There have been three Jake the Snakes that I can recall. There was Jake “The Snake” Roberts who starred in the WWE, letting his python terrorize and constrict his opponents, sometimes before but usually after DDT’ing them into submission. Jake “The Snake” Plummer excelled in football at the Arizona State University, leading them to a one-loss season and fourth overall ranking in 1996. He did play in the NFL for 10 seasons, albeit a middling career with 161 touchdowns and 161 interceptions. I respect the symmetry. The sequel is rarely better than the original iteration. Now we have Jake “The Snake” McCarthy of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Has anyone called him “The Snake” but me? Niet, but this is the power that I wield from my mom’s basement. He doesn’t have the ferocious power of Roberts’ DDT and never got as many panties wet as Plummer did at ASU, but McCarthy has been doing his thing and has been a viable addition to “The Snake” trilogy. Let’s dig in to if he is truly worthy of it.

McCarthy is 25 years old, 6′ 2″, 215 pounds, and bats from the left side. He was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the competitive balance round A of the 2018 MLB draft.

Throughout his minor league career, the slash was in the .265/.330/.445 range. The walk rate was in the eight to 10 percent range. The strikeout rate steadily increased into the mid-20 area while the power surfaced later, with the ISO rising above .200 in 2021. But power was never his calling card. McCarthy has been about speed, stealing 20, 18, and 29 bases in three minor league seasons.

He got his first taste of The Show in 2021 and hit two home runs and stole three bases in 70 plate appearances. While the walk rate was 11.4%, the strikeout rate was 32.9%. The slash was only .220/.333/.373 but the ISO was a respectable .153.

In 2022, McCarthy has been shuttled back and forth between the big club and Triple-A. He had struggles as the walk rate was only 5.8% and the strikeout rate was 34.9%. That said, he did hit three home runs and stole one base in 86 plate appearances but the slash was only .228/.282/.405.

Then David Peralta was traded and “The Snake” was let out of the bag. In the 145 plate appearances since, McCarthy has slashed .326/.389/.473 with a .147 ISO, 8.3% walk rate, and 13.1% strikeout rate. He has two home runs and 11 stolen bases.

Comparing the two time periods, before Peralta traded and after, McCarthy has been hitting more ground balls and pulling the ball less, opting to utilize more of the field. This is a good thing for McCarthy. Sure, he has power but his primary weapon is his speed.

His approach has been more aggressive recently, as he’s swinging at more pitches, both in the zone and out. The contact rates have improved while the swinging strike rate has declined slightly. The number that jumps out is the outside-the-zone contact. That number has gone from 46.8% all the way up to 61.4%. That coincides with less of a power approach and more of a spray and splay one.

McCarthy is adept against both right and left-handed pitching. He does have slightly more power against righties, which isn’t surprising.

He has had some good fortune, as the elevated BABIP shows, but I think it’s within the range of outcomes that he maintains a high number due to his speed. He is in the 98th percentile for sprint speed on Baseball Savant and the approach of putting the ball in play allows his speed to be more of a factor.

Steamer has McCarthy projected for a .252/.321/.411 slash with a .159 ISO, 8.3% walk rate, and 22.4% strikeout rate. They have him down for three home runs and five stolen bases in 108 plate appearances. The power/speed combo isn’t bad considering many of the options on the wire.


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3 months ago

Don’t forget Jake “Snake” Plissken!

Reply to  Five-on-One
3 months ago

Unfortunately, I think his name was Bob though