The Arizona Diamondbacks shocked the baseball world with an all-in offseason that included signing superstar pitcher Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million in free agency. They have been a sexy pick to win the NL West and contend for a World Series.
Well, it’s going to be much more difficult for the Diamondbacks to accomplish those things after the news they got on Friday night in a spring training game against the Kansas City Royals.
Star centerfielder A.J. Pollock fractured his right elbow on a head-first slide, and needs surgery:
Chip Hale says A.J. Pollock suffered a fractured right elbow and will require surgery.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) April 2, 2016
Just terrible news for Arizona, three days ahead of their Opening Day.
A lot of baseball fans may not be very familiar with A.J. Pollock yet, but this is how good he is: In 2015, Pollock finished eighth among MLB position players in Fangraphs‘ WAR (wins above replacement).
That’s basically saying that only Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Manny Machado, and Yoenis Cespedes were more valuable position players than Pollock was in 2015. That’s ahead of stars like Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo, just to name a few.
Pollock showed off his terrific all-around game in 2015, hitting for 20 homers, getting on base at a .367 clip, stealing 39 bases (third in the majors), and winning the Gold Glove at a premium position in center field. How do the Diamondbacks find a way to try to make up for all of that value lost on both sides of the game? Who knows.
The 28-year-old had been dealing with soreness in that same elbow this spring, and a head-first slide on Friday night apparently made things a lot worse:
That did not look good: A.J. Pollock grabbed his right elbow in pain after sliding home safely. — Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) April 2, 2016
AJ Pollock grabbed his right elbow after diving head first into home plate. Looked like he reinjured it pushing off the ground after scoring
— Mike Ferrin (@Mike_Ferrin) April 2, 2016
The Diamonbacks don’t yet have an estimate for when Pollock could potentially return:
#Dbacks Chip Hale said club should know more about timeline for Pollock return tomorrow.
— Steve Gilbert (@SteveGilbertMLB) April 2, 2016
We can assume it’s going to be multiple months, at least, especially when you factor in the injury is on his throwing elbow. It will be interesting to see if the Diamondbacks can hang around in the NL West while Pollock is out, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants also expected to be two of the better teams in the National League.