One of and quite possibly the biggest issue for the Diamondbacks in 2014 has been the sharp drop off in the overall quality of fielding in both the infield and the outfield. The Diamondbacks biggest and most consistent strength last season was the defense. The Snakes were named the best defensive team in 2013, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt won his first gold glove at first, and right fielder Gerardo Parra won his second straight gold glove saving a ton of runs in the outfield with his assists and his spectacular catches. Fangraphs DEF statistic had the team at almost 50 runs saved over MLB average, the best in the N.L and only second to the Royals in all of baseball.
Fast forward to 2014 and the defense is completely different. The Snakes DEF has plummeted to -10.2 the second worst in the National League only ahead of the Nationals, and the stat has the Dbacks defense costing the team 12 runs compared to the average. That cant continue over a full season if the Dbacks want to get back to respectability. The offense is starting to come around, and the starting pitching is putting up consistent quality start yet the defense keeps making errors. Now, during this roadtrip in which the team has already won two series, the defense has improved, but it needs to start being more consistent. Every fan needs to keep this in mind: defensive numbers just like every stat in baseball have their ups and downs and have peroids of random struggles and high points. Simply put defense is not coming naturally right now to the Dbacks.
Last season, the Dbacks only committed 75 errors all year the best in the National League. Through the first 37 games of this year they are on pace for 136 which would be the second highest in franchise history second only to the 139 the team committed in 2004 which was the worst season by record in franchise history. What is the most surprising about the Dbacks struggles is how much of the errors can be attributed to throwing mistakes. 19 of the Dbacks errors were throwing mistakes. That is very unusual. One possible explanation for that is the fact that Dbacks players are thinking to much and they might not be separating their hitting struggles to what their job is on the field. The Dbacks are concerned that Martin Prado for example is beating himself to much. Prado is leading the charge, he has made 10 errors this season.
The other part that the Snakes have struggled in is defending the running game. Twenty five of the twenty eight stolen base attempts have been successful which is a 89% success rate trailing only the Cubs for the worst in the league. The Dbacks rate in 2013 was 69% which was better then the league average. Miguel Montero is 18-21 and backup Tuffy Goesewisch has yet to nail anyone in seven attempts. Goesewisch is supposed to be known for his defense and he hasn’t down much on offense.
Both of these area’s have to improve for this team, and I think it has to do with the mental mindset of the team. They have to separate the offensive struggles from their jobs on defense. Whats ironic about it is that Mark Trumbo who was expected to struggle on defense has zero errors in 2014.