At this point in spring training many job battles have been won or lost. One particular job battle that has my attention has been taking place in Arizona. Heading into this offseason the Diamondbacks wanted Brandon Drury to work on his agility and focus on second base duties. Drury responded by losing 10 pounds and all reports have him looking good at the position.
The Diamondbacks also traded Jean Segura this winter, however, part of the return was Ketel Marte, who is capable of playing second base as well. Being a Seattle Mariner fan, I had the chance to watch Marte play on a consistent basis. In 2015, Marte’s rookie season, he looked alright, but wasn’t a world beater. After the league realized that Marte was quite punchless at the plate, they attacked him in the zone more often in 2016, leading to a disappointing .259/.287/.323 sophomore season line.
Fortunately, strong play by Drury this spring appears to have landed him the starting second base job, at least to begin the season. Per this article by Adam Green, manager Torey Lovullo admits that Drury has done just about all he could to win the job outright.
I believe the skills that Drury showed last season should have been more than enough for the Diamondbacks to ink Drury into second base way back in November, but again, I just manage fantasy baseball teams. Fortunately, I’ve been grabbing shares of Drury as often as humanly possible. With 3B and OF eligibility already and second base eligibility coming within the first week or two of the regular season, that alone makes Drury an excellent selection in 15-team mixed leagues or deeper.
Last season Drury displayed skills that should allow him to take yet another step forward in 2017, especially with regular playing time. Drury showed average contact abilities, coupled with both league average power and speed in his partial playing time duties last season. What has me intrigued most are the peaks of his hard contact abilities last season. Drury spent multiple weeks making hard contact well above the league average marks last season.
While the end of season hard contact numbers show a league average rate, which is perfectly acceptable, look at the number of weeks he spent above the league average mark. If Drury can continue to make contact at a league average rate and limit the number of weeks spent below the league average exit velocity, his ability and home ballpark should allow for 20-25 home runs with regular playing time.
A .270+ hitting, 20 home run, handful of stolen bases, eligible at three position, youngster, should be getting more love than he currently is. In fact, Drury is currently being selected as the 245th player off the board in NFBC drafts. Perhaps the news of Drury winning the second base job to start the season will push this mark up, but even then, don’t be afraid to be the “high-guy” in the room on Drury.
For those who put some stock in spring performance, Drury has continued to rake. Through 46 spring at-bats, Drury has a triple slash line of .435/.458/.674 and continues to hit the ball hard.
Brandon Drury will outperform the following established second basemen in 2017:
- Ben Zobrist
- Jonathan Schoop
- Dustin Pedroia
All three of these keystone players are being selected on average about 100 picks before Drury. While you’ll have to wait a handful of games for Drury to pick up second base eligibility, he’s worth the week or so wait. Don’t miss out on this somehow semi-overlooked young hitter, who has flashed the potential to be a top-12 second baseman as soon as this season.