02 July 2011
As of July 2nd, the Diamondbacks sit at 44-39, three games behind the first place San Francisco Giants. Although the team has received excellent production from most positions, the offense from First Base has been lacking, .239/.310/.392 with 8 HR and 39 RBI in 83 Games. Juan Miranda's average has slipped to .214, while Xavier Nady has only a .660 OPS. Should the Diamondbacks be looking to make a move?
At First Base, Juan Miranda has an overall batting line of .214/.317/.409, with 7 HR and 21 RBI in 159 AB. While the overall OPS of .726 is respectable, the trendline has been heading downhill for Miranda. After hitting an excellent .262/.377/.538 in May, Miranda slumped to only .151/.211/.283 in June, collecting only 8 Hits in 53 AB for the month. For the year, Miranda's line drive rate is only 14.9%, the lowest on the team. Miranda has also hit poorly with Runners on Base, batting only .143 with Runners in Scoring Position (5 for 35), and only .197 with Runners on Base (13 for 66).
Platooning with Miranda has been Xavier Nady, who has hit .254/.294/.366 with 2 HR and 25 RBI. While he does have a higher batting average and more RBI than Miranda, his OBP and SLG are significantly lower. Nady also slumped in June, batting just .218 (12 for 55) with a .605 OPS. What other options do the Diamondbacks have?
In Spring Training, the Diamondbacks had four players battling for the 1B job - Miranda, Nady, Russell Branyan, and Brandon Allen. Branyan had hit 25 HR with an .810 OPS in 2010, but was released after going just .194/.263/.282 in 103 AB. Many fans were disappointed when Miranda, Branyan, and Nady were brought in, because they felt that Brandon Allen was ready for the job. But while Allen did have a .933 OPS in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, his .261 Batting Average in Reno translated to less than a .200 Average in the Majors. Since Allen had an option year left while Miranda didn't, it was justifiable to play Miranda in the Majors while Allen tried to improve in AAA.
As July starts, Miranda has had a chance to claim the 1B job, but just hasn't done enough offensively. Allen, however, has picked up his offense in AAA, now hitting .303/.431/.561, with 15 HR and 59 RBI in 271 AB. After starting slowly with an .810 OPS in April, Allen has had a 1.020 OPS in May and 1.074 in June. He has hit well against both RHP (1.003 OPS) and LHP (.958 OPS). The only negative for Allen, and it could be a big one, is strikeouts. He already has 79K in 271 AB (29%), although he does also have 61 BB to lead the PCL.
Since the Diamondbacks have been struggling offensively, scoring 4.1 Runs/Game in June after averaging 4.7 R/G in April and May, now might be the time to give Allen a shot. Miranda would have to be placed on Waivers, and there is a good chance that he would go unclaimed. If he is claimed by another team, that would just open up the 1B spot in AAA for Paul Goldschmidt, who has 25 HR and a 1.076 OPS in AA Mobile. While many are asking for Goldschmidt to be jumped all the way to the Majors, I think it would be safer to try Allen first, and let Goldschmidt have success at the AAA level first. We'll see what the Diamondbacks decide to do, but it is clear that Juan Miranda needs to pick up his game to hold onto the 1B job.