The Dynasty Guru’s Triple Play: Arizona Diamondbacks
Welcome to The Dynasty Guru’s Triple Play! This is a brand-new series where three very cool dynasty baseball nerds- Adam Lawler, Patrick Magnus and Keaton O. DeRocher- bring to you a succinct analysis of a pitcher, a hitter and a prospect from each organization. We’ll be running this regularly leading up to Opening Day!
Each team will be covered in alphabetical order, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks. While we here at The Dynasty Guru are primarily baseball obsessed, we’ll also be touching on some music we’ve enjoyed from each team’s home state. Enjoy, and leave us your question and comments below!
Jon Duplantier, Age: 23, SP – A-Adv
Prior to being drafted in the third round by Arizona, Duplantier was a standout at Rice (18 games, including 7 starts, 59 innings, 2.29 ERA and zero homers allowed), earning a nod onto the Conference USA All Freshman team. After an injury-lost sophomore season (shoulder), he earned Third Team All-American honors and Conference USA Pitcher of the Year in 2016 as a junior. That season he logged 148 strikeouts in 111 innings (good for second most in NCAA Division I) and carried a gaudy 12.0 K/9 and a 3.15 K/BB. He started 16 games for Owls going at least 6 innings in 13 of them.
All of that success lead the Diamondbacks to make Duplantier the 89th overall selection in 2016. In his pro debut however, Duplantier threw only one inning (facing five batters and striking out the side) before being shut down with an elbow injury. His full season debut betrayed no lingering effects of his injury- he logged 136 innings and struck out 165 at Advanced-A. He worked 25 games (24 starts) with a 10.9 K/9 and a steller 3.93 K/BB.
Typically, the lack of an out pitch can be overcome with superior control, and that is indeed the case with Duplantier. He boasts a 4 pitch mix of a fastball, curveball, slider and change, all of which ranking average or better due to his advanced feel for command. His best pitch is his fastball which has some life to it and sits in the 91-94 range. His curve has a hard break to it from his ¾ arm slot and he has the ability to get batters to chase. However, it still needs work to be his true secondary offering. His slider and change are both average complimentary pitches that play up to due advanced command.
There’s no doubt Duplantier should be a starter at the major league level. He currently projects as a mid rotation starter, but should have more reliability than most. Mid rotation starters are a dime-a-dozen, but the tertiary pieces Duplantier possesses allow him to have a slightly higher ceiling. If he can develop a meaningful secondary offering he could break out once he cracks the majors. Alas, he is a pitching prospect, so while he looks bright and shiny now, it could all fall apart at any minute. (Keaton O. DeRocher)
KEATON’S ARTIST SELECTION
Want to listen to some music from Arizona? How about “Hey Jealousy” – Gin Blossoms
Jake Lamb, Age: 27, 3B
Let me tell you about Jake Lamb. When we discussed writing this article, I volunteered to research Lamb, mostly because there’s been some talk of his fantasy success being a bit of a mystery. People say he’s made subtle improvements around the entirety of his game, and that is what’s made him better. Others say that he is a borderline platoon bat, and that his offensive game is greatly enhanced by his ballpark. Some of that is true.
Jake Lamb was a rather boring baseball player to research. As far as I can tell, an “expert” won’t really be able tell you anything much different from the statements made above. He has indeed improved his game in yearly incremental doses in a way that appears to be sustainable. His batted ball profile in 2017 closely resembles his career.
- 2017 : LD% 20.6 / GB% 41.1 / FB% 38.3 / HR/FB% 20.1
- Career: LD% 19.7 / GB% 44.6 / FB% 35.8 / HR/FB% 17.4
The largest difference, and maybe the reason for his success, is his increase in hitting fly balls, correlated to an increase in ISO:
- 2014: FB% 23.1, ISO .143
- 2015: FB% 32.4, ISO .123
- 2016: FB% 36.7, ISO .260
- 2017: FB% 38.3, ISO .239
The dude learned to hit the ball in the air, and to hit the ball out of the park. Validating that jump in ISO is his above average home run distance, and above average launch angle.
“He’s a Product of his Ball Park”
His increase in power has not been limited to his home ballpark. While some may point to Chase Field as the key to his offensive uptick, some would be wrong: his OPS away (.850) is higher than his OPS at home (.839).
Uh Oh, Spaghetti-Lefties
However, there is some element of truth to the Jake Lamb Doubters’ theories: Jake Lamb cannot hit lefties. At this point he is essentially a platoon bat- he absolutely murders righties, but is only marginally better than me at hitting a baseball against lefties.
- OPS LHP/RHP .557/.938
- Triple Slash Line Against LHP: .144/.269/.288
- Triple Slash Line Against RHP: .282/.386/.552
This is cause for concern, and a valid reason to consider shopping Lamb in dynasty leagues. The good news is that he’s still damn good at hitting right-handed pitching. Even if he was to enter into a platoon, he’d at least have the larger share of at-bats.
