Arizona Diamondbacks: Midseason Grades
The Diamondbacks have been a pleasant surprise this season. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
When the Arizona Diamondbacks reached game 82, we were officially at the midpoint of the 2015 season which I still can’t believe. The season has flown by, and it’s because the Diamondbacks have had a lot more fun this year.
At this time last season, the Diamondbacks were already out of the playoff race and were preparing to be a seller at the Trade Deadline thanks in large part to a horrific month of April.
A new front office, a new manager, and a new attitude has turned this team around, and at 42-42 heading into the final series before the All Star Break, the Dbacks are contending, and will have to be buyers at the deadline barring a huge meltdown.
Besides being healthier this year, this team is just playing better fundamental baseball thanks in large part to Manager Chip Hale and the culture General Manager Dave Stewart and President of Baseball Operations Tony La Russa have created.
It’s time to dive deeper into the Diamondbacks massive improvements through the first half of the season as I hand out midseason grades for each part of this team. Here we go!
Paul Goldschmidt is the best hitter in the National League. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Coming into the season, I thought the offense would be the strength of this team and it is most definitely is.
As a team, the Diamondbacks offense ranks 1st in the N.L. in runs scored (385), 1st in RBI’s (362), 2nd in batting average (.265), 2nd in OBP (.326), 3rd in SLG% (.404) and 3rd in OPS (.730)
The offense has saved the starting pitchers and the bullpen on to many occasions and is the main reason why the Diamondbacks are only 4 1/2 games behind the Dodgers for 1st place in the N.L. West.
This teams approach at the plate is more patient, and there striking out less frequently. Credit this teams approach to hitting coach Turner Ward, and Mark Grace.
What’s most impressive about this offense is how good they are with 2 outs in the inning. In 84 games this season, the Diamondbacks have scored the most runs and have the highest slugging percentage and OPS with 2 outs and men in scoring position.
Last season the Diamondbacks offense hit .206 with 2 outs and RISP. The ability for the Dbacks to generate offense even with 2 outs helps generate momentum and it’s a great way to frustrate opposing pitchers. It makes this team fun to watch.
Paul Goldschmidt is having a historic season at the plate, and is quite possibly the best hitter in all of baseball along with Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Miguel Cabrera.
Goldy ranks 1st in the N.L. with a .349 batting average, and he is second in hits, total bases, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. Oh and I’m not done.
Goldschmidt is the most patient hitter in the Senior Circuit and he will take his walks. He leads the league in walks, intentional walks, and he is 2nd in runs created, adjusted OPS+, adjusted batting wins, and adjusted batting runs.
RE24 unlike wRC assigns more value for hits with men on base. Goldschmidt is first in the N.L. in that category along with WPA, Base Out Wins Added, Base Out Wins Added, and Situational Wins Added.
There aren’t to many hitters more valuable to their team than Goldschmidt. He ranks 2nd in the N.L. with a 4.8 Offensive WAR.
Outfielder A.J. Pollock has had a phenomenal season hitting .304 with 18 SB, and Yasmany Tomas has become one of the Diamondbacks most consistent hitters. With a .303 batting average he is the 2nd best cleanup hitter in baseball.
The Dbacks are building a great core of young players that should keep this team competitive for awhile.
Rubby De La Rosa has allowed 18 home runs this season. This has been a big problem for the whole starting staff. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Ah the starting rotation. Unfortunately the rotation hasn’t been much better than last year. The team currently ranks 26th in baseball with a 4.26 ERA, and they rank 24th in FIP- which accounts for pitching at Chase Field at 107.
This year there has been a clear emphasis on more ground balls, and Jeremy Hellickson, Rubby De La Rosa, Chase Anderson, and Archie Bradley have all seen increases in their GB% compared to 2014, yet this team is giving up a ton of hard contact.
Rubby De La Rosa has given up 18 home runs in 103 innings pitched which is tied for 3rd in all of baseball. Jeremy Hellickson isn’t much better. He has given up 13 home runs in 90 innings pitched, and in 97 innings pitched Anderson has allowed 10 home runs.
As a team the rotation has allowed 107 home runs which is the 8th most in baseball. What’s interesting is that no team in baseball has thrown more pitches down in the strike zone than the Dbacks. 9.6% of the pitches have been between 18-21″ above the strikezone. Normally throwing down in the zone is good but it hasn’t gotten the results.
Keeping the ball in the park will be key.
Brad Ziegler has a 1.18 ERA with 18 saves in 39 IP. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The bullpen was expected to be one of the strengths of this team and while they have been much better than last year, the relievers have had a underachieving season so far.
As a relief core they rank 23rd with a 3.92 ERA. Addison Reed was so bad in the beginning of the year, that he is in the minors.
Ever since Brad Ziegler took over as the closer, the bullpen has become more stable and their getting better results. In 39 IP this season, the sidearmer has a 1.18 ERA with 18 saves. He has been so consistent this season and throughout his career. and it’s sad that he isn’t in next weeks All Star Game.
Daniel Hudson has stabilized the 8th inning. and Enrique Burgos has been a great find in the late innings. Despite the struggles overall, the bullpen has been so much better as of late. In the last 7 days the pen has a 1.77 ERA with no home runs allowed in 20.1 innings.
This should be something positive the Dbacks can take into the break.
Jun 6, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Ender Inciarte (5) reaches third base safely in the third inning after a throwing error by the New York Mets at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Diamondbacks have been one of the best base running teams in the MLB, a big part of the reason why this team scores so many runs.
The Dbacks have stolen the 2nd most bases in baseball with 78 and have a great SB%. The Dbacks also take the extra base more often than any other team and nobody goes 1st to 3rd better.
Sometimes the Diamondbacks are to aggressive on the base paths, but they get more scoring oppurtunities when they take extra bases, and they take advantage of teams defensive mistakes.
Jul 8, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock (11) hits a three run home run during the second inning against the Texas All stat OF A.J. Pollock is part of a great Diamondbacks outfield. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
In 84 games the Diamondbacks have made just 42 errors ranking 26th in baseball. As a team they have a .987 fielding percentage and have made 886 outfield assists.
This team has a great defense in the infield and the outfield something the pitchers should try to take more advantage of. Only the Royals have more Defensive Runs Saved than the Diamondbacks with 33, and they have the 6th best UZR at 15.1.