Brandon Drury put together a solid 2016 season playing all over the field for the Diamondbacks. He played 89 games in the outfield, but also made 29 appearances at third, 16 appearances at second and even made one appearance at first base. While not an Opening Day starter at any of these positions, Drury was still able to log 461 at-bats, and he slugged 16 home runs to go along with 53 RBI. One of the reasons Drury found himself in the lineup so often was his improvement against right-handed pitching. In 2015, he hit just .152 against righties (albeit in just 33 at-bats). Last year, he bumped that number up to .283 while continuing to mash against lefties (.304 average in 2015, .280 last season). Drury will compete for a regular role at second base, but he will get plenty of at-bats whether or not he has a set position to begin the year.
Drury, who is hitting .408 with a 1.064 OPS this spring, has won the starting second base job, manager Torey Lovullo told ArizonaSports.com. "Offensively he's having a great spring, but we knew he was built around offense and that was going to be, really, the non-issue for him," Lovullo added. "So he should be proud of himself for how he's addressed the needs defensively, he's been really good." With Drury locked in at second base, Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed and Ketel Marte are battling for the starting shortstop job. Drury hit 16 home runs and compiled a .786 OPS last season and could take a bigger step forward in the power department in 2017 with steady at-bats at a set position after playing the infield and outfield last season.
Drury focused on improving his agility in the offseason in hopes of being the Diamondbacks' everyday second baseman, and he said dropped more than 10 pounds while adding muscle, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports. After playing the outfield for most of 2016, he's the likely choice to man the keystone heading into 2017. The work the 24-year-old performed on his side-to-side movement could help him lock down second base for the long term, despite the fact he may face competition at times from Ketel Marte. Drury popped 16 home runs and a .786 OPS last season and could take a bigger step forward in the power department, especially if he occupies close to a full-time role. He still carries sleeper appeal late in mixed fantasy drafts.
Drury is hitting second and starting at second base for the D-backs in their spring exhibition against Grand Canyon University on Wednesday, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports. In a lineup that has the look of one that manager Torey Lovullo might use on Opening Day (with the exception of David Peralta yielding the start in right field to Oswaldo Arcia due to visa issues), Drury is in a prime spot ahead of Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb on the lineup card. Drury's greatest competition for playing time at second base may come from Ketel Marte, but it appears as though Drury has the inside track for the starting job at the keystone to begin spring games.
Drury could be in line to see a lot of time at second base in 2017, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports. "We're going to try and get as many at-bats for our best players, so he would be one of those," general manager Mike Hazen said. The new leadership team has expressed a desire to improve the outfield defense, play Jake Lamb almost every day at third base, and get Drury as many at-bats as possible, which leads to the idea that he could win the starting job at second base during spring training. Drury played primarily in the outfield last season, despite playing only third base and second base in the minors. Despite the position change, he still posted a .282/.329/.458 slash line with 16 home runs in 499 plate appearances, and he could possibly improve upon those numbers if his defensive responsibilities are simplified. Chris Owings, Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed will be competing for the shortstop job in spring training, and whoever loses out will likely also be considered at second base, but based on his production in 2016 and the statements from the new brass, Drury appears to have the inside track.
General manager Mike Hazen suggested Drury is very much in the team's plans for 2017 but he may not have a set defensive position to begin the year, the Arizona Republic reports. "I think more than anything else when you have a hitter of that caliber you want to find him at-bats," Hazen said. "It's a similar situation to what we had with Brock Holt in Boston. You find a way to get him on the field. That's of the most critical importance, getting him in the lineup. The defensive position becomes secondary." Drury saw time at first base, second base, third, left field and right field in 2016, and it sounds like he could fill a similar super-utility role to begin 2017. After a strong first two months of the season, Drury struggled in June and July but bounced back and finished with a very strong .282/.329/.458 batting line and 16 homers in 461 total at-bats. Hazen said improving his outfield defense will be a priority for the 24-year-old Drury this winter.