Looking at the depth chart, he doesn’t appear to have an obvious platoon partner on the current roster. Further, in limited at-bats (133) Brandon Drury has hit .271/.317/.492. Drury has played 3B before, but is currently slotted as their starting second baseman. There are some that are predicting Drury to have a breakout campaign of his own this season, and he’s at least worth monitoring.
Jake LambChop’s Play Along?
What do you do, Jake Lamb owners? If you are able to acquire a player of significant value by including Lamb in the deal, I would suggest doing that. However, Lamb is still a very good baseball player (against RHP), and should provide 2017-adjacent stats for the foreseeable future. And if he can put together a full season of good production, even with his struggles against lefties, watch out.
No baseball player is a computer, and every player has warts outside of the top tier of guys. The risk with Lamb is not crippling, and he’s not going to suddenly become a bad baseball player. However, I do not see any more significant growth, and if you know someone in your league who does… See what you can get, but don’t buy it if it’s not a large profit. (Patrick Magnus)
PATRICK’S ARTIST SELECTION
There is only one right selection for Arizona, Stevie Nicks. Don’t you even start with the hate! Put on your headphones, full volume, and blast Edge of Seventeen and tell me you’re not pumped. I’ve been blasting this during the #TDGX2 draft. This woman kills it.
Yoshihisa Hirano, Age: 33, RP
Who has two index fingers and is excited about typing up a 33-year-old Japanese reliever that signed a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks this fall? You guessed it.
Hirano is a bit of a mystery and continues to fly under the fantasy radar. Why? For one, most people don’t care about the Arizona Diamondbacks. This is a mistake and I implore you to expose the market for its shallow, anti-West Coast bias. More importantly, however, is the fact that Hirano’s role is ill-defined and a 33-year-old is not an enticing option for dynasty owners. So let me do a bit of a sell job on behalf of the former Nippon hurler.
Hirano wasn’t without his suitors. Forward thinking clubs like the Dodgers and the devil-magik-conjuring Cardinals were sniffing around to see if they could sign Hirano. While it doesn’t mean everything, those are the types of teams that can spot the perfect amount of value and talent in a bullpen arm. After watching film on Hirano, it’s easy to see why.
The most interesting aspect of Hirano’s repertoire is that he throws a forkball. What’s that look like? Well, millennial punks might call it a split finger fastball, but it’s a forkball to me. Take about 30 seconds to sympathize with both the batter and catcher in this video. It. Doesn’t. Rotate. Also, it’s interesting to note the eccentricities of his delivery: he has a long pause at the leg kick, thereby throwing off the batter’s timing. That being said, his true fastball isn’t that impressive. It sits around 91, but it’s the type of pitch that is used effectively with the forkball and a slider. Guess what else Hirano throws? Yup. A slider.
While he doesn’t boast the high velocity that is so en vogue nowadays, he has a very Shingo Takatsu type feel. Slow. Slower. Slowest. That has a tendency to throw a batter’s timing off, leaving him vulnerable to swinging strikes. Don’t believe me? Check out Hirano’s pitching sequence against Nolan Arenado in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Also, he may just end up closing. Yes, Archie Bradley is the bee’s knees and should no doubt be the primary option. However, you are talking about the same Arizona club who continued to trot out Fernando Rodney while Bradley was having an stellar year. Maybe Torey Lovullo believes Bradley is built for that Andrew Miller-type role every team seems to be yearning for throughout the MLB. If so, Hirano is one of two players that will reap the benefits.
So what do you do with this information? Hirano is a nice, sneaky play in first year player drafts or free agent pickups as he continues to fly under the radar. He’s not going to have the strikeout rate that the masses typically seek in a reliever/closer, but he won’t walk many either. Hirano isn’t Kimbrel, but I would definitely take him before Fernando Rodney. In the end, he’s a safe bet and a guy to take a flier on as you round out your roster in anything 14 teams and deeper as we head into spring training.
ADAM’S ARTIST SELECTION
Andrew Jackson Jihad (AJJ). The poppy southwestern indie rock group has the perfect mix of stand up bass, fast-paced guitar, and horns. Their debut album People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World (2007) withstands the test of time and their message of positive realism is something I think we could all use a healthy dose of in these odd times.
Follow us on Twitter for baseball, jokes, Keaton’s trolling, and other very cool opinions!
Adam Lawler: @thestatcastera
Keaton O. DeRocher: @TheSpokenKeats
Patrick Magnus: @TheGreenMagnus
One last thing! Join The Dynasty Guru Facebook group for tons of posts, debates, and many replies from writers here at TDG!