Brandon Allen is entering what should be the prime years of his career. He’s got power, can take a walk, and offers up to six years of team control. He’s the most logical candidate to start at not one, but two different positions in the Diamondbacks lineup. Paraphrasing Ivan Drago, if he fails, he fails. But he has to get a shot.
The Diamondbacks, of course, didn’t listen and chose to go with Juan Miranda and Xavier Nady at first base, a combination that has managed a whopping 0.1 WAR on the season and an OBP just over .300. Especially given the favorable hitters’ environment at Chase Field, such unimpressive totals out of first base are completely unacceptable. After half a season (at least according to the conventions the the All-Star Break marks the halfway point), the Diamondbacks finally listened to Jonah (and Eno Sarris and Eric Seidman and others) and freed Brandon Allen, calling him up as their first move of the second half.
Allen’s limited MLB career hasn’t been promising. In 172 plate appearances, Allen has only managed to slash .221/.320/.389, hardly better than Miranda and Nady so far this year. His minor league stats have just become too much to ignore. For his third stint in a row with Triple-A Reno, Allen has a wOBA higher than .400. His calling card is power, with an ISO above .250 each year, and he supplements it with tremendous discipline, walking in 16.9% of plate appearances this year and 17.7% last season. Even his bugaboo at the Major League level, a 35% strikeout rate, hasn’t been a problem for him at Triple-A — his minor league strikeout rates are worse than average, but in the 20-23% range instead of in the 30s.
Allen is no guarantee at the Major League level, and he’ll have to get over his strikeout issues to have value. But at this point for Arizona, where their other first base options have proved their lack of worth yet they still sit a mere three games back of the Giants in the NL West, the Diamondbacks have no good reason to keep Allen in Reno. The Diamondbacks might as well let it ride, and Allen makes as good a dice roll as any right now.