Arizona Diamondbacks: The Wonderful Perversion Of The MLB Offseason
By TC Zencka
As the Arizona Diamondbacks shuffle sadly into the MLB Offseason, remember this: baseball is a fickle, indefinable beast.
The MLB Offseason has begun, and with it the Arizona Diamondbacks’ annual identity crisis.
They contended for most of the year, but they cratered in September and fell to third place at 82-80: does that mean they’re contenders? Should the team rebuild? Or push harder for contention? What should I be doing with my hands? Is this what walking looks like?
Here’s what we know: the 2018 Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions because they won the World Series. That’s a heck of a thing. Good on them. But it doesn’t mean they were the “best” team. It doesn’t mean it was their year. Or that they were God’s chosen team, or Rob Manfred’s chosen team, or Tim Kurkjian’s chosen team. It doesn’t mean they’ll win next year.
It only means they won the World Series this year. Red Sox fans can and should celebrate. The rest of us can and should lament their victory. Watch them celebrate, enjoy their victory with hungry empathy and look ahead to next year, when one team out of thirty, maybe even yours, will win the 2019 World Series.
It’s not random, but there’s definitely no formula. For a snapshot of baseball’s capriciousness, look no further than the most consistent hitter in baseball history: Khris Davis.
Against all odds, Davis hit exactly .247 in each of the last four consecutive seasons. If there’s constancy in baseball, if there’s definition, this must be it. Khris Davis is a .247 hitter.
No. For his career, Khris Davis is actually a .248 hitter. Surely, this is his new normal then. He’ll hit .247 next season. No, no, no. Fangraph’s Steamer Projection System pegs him at .239 next year. That’s so baseball.
Baseball is a fanciful game, and yet, this time of year we become obsessed with controlling for baseball’s fancy, for uprooting our underlying assumptions of the game, for finding and creating more and better ways to bolster our feeble attempts at predicting the future of this game.
Sabermetrics – and baseball fandom with it – has become a kind of masochistic perversion. New and better stats enter the lexicon each year, like adding hay to an already significant haystack, each additional bale an earnest attempt at revelation. As if more hay will make it easier to find the needle.
There is no needle, my friends. There is only the cumbersome task of sifting through the thousands of iterative roster configurations to find the perfect path forward for your favorite squad.
It’s Sisyphean. It’s wonderful. It’s baseball’s offseason. Welcome and enjoy.