2023 Diamondbacks: 3 areas of weakness
No doubt about it, the Arizona Diamondbacks have started out the 2023 season playing some pretty good ball. They recently took 3 out 4 against the Dodgers, shut out a hot Brewers offense on Monday night, and still sit atop the NL West.
They are currently second in the league in stolen bases, 4th in the league in doubles, and 7th in the league in striking out the opposition. In some areas, this young Diamondbacks team is thriving. They have won multiple games with their athleticism and unique style of scoring runs.
Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly appear to be molding into their highest form. Ryne Nelson has looked solid, and Andrew Chafin has looked dominant out of the pen. As I said, in some areas, this Arizona team looks like they could compete with anyone in the league; but in other areas, they are struggling mightily. Let’s take a look, shall we…
Diamondbacks weakness #1: Drawing walks
Plain and simple, the Diamondbacks are not being patient at the plate. Because of this, they have only walked 22 times this season; putting them dead last in that category. Less than 2 walks per game… yeah that isn’t good.
To put into perspective how bad 1.83 walks per game is (22 walks/12 games) let’s look at the league leader in free passes. The LA Dodgers sit in first place in base on balls, averaging 5.42 walks per game (65 walks/12 games). 5.42 compared to 1.83, yikes. Walks lead to runs, simple as that. LA is first in walks, and second in runs scored. The Diamondbacks are last in walks, and 15th in runs scored.
I get that the Arizona hitters want to be aggressive, but as Peter Brand says in the movie Moneyball “Their starting pitcher should be throwing 100 pitches by the 5th inning.” I couldn’t agree more. The D-backs should be focused on getting to the opposition's bullpen. Arizona is currently 29th in pitches seen per plate appearance; the bottom line, patience is a key to success in baseball.
Diamondbacks weakness #2: Power struggle
Home runs don’t necessarily win you ball games, but they sure do help. Arizona is currently 27th in home runs per AB; averaging 1 home run every 44 at-bats. It has been a power struggle, to say the least.
With 9 home runs in 12 games, Arizona has had to get creative on how they bring men to the plate. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but teams can only be creative