Brandon Drury is expected to open the 2017 season as the starting second baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Can he handle the new job?
The 2016 season was a big mess for the Arizona Diamondbacks. A lot went wrong and looked even worse because of the promise the season had at the onset. The Zack Greinke signing may hold back the franchise for a few seasons, the Shelby Miller trade was a disgrace and star center fielder A.J. Pollock hardly saw any action due to an injury in Spring Training. One positive takeaway was how well many of their younger position players performed, including Brandon Drury.
Thanks to Drury’s performance in 2016, he should see more action in 2017. According to the team’s depth chart, he is the Diamondbacks’ starting second baseman. Is this something he can handle?
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On one hand, it would be great if the Diamondbacks could turn Drury into a utility player. On the other, they need him in the lineup every day. Second base is the only spot open at this time due to the departure of Jean Segura. He should still see time at other spots, but on Opening Day second base is where Drury will get his start. Is this the best place for him or would the Diamondbacks be better off rotating him through?
Unfortunately, Drury lacks the defensive skills needed to really be effective as a utility man. No matter where he has lined up defensively, the result has not been pretty.
When it comes to offense there is little to criticize Drury on. He slashed .282/.329/.458 with 16 home runs in 2016. The production was great for a guy who only last year became a top prospect.
Prior to the breakout performance, Drury had toiled in the minor leagues since 2010. He finally earned a permanent spot in the big leagues with last year’s performance at the still very young age of 23. It would appear that the Diamondbacks stumbled upon something very special with him. To keep him confident, they are wisely finding a place to play him.
During Drury’s time in the minor leagues, third base was his primary position. It wasn’t until 2015 when the Diamondbacks saw what they had in Jake Lamb that they decided to put him at second base a little more often. Drury would only receive eight starts at second base last year with the majority of them coming as a corner outfielder and a few others at third base where he has the most professional experience.
Second base is probably the best position for Drury. This isn’t only true because it’s the lone spot the Diamondbacks have available in 2017.
Defensively, Drury has performed the best at second base. His defensive numbers at third base in his minor league career are very poor with the .950 fielding percentage showcasing the lackluster fielding abilities at the hot corner. He’s not much better in left field or right field either. Drury would appear best suited at first base because of this. As we can surmise, that won’t happen with Paul Goldschmidt on the roster.
Everyday second base duties will be a challenge for Drury the same way any player may struggle as the starter in the big leagues manning an unfamiliar position. His bat, though, will lead the way and make up for any potential shortcomings from his glove.
The Diamondbacks aren’t keeping Drury around for his defense or his charming personality. They want him in the lineup because of what he can do at the plate. A little more seasoning and second base should be no sweat.