If a universal DH is instituted the Arizona Diamondbacks could face an interesting decision. While they could rotate players through the role, there’s two players getting the bulk of the attention. That leads to the following debate:
Kevin Cron vs. Jake Lamb
It’s the young player with immense power vs. the veteran who has struggled with injuries but has proven capable of making a significant impact. Let’s breakdown both players and see who we should be pulling for.
The past two years have been virtually lost, as Lamb totaled 464 PA between the two years. However it was 2017 when he slugged 30 HR and in a two year span he combined for 59 HR and 196 RBI. Has it really been the injuries that have dragged him down, or is there more to the issues? Even when healthy Lamb hasn’t been posting gaudy numbers, with 12 HR over the past two seasons.
So the power is down and he’s never posted a strong average, as a career .242 hitter (.222 and .193 the past two seasons). That said, he appears to be the ideal piece to a platoon for the spot. Just look at the career split:
- vs. LHP – .169/.275/.319
- vs. RHP – .259/.345/.468
Sure he’d be on the favorable side of the split, but is that enough?
Cron crushed Triple-A pitching in 2019, hitting .331 with 38 HR, but he struggled to carve out a role in the Majors. It was a small sample (78 PA), but he still hit just .211 with 6 HR. The key concern is his struggle to make consistent contact, an issue that was obvious at both levels:
- Triple-A – 14.1% SwStr%
- Majors – 21.9% SwStr%
That’s an an issue that should continue to be exposed at the highest level. Throw in that it seems unlikely that he maintains last year’s power explosion, considering his 33.9% HR/FB at Triple-A (37.5% in the Majors), and exactly what are we going to get excited about?
He is a right-handed hitter, making an intriguing platoon partner for Lamb, but that doesn’t make him a potential difference maker.
Both Cron and Lamb could offer short-term value, but neither appear to be trustworthy options. Neither are guaranteed full-time AB, and even if they do carve out a role either one could struggle. In other words, view them as bench depth and little else.
Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: