Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home4/derok6/public_html/dbacksvenom/components/com_sh404sef/shInit.php on line 37
2010 Diamondback Position Battles - First Base | October
logo
First Base is the position that needs to see the biggest improvement for the D'Backs in 2010.  During the 2009 season, the D'Backs used eight different players at 1B, and as a group they hit a collective .228/.321 OBP/.396 SLG.  The first basemen's OPS (On-Base+Slugging) of .717 finished 7th among positions for the D'Backs last year, only ahead of CF (.672).  For the National League as a whole, First Base was the strongest batting position, hitting .282/.373/.485 (.858 OPS), so this is a position where the D'Backs really need to improve.  [caption id="attachment_252" align="aligncenter" width="379" caption="Brandon Allen and Conor Jackson"]Brandon Allen and Conor Jackson[/caption] Here are the stats for the eight players who played 1B in 2009 for the D'Backs.
Player G AB R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
Chad Tracy 63 204 23 45 4 28 21 29 .221 .291 .348
Josh Whitesell 30 93 7 20 1 13 23 23 .215 .376 .312
Brandon Allen 30 103 13 21 4 14 12 39 .204 .287 .388
Mark Reynolds 27 93 17 30 6 20 11 33 .323 .400 .591
Tony Clark 16 50 4 8 3 6 8 17 .160 .276 .380
Rusty Ryal 7 18 4 4 1 6 1 8 .222 .286 .556
Conor Jackson 6 20 3 4 0 1 2 4 .200 .273 .250
Chris Snyder 1 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 1.00
Team Total 162 583 72 133 19 88 78 153 .228 .321 .396
From this group, only Mark Reynolds hit well, but he is probably locked in as the 3B next year.  Chad Tracy, who played the most games at 1B in 2009, will probably not be back in 2010.  The D'Backs have a $7M option for Tracy or a $1M buyout, and all indications are that Tracy will not be back.  Tony Clark is also no longer an option as a starter, while Chris Snyder and Rusty Ryal are in the mix at other positions.  So, that leaves Brandon Allen, Conor Jackson, and Josh Whitesell as the top internal options at 1B for 2010. Brandon Allen (23), LHB 2009 (AZ):  116 PA, 202/284/385, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 13R, 0/0 SB, 12BB/40K 2009 (AAA): 228 PA, 306/373/563, 13 HR, 40 RBI, 39R, 6/0 SB, 20BB/38K 2009 (AA): 274 PA, 290/372/452, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 39R, 1/2 SB, 30BB/47K 2008 (AA): 173 PA, 275/358/615, 14 HR, 31 RBI, 30R, 3/1 SB, 19BB/41K 2008 (A): 366 PA, 279/372/527, 15 HR, 44 RBI, 57R, 14/3 SB, 41 BB/83K Brandon Allen was drafted by the White Sox in the 5th Round of the 2004 draft, and was ranked as the #4 prospect in the White Sox organization by Baseball America last year. Allen came to the D'Backs from the White Sox in the Tony Pena trade last summer, and immediately became the D'Backs' best hitting prospect. After the 2009 season, he was ranked as the #14 prospect in the AAA Pacific Coast League by BA. Allen's strongest skill is his power, as he led the Carolina League in slugging in 2008, and then followed that up with 14 HR in 41 games for AA Birmingham, including two off the Rays' David Price in his first AA game.  In 2009, he slugged 24 HR between four different teams across three levels. Along with the power, Allen, a former high school linebacker, has pretty good speed for someone 6'2" and 235 lbs.   One potential negative for Allen is one that is too familiar to D'Back fans - strikeouts. He averaged 125 strikeouts per season between 2007 and 2008, but showed significant improvement in 2009, with only 85 strikeouts to go with 50 walks between AA and AAA.  In the majors however, he struck out 40 times in 102 At Bats, including 11 in 22 AB against LHP. Defensively, Allen is still a work-in-progress.  He's shown improvement over the last two years, but still has suspect hands and can look tentative on throws. Allen is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, and is off to a slow start - 212/369/327. Conor Jackson (27), RHB 2009 (AZ): 110 PA, 182/264/253, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 8R, 5/0 SB, 11 BB/16K 2008 (AZ): 612 PA, 300/376/446, 12 HR, 75 RBI, 87R, 10/2 SB, 59 BB/61K 2007 (AZ): 477 PA, 284/368/467, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 56R, 2/2 SB, 53 BB/50K 2006 (AZ): 556 PA, 291/368/441, 15 HR, 79 RBI, 75R, 1/0 SB, 54 BB/73K 2009 was a wasted season for Conor Jackson, as he only managed 28 games before going on the Disabled List with pneumonia and Valley Fever.  He finally appears to be healthy, and is hitting well in the Dominican Winter League - 333/523/567 through October 28. The three years from 2006-2008 were remarkably consistent, with Jackson putting up averages around .290 and an OPS above .800.  Jackson is still unsigned for 2010, and is arbitration-eligible.  He signed for $3.05M in 2009, and would probably sign for a comparable amount next year. At this point, indications are that the D'Backs will bring Jackson back in 2010. He should be a starter for the D'Backs in 2010, although where he plays (LF or 1B) probably depends on the progress of Brandon Allen. Josh Whitesell (27), LHB 2008-2009 (AZ): 142 PA, 200/352/313, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 8R, 0/0 SB, 25 BB/31K 2009 (AAA): 274 PA, 293/398/471, 8 HR, 5 RBI, 35R, 1/1 SB, 40 BB/48K 2008 (AAA): 560 PA, 328/425/568, 26 HR, 110 RBI, 86R, 1/2 SB, 74 BB/136K 2007 (AA): 487 PA, 284/425/512, 21 HR, 74 RBI, 78R, 6/2SB, 87 BB/107K Whitesell was a disappointment at the major league level in 2009, and at 27 already, his window of opportunity as a major league 1B may be closing with Brandon Allen coming on strong. He has hit well in the upper minors, but has always been a little old for his league.  The walk numbers have been decent, but the power dropoff last year is a concern. Whitesell is nothing special defensively or on the bases.  Platooning with Allen is not an option since they both hit left-handed.  His best bet for playing time will be if the D'backs decide to start Allen in AAA next season, but even then, his likely role would be as a backup player. Summary Going into 2010, the Diamondbacks lineup seems to be set at RF (JUpton), C (MMontero), 3B (MReynolds), and SS (SDrew). The battle for 2B was discussed here, while the battles for 1B/LF/CF involve Conor Jackson, Brandon Allen, Josh Whitesell, Gerardo Parra, and Chris Young (and maybe Eric Byrnes?).  The best case scenario for the D'Backs should be a healthy Jackson in LF and Allen at 1B, with Whitesell as a reserve.  If the D'Backs decide to start Allen in AAA, their best option would be to bring in a free agent 1B/LF to upgrade from Whitesell or Parra. Options here include players such as Nick Johnson, Adam LaRoche, or Hank Blalock.