PHOENIX – Despite missing more than a month of the season after breaking his thumb on a diving catch attempt in mid-May, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock is putting together one of the best seasons of his injury-saddled career.
Pollock, who missed time a season ago due to a groin injury, hit 14 homers in 112 games (425 at-bats). He’s already eclipsed that home run total in 2018 with 15 in 234 at-bats.
“He had a different look about him in spring training,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “His offseason I’m sure was all about getting healthy, getting ready and perfecting his swing plane. He had a good spring and got off to a great start. His April was fantastic.”
Pollock earned National League Player of the Month honors for his performance in April, hitting .291 with nine homers and 24 RBI. His scorching-hot start, however, was derailed by the thumb injury on May 14.
Roughly two weeks after hurting his thumb, Pollock said, “I play the game hard, and it’s brutal. But, you know, sometimes stuff like this is going to happen.”
“You have seconds to make a decision. It’s in my job description to go out there and make plays on defense,” he said.
Pollock’s teammates praised the amount of effort he put in not only to return, but also to be effective when he got back.
“He was on fire and that probably made the thumb injury hurt a little bit more,” fellow All-Star Paul Goldschmidt said. “He’s worked hard to get back as quickly as he could.”
Pollock missed all of June but has batted .286 with five doubles, four home runs and 11 RBIs since returning to the lineup on July 2. He needs just five home runs and three triples the rest of the way to match career highs in each category.
Infielder Daniel Descalso said Pollock has worked hard on his swing in an effort to drive the ball more efficiently, which may play a role in his higher home run rate this year. Pollock’s home run to fly ball rate is at a career-best 20 percent (league average is around 10 percent), according to FanGraphs.
“I’m disappointed that he got hurt, because I would have loved to have seen what his overall numbers would have been for this year,” Lovullo said. “I still think they’re going to be fantastic despite missing six weeks, and that’s credit to him.”
Overall, Pollock sports a career-best .921 OPS through 63 games.
The center fielder said he didn’t know of any specific reason why he’s been able to maintain his elite level of play before and after an injury that kept him out so long. He added that the season has its own rhythm and getting thrown of out that can make it difficult to adjust.
Still, Pollock doesn’t feel as though he’s back in a groove despite not missing a beat since his return.
“I’m just trying to get back to what I’m doing, just trying to grind. It doesn’t feel like I’m in that rhythm yet,” Pollock said.
Given how he’s played thus far, Pollock saying he doesn’t yet feel he’s at his best with two months left in the season is a good sign for the Diamondbacks.
His solid play couldn’t come at a better time individually, as Pollock is in a contract year and will become one of the league’s most sought-after free agents this coming offseason.