Jake Lamb: A Tale of an All-Star That Isn’t

Even though he will not be appearing in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game on Tuesday, Jake Lamb has pieced together one of the best offensive seasons in the National League.

Lamb, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ third baseman, was one of ten players named to MLB’s All-Star Final Vote campaign, an online ballot arranged for fans to vote for each league’s final representative in the All-Star Game. Lamb failed to win the vote, however, as he was beat out by Brandon Belt for one of the final roster spots. Nevertheless, what Lamb has done is worthy of further recognition.

Lamb has been one of the heaviest offensive contributors for Arizona this season, driving in a team-high 61 runs and managing a .291/.371/.612 slash-line in 86 games. In fact, Lamb’s .612 slugging percentage is the best mark in the National League and ranks second in the majors. Beyond that, there are other statistics working in Lamb’s favor, including his batting average on balls in play and weighted runs created plus.

Batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, represents how often balls in play result in a single, double, or triple. BABIP functions on the same scale that batting average does, so a high BABIP is better than a lower one.

Thus far in 2016, Lamb’s .337 BABIP is the third highest among National League third basemen and better than that of Matt Carpenter, Kris Bryant, and Nolan Arenado, three players deemed All-Stars at the position.

Weighted runs created plus, or wRC+, is a metric that tries to credit the batter for each specific outcome of a plate appearance rather than grouping all together and evaluating after, similar to what batting average and OPS do. Once the scale it uses is fully understood, wRC+ is a very useful tool when grading a player. A league average wRC+ is 100, and each point above 100 is considered a percentage point above league average. So, theoretically, a player with a 112 wRC+ generated twelve percent more runs than a league-average batter would have in as many plate appearances.

Currently, Lamb ranks seventh in the NL with a 152 wRC+, trailing only Anthony Rizzo, Carpenter, Daniel Murphy, Yoenis Cespedes, Belt, and Bryant, who are all All-Stars.

Given that he plays for a team that’s fourteen games under .500, Lamb has crafted his stellar season out of the game’s spotlight. However, if he continues to hit at such a pace throughout the second half of the year, this won’t be the case come season’s end.

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