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Position Battles: Diamondbacks First Base/Left Field

Last week, I analyzed the battle for the Baltimore Orioles' closer job in the first edition of the 'Position Battles' series. Today, I'll examine two starting spots, first base and left field, for the Arizona Diamondbacks and five players who will be competing for the jobs in Spring Training. An archive of over 50 position battles that I have identified are accessible over at MLBDepthCharts.com. I'll be highlighting some of the more interesting competition's here at RotoAuthority. 

Xavier Nady vs Juan Miranda vs Gerardo Parra vs Brandon Allen vs Wily Mo Peña

Tale of the Tape

Nady: 32 years old, $1.75MM salary 2010 stats: .256 BA, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 13 2B, 17 BB, 85 K in 317 AB's 2011 Outlook: Regular playing time400-500 PA's between 1B/LF

His one season with the Cubs in 2010 was disappointing as he posted the lowest OPS (.660) of his career. To be fair, he was coming back from Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for a majority of the 2009 season. The previous season, he posted career-highs in BA (.305), OBP (.357), SLG (.510), HR's (25), RBI's (97), 2B's (37), and BB's (39) between the Pirates and Yankees. If he can rebound and stay healthy, he has the type of straightaway and opposite field power that plays well at Chase Field. New GM Kevin Towers, who was the Padres' GM when they drafted Nady back in 2000, sees him getting 400-500 plate appearances and believes he can bounce back but needs regular playing time in order to do so. Of course, Towers won't be filling out the lineup card everyday but it is an indication that they will give the right-handed hitter every chance to be in the lineup on a regular basis. 

Miranda: 27 years old, est. $440,000 salary 2010 stats: .285 BA, 15 HR, 43 RBI, 15 2B, 52 R, 33 BB, 71 K in 295 AB's (AAA) 2011 Outlook: Favorite to be starting 1B, out of options

The former Yankee has nothing left to prove in the minors, having put together four consecutive solid seasons (one with Double-A Trenton and three with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre), posting a combined .845 OPS. Out of options, the D'Backs will risk losing him on waivers if he doesn't make the Opening Day roster. He doesn't appear to have the same offensive ceiling as Allen but he might be a more polished hitter at this point in his career and could benefit from playing in hitter-friendly Chase Field. 

Parra: 23 years old, est. $440,000 salary  2010 stats: .261 BA, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 19 2B, 6 3B, 23 BB, 76 K, SB in 364 AB's 2011 Outlook: Underdog to win starting job, likely fourth outfielder

After a solid rookie season at age 22 (.290 BA, 5 HR, 60 RBI, 21 2B, 8 3B), Parra regressed in 2010. His .679 OPS was the lowest of any starting left fielder in the big leagues aside from Juan Pierre. But Pierre had 68 SB's while Parra stole just one base. Without great home run power or blazing speed, he'll have to make his living by hitting for a high BA, OBP, and a good amount of doubles and triples. He'll have to prove early on that he's going to provide more offense or he's likely destined for reserve outfielder duty. 

Allen: 24 years old, est. $414,000 salary 2010 stats: .261 BA, 25 HR, 86 RBI, 18 2B, 3 3B, 72 R, 83 BB, 95 K, 14 SB in 371 AB's (AAA) 2011 Outlook: Underdog at 1B and LF, minor league options remaining

In 145 Triple-A games since being acquired from the White Sox in July 2009, Allen has 37 HR's, 118 RBI's, 26 2B's, 103 BB's, and 20 SB's. Like Miranda, he has nothing left to prove in the minors. However, he'll come into Spring Training as an underdog to Miranda for the 1B job and Nady for the LF job. He began playing left field while in Triple-A last season and made a handful of starts at the position when he reached Arizona as a September call-up. With Chris Young and Justin Upton manning the other two outfield spots, Allen wouldn't have much ground to cover. If he can carry over what he did in the minors offensively, his bat should be enough to make up for any inexperience in the outfield. 

Peña: 28 years old, minor league free agent 2010 stats: .324 BA, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 6 2B, 28 R, 15 BB, 45 K in 142 AB's (AAA) 2011 Outlook: Extreme long shot for LF job, AAA depth, lots of BP home runs

I just couldn't ignore Peña, who showed in a brief late-season stint with the Padres' Triple-A team that he can still hit the ball a long way. The former Reds, Red Sox, and Nationals outfielder has been out of the big leagues since 2008. Prior to then, he hit 71 HR's in 1212 big league AB's from 2004-2007. Unlike me, the D'Backs will probably ignore Peña when evaluating starting left field candidates so he'll need to have a big camp to put himself on the radar. 

Final Word

Miranda and Nady will enter camp as the front-runners but Allen is right behind them and could win a starting job with a good spring. While Nady could see regular duty in the middle of the lineup, Miranda, Allen, and Parra would likely hit near the bottom of the lineup where the pressure is lower but RBI opportunities are fewer. 


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