We are less than three weeks away from the start of the regular season and we still don’t know who will be starting at first for the D’Backs in the opener against the Rockies in Denver.
If you base getting the job solely on spring numbers, then Russell Branyan will be the starter on April 1. The veteran has hit .467 with three home runs and nine RBI. He has also cut down on his high strikeout totals, which has been a concern throughout his career. He has only two K’s in 30 at-bats this spring.
Branyan hasn’t been the only one that has hit the ball so far. Brandon Allen is hitting .364 with six RBI, Juan Miranda has two homers and five RBI and even top prospect Paul Goldschmidt has been good throughout the spring. He is hitting nearly .500 and has driven in seven runs in only 17 at-bats.
Of course, offense isn’t the only thing that you have to take into account with deciding on who should be the starter at first. Not only has Branyan’s strikeout totals been a cause for concern throughout his career, but so has his defense. That is probably the reason why he has received less time in the field than both Miranda and Allen. Miranda hasn’t committed a error in 56 innings and the same goes for Allen in 49 innings. Branyan has had one miscue in 41 innings.
The players contract situations will effect Kirk Gibson’s decision as well. Branyan has a clause in his minor league deal that would allow him to opt out and become a free agent on March 25. Miranda is out of minor league options. That and the fact that Kevin Towers is high on him means that is a lock to make the roster. The real question is Allen. He still has options left, but some have already speculated that the organization would trade him if he doesn’t start the season off with the big club.
Gibson has 11 days to make a decision on the only remaining question left this spring. Who he picks is anyone’s guess at this stage.