As the baseball world turns it’s attention to the 2017 All-Star Game, all eyes will be on the power team taking the stage. The Arizona Diamondbacks are represented by four players, including team-leading home run hitters Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb. At the same time, power-hitting might not be enough for any team as the season enters the second half.
The reality is, power-hitting teams have not great shown the success. Since 2000, no World Series winning team has ever led all three of the triple-crown batting categories.
The 2009 Yankees came the closest, and took titles for RBIs and HRs, but falling .002 short to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the batting average category.
Conversely, pundits always say that pitching and defense wins World Series.
The pitching triple crown usually refers to wins, strikeouts and ERA, but let’s substitute WHIP for wins. Here, there are more factors into a team winning a game than just pitching. Since 2000, two teams have led in two categories and then won a World Series title. These teams are the 2016 Chicago Cubs and the 2010 San Francisco Giants.
Neither team led more than one category before the All-Star Game.
Currently, the offensive and pitching triple-crown categories are led by only two teams. The Los Angeles Dodgers (wins, ERA, WHIP) and the Houston Astros (SO, AVG, RBI, HR) are these clubs.
The only teams to lead in three categories? The 2016 Cubs and the 2009 Yankees. They both went on to win the World Series.
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The only team to lead in four categories? The 2001 Mariners. They lost to the Yankees (4-1) in the ALCS.
Does that mean the Dodgers and the Astros are not World Series calibre teams? Not necessarily, but 10 of the last 17 World Series winners didn’t lead a single triple-crown batting, or pitching category, nor did they lead the league in wins. Power to the underdogs.
The underdogs after the first half of the 2017 season? The Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks had a rough couple series leading into the Mid-Summer Classic, but don’t discount them.
They have a strong starting three in their rotation with Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker. Zack Godley has been a decent addition. If they can strengthen Patrick Corbin or sign another arm before the trade deadline, their rotation could improve
The struggle they face is in the bullpen. Fernando Rodney has had a roller coaster season. Until Rodney can maintain his control and consistency, one option could be Archie Bradley as the closer.
At this point, the offense isn’t broke and it doesn’t need fixing. Goldschmidt is doing what America’s first baseman does best. He also has the help he’s needs. Chris Owings and Lamb, while they aren’t household names, help keep the Diamondbacks ahead in the Wild Card.
Realistically, they will not take the NL West from the Dodgers, so Arizona should prepare to host the Wild Card game. Still, Athe Diamondbacks would have to get past the Dodgers in the NLDS. To do that, the Diamondbacks will need to limit Clayton Kershaw’s mound appearances, and find a way to hit Alex Wood, the second half of the Dodgers’ powerful one-two punch on the mound.
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The Diamondbacks and the Dodgers face each other 19 times before the NLDS in October, and provide a solid rivalry for an intense postseason match-up. The Diamondbacks might just be that well-rounded team that slides into the NLCS and then the World Series.