Participants like to say baseball is game of adjustments.
If players are not receptive to change, alteration and transformation, they are likely doomed from the start. Numbers, insist Diamondbacks’ manager Kirk Gibson, are not terribly important and if a player relies on numbers, “that’s when you get in the deep freeze," he said.
Numbers for Diamondbacks’ third baseman Jake Lamb, after 13 games at the major league level, are not terribly strong. Coming into Sunday’s home game with San Diego, it says Lamb has a .217 batting average (10-for-46), first major league home run belted on Saturday and two extra base hits. Reliance on numbers again, Gibson points out, is dangerous, adding, “in two, three years, you don’t see the same player.”
The reference is what Gibson sees in Lamb today and what could be projected in future major league seasons.
That observation will likely characterize Lamb’s eventual contribution. Intelligent with keen observations, Lamb, a 23-year-old out of Seattle, is the first to recognize the value of patience and understanding.
“Hitting is always a series of adjustments,” he said prior to Sunday’s game with the Padres. “Up here, the game is essentially the same but there are slight differences. No distinct change but you learn to tweak little things.”
Because of his high production and the natural movement of celebrated players through the minors, Lamb said he expected to be a September call-up. When the Diamondbacks dealt Martin Prado to the Yankees at the July 31 trade deadline, events accelerated.
After hitting .327, slamming 25 home runs and knocking in 84 runs with Double-AA Mobile and Triple-Reno, Lamb received a call to The Show in early August. The time to process information and make a significant adjustment from a mid-minor league level to the major leagues, Gibson simply said, “is really overwhelming.”
Yet, Lamb’s approach is measured.
“You have to trust your abilities,” he said. “Know your limitations and I try to be consistent.”
Admitting there are no secrets to survive at the major league level, Lamb indicated that a hitter needs to be aware of a pitcher’s tendency and be prepared to stick with a proven plan.
“The pitchers up here are better with location,” he said. “The velocity is about the same, low 90s, for the most part. Here, they try and get you to swing at balls out of the strike zone. So, you have to be disciplined.”
From a coaching standpoint, Gibson, hitting coach Tuner Ward and others preach patience and recognition. Hitters need to be aware of pitcher’s tendency and be in a position to react. Above all, quality plate appearances represent a fine line between success and disaster.
“The goal for each hitter is get good at-bats,” Gibson said. “With a quality at-bat, a hitter tends to be in control.”
From his opening two weeks at the major league level, Lamb has given a favorable impression.
“He’s a good kid and I see exactly now what I saw in spring training,” Gibson said. “There are a few things to figure out and it is a big jump from the minors to where he is now.”
For now, Lamb is considered the third baseman of the future and, to this point, he has done little to compromise that support.