that’s all Hermann has done.
    Segura he’s a little fire plug strength wise, and that’s why, he’s still going strong at the plate. I’m not moving him to short for Drury, because, if Drury can handle the demands of ss, then he can definitely handle second. Also, Owings can play ss/2nd too. Main reason too, Segura is going to be in demand heavily over the next two years, and he plays an awesome second base, average ss. drury may give you the same ss as segura.

    Brandon Drury, play him at short, he has the feet,and baseball instincts. does he have the hands? Range well no one is Nick but Nick needs to go back to whatever he was doing last year, during his 2 week hot stretch. someone should work Nicks bottom hand/arm action. back to drury, best way to find out about his ss, will be playing him there. what an explosive swing he has.

    Of two minds.
    the tuffy, beef, hermann catcher controversy
    well, first I knew the starting staff was too much of a question mark, and the the loss of Aj, would be too much of a blow for this team to even compete for a wild card spot. Wellington isn’t a front line catcher, never will be, doesn’t have receiving instincts. Can he hit? guess so for a catcher. Personally I think he’s just an ambush artist against rh’ers, and does well against lefties because Mark Grace who knows a couple of tricks. Those couple of tricks help him against marginal rh’ers too. and many lefties, too are marginal.

    that said going with wellington and i’ve been consistent in my criticism of this cost you guys this decent staff you put together. Yes Beef can catch the Greinkes, but so can Hermann for that matter.

    Here’s the two minds. Hermann can possibly definitely hit, but go back to my Nevin comment. This (discovering this guy can hit)wouldn’t have been discovered if tuffy started the season like he should have with us. and the triple a staff did also benefit from Tuffy.

    Tuffy, I like handlers, always have. the analogy, a beautician isn’t a magician comes to mind because handlers can definitely make beautiful women more beautiful, and sometimes cover the schnaz of decent looking ones. Can they cover the real flaws though, of course not.Geez RDLR, injury withstanding, wouldn’t still be on the staff if not for Tuffy this spring.

    Nothing was more embarrassing than the pitch calling to start the season, and in many points now. Not to mention the 125 tosses that just look like in difference. the skip to second too though is amazing, its going to be the new technique, better than the old airmails though that’s for sure.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      Drury’s definitely less of a shortstop than Segura. Segura has more range and there’s a reason Drury has almost never played short except for emergencies.

      It’s looking more and more like Herrmann can do Beef’s job. That makes them a bit redundant and Herrmann is at the very least cheaper and left-handed. Would still like to see a better framer back there, but I’m not sure it’ll happen as the team doesn’t seem to believe in pitch framing.

      • Anonymous says:

        this is what makes markets. Segura has more atheleticism and range at ss, no doubt,but is having his best season defensively/offensively yet. At ss, he had some real bad tendencys especially with throws. I like him at second, because his same aggressive approach offensively, is same as his defensive too. at ss, that gets exposed. Now, my contention is we are stuck watching Yasmany, these guys have there own fantasy last place team. at least they like drury. Now Drury obviously played third because, that’s his natural position. And does have more defensive atheleticism than Lamb does at the position too. I always with you on Lamb, potential because of his defense, size/natural power left handed, and amazing batting eye/pitch recog, but changing his swing path, is why he is what he is now. yeah, he’s the man at third. that said he was on his way out without that change in swing. Back to Drury, he may be atheletic enough to cover ss, and since this season is done, why not see what his bat can do and great arm, baseball instincts can do there. Manny Machado Drury. Peralta is due back, and as I predicted in the offseason, that his back would be a problem and that was another bad reason for trading Ender. another thing i got right. Along with trumbo more or less being silver slugger with o’s too. Now add, castillo will be the primary catcher, for same reason as Yas. Working Hermann in the mix in cf makes most sense. also btw, someone screwed the pooch with o’brien who had a different approach at the plate since spring training.

  2. Lamar Jimmerson says:

    Drury surely has the athleticism to improve to being an average-ish corner outfielder. We know he has the arm. I think he just needs more time there. If he could become average out there, then all of a sudden you have a really nice moveable piece, and insurance should something happen to Lamb or one of the middle infielders.

    Honestly, this team will improve a lot should it regain health and should the roster subtract Tomas, and probably Castillo, from the mix. An outfield mix of Pollock, Peralta, Owings, Brito, and Drury sounds and looks more like what you all have been calling for. An infield mix of Lamb, Ahmed, Segura, Goldy, Owings, and Drury looks plenty good as well.

    Anyway, my point is that the Dbacks need be in no hurry to deal Drury. He gives you good depth, and he’s cheap. If they feel the need to make a trade from their viable player mix, Segura is probably the guy to deal, as they control him for less time and he’s more expensive.

    All comes down to the startig pitching…

    • Lamar Jimmerson says:

      Sorry — one other thing. Would it be worth it, in this experimental half-season, to see how Lamb looked in left field? Kris Bryant’s ability to do that is a huge help to the Cubs. If Lamb could handle left, at least sometimes, that would be another way to get Drury in the lineup. And yes, I know Lamb isn’t as athletic as Bryant, but I’m also not sure he’d be terrible out there. May be worth looking at.

      • Jeff Wiser says:

        Lamb is probably above average at third, so there’s no real reason to shift his position. I’m guessing they don’t want to mess with a good thing. It’s easier to find left fielders than it is to find third basemen. While that would clear room for Drury, I don’t think it’s warranted.

        I agree that Drury is worth keeping, I wouldn’t trade him personally. It’s just that he doesn’t have a clear home yet. Perhaps it comes down to how much confidence they have in his ability to improve his outfield play. Statcast data would/will be very helpful here.

  3. coldblueAZ says:

    I believe Drury will excel once he has a regular starting position. It’s unclear whether the Dbacks are willing to go that route.

    Good stuff, Jeff.

  4. Anonymous says:

    2nd half adjustments and changes:

    Trade beef for a young power arm, a 4th outfielder and a failed starter that had previous upside but has fizzled out. This will allow us to see what we have in Herrmann and Tuffy is a perfect backup catcher.
    Trade Segura for a left handed power bat that can play the corner outfield and again a young power arm. This opens up 2nd base to a Drury/ Owings battle.

    Allow starters to pitch and learn for the rest of the year, while mixing in starts for Godley. Miller can’t really be this bad can he??

    Off season plan:
    Re sign Huddy something like a 3 for 14 deal.
    Move RDLR to back end of the pen.
    If Hermann flounders behind the plate sign a Nick Hundley this off season.
    If Drury loses the 2nd base battle package him in a trade with Ray or Corbin for a Sonny Gray and possibly Sean Doolittle package.
    If Drury wins that job then you will put C.O. in that package you will have to add another peice. Say maybe a Delgado or Bracho.
    That will have our roster looking something like this next spring:


    Left handed power bat(Segura trade)
    Veteran right handed bat (Weeks or..)


    Something like those would improve our Bullpen RDLR, Doolittle. As well as addition to rotation in Gray. Offense will be better with health from Pollock and Peralta.

    Just my foresight. If we are gonna go for this thing we need to add a 2 to slot behind Greinke and some more power arms in the Pen.

  5. […] pointed out not so long ago that major league pitchers had gone away from throwing Brandon Drury fastballs. As is the case with many young hitters, Drury received plenty of heaters early in his big league […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.