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2012 Diamondbacks Spring Training Preview - Outfielders | March

This article wraps up our 2012 Diamondbacks Spring Training preview, with a look at the outfielders. The most controversial move by the Diamondbacks in the offseason was the signing of OF Jason Kubel, who will battle with Gerardo Parra and Chris Young for playing time along with RF Justin Upton. As we discussed in this article when Kubel was signed, Kubel is a solid offensive player, but is below average defensively in LF. What he does add is another left-handed power threat to the lineup, which currently only has Parra and Miguel Montero from the left side.  Here is a closer look at the outfielders in the Diamondbacks' Major League camp. (Here are links to previous articles on the Starting Pitchers, Bullpen, CatchersMiddle Infielders, and Corner Infielders).

The team has nine outfielders in camp for Spring Training - Justin Upton, Chris Young, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra, Cole Gillespie, David Winfree, A.J. Pollock, Marc Krauss, and Adam Eaton. The latter three all played in AA in 2011, and will almost definitely start 2012 in the Minor Leagues. Gillespie and Winfree are battling to make the team, but probably will end up with a roster spot in AAA Reno.  The first four - Upton, Young, Kubel, and Parra - are the four who should be locks for the Major League roster (with infielders Willie Bloomquist and Geoff Blum possibilities for the 5th outfielder position). The only question is how the playing time will break down.

Justin Upton 592 105 171 31 88 21/9 59 126 .289 .369 .529
Chris Young 567 89 134 20 71 22/9 80 139 .236 .331 .420
Jason Kubel 366 37 100 12 58 1/1 32 86 .273 .332 .434
Gerardo Parra 445 55 130 8 46 15/1 43 82 .292 .357 .427
Cole Gillespie (AAA) 484 100 145 12 79 24/5 81 91 .300 .405 .479
David Winfree (AAA) 134 27 43 9 37 8/1 15 22 .321 .389 .575
A.J. Pollock (AA) 550 103 169 8 73 36/7 44 86 .307 .357 .444
Marc Krauss (AA) 433 69 105 16 65 3/3 64 123 .242 .340 .439
Adam Eaton (AA) 456 85 145 10 67 34/14 30 35 .302 .409 .429

Justin Upton (Age 24) - Upton is coming off his best season in 2011, finishing with career highs in HR, RBI, Runs Scored, and OBP, and a #4 finish in the MVP voting. Upton hit remarkably well at home (1.033 OPS with 20 HR), but was significantly worse on the road (.767 OPS). He'll be the starter in RF, and should be a strong MVP candidate again in 2012.

Chris Young (28) - Young is the team's best defensive CF, but his offense was up-and-down all season. He hit his best in June (.300/.386/.540), but dropped all the way to .149/.296/.276 in August. Young also had large platoon splits in 2011, compiling a .939 OPS against LHP, but only .694 against RHP. Young's offensive struggles have led to speculation that he could be benched against some right-handers in place of Parra.

Jason Kubel (29) - Kubel has hit well in each of his five full seasons in the Majors, with an OPS+ over 105 each year. His best season was 2009, when he hit .300/.369/.539 with 28 HR and 103 RBI. A left-handed batter, Kubel has also had large platoon splits, with a career OPS 150 points higher against RHP. Since he's not a good defensive outfielder, it doesn't make sense to play him against LHP, but he should be in the lineup in LF against almost all RHP.  

Gerardo Parra (24) - Parra had his best offensive season in 2011, and also won a Gold Glove for his play in LF. But Parra may find himself as the 4th OF in 2012. Even though Parra hits left-handed like Kubel, the two may end up in a virtual platoon, since Parra hits LHP better than Kubel, and Parra's defense is always much better. So Parra should be the starter against all LHP. Against RHP, Kubel will probably start in LF, with Parra taking some starts from Chris Young in CF. We'll see how well Parra can handle CF defensively - he has good instincts and a great throwing arm, but may not have the raw speed of Chris Young.

Cole Gilespie (27) -  Gillespie has had impressive numbers in AAA Reno, but only has a .683 career OPS in the Majors after 120 PA.  He has shown impressive plate discipline in the Minors, but hasn't shown the same ability in the Majors yet. Defensivelym he's best suited to a corner outfield position, but can play CF if needed. He'll be battling for the 25th spot on the roster, but may be squeezed out by all the middle infielders expected to make the team.

David Winfree (26) - Like almost everyone else in Reno, Winfree had outstanding numbers in AAA last year. He has some pop in his bat, but has never reached base enough to become a legitimate prospect, with only a career .323 OBP in the Minors. He started his minor league career as a 3B, but has played OF for the last two years. Winfree will probably find himself back in AAA in 2012.

A.J. Pollock (24) - Pollock missed the entire 2010 season due to injury, but played well for AA Mobile in 2011. He makes good contact, gets on base at a high rate, and runs the bases well. The only part of his offensive game that is lacking is power - Pollock only hit 8 HR in 550 AB, although he did slug 41 doubles. Sometimes a lack of power becomes magnified as players move up the ladder. The other question about Pollock is whether he can handle CF in the Majors. His defense is currently viewed as decent, but not great. Since he probably will not hit for power in the Majors, he needs to stick in CF defensively to become an everyday player for Arizona.

Marc Krauss (24) - After a good showing in the California League and the AFL in 2010, Krauss took a step backwards in 2011. Krauss' batting average dropped 60 points last season, from .302 to .242, and his OPS dropped by 100 points. The good news is that his walk rate and extra-base rate were still pretty good, so the year wasn't a total flop. But Krauss' defense will never be a plus, so all of his value will come from his bat. He needs to return to form in 2012.

Adam Eaton (23) - Eaton has posted an OBP over .400 at every stop in his pro career - Missoula, Visalia, and Mobile. A big part of that is from HBP (42 in 2 seasons), but he also has very good plate discipline, with 107 walks to go with just 120 strikeouts over two years. Like Pollock, Eaton doesn't have much home run power, but does get a decent amount of doubles and triples. Although he has played some CF in the Minors, he's probably not good enough to stick in CF, which greatly diminishes his prospect value. But Eaton has hit well at every level so far, and has continued to exceed expectations for a 19th round pick.

The Diamondbacks will probably leave Spring Training with just 4 full-time outfielders - Upton, Young, Kubel, and Parra. The early word from Spring Training is that Kubel will see a lot of playing time in LF against RHP, leaving Parra with the LHP side of the platoon. Parra is also getting more chances in CF during Spring Training than in previous years, so he may get more starts there in place of Young, if he can show that he can handle CF defensively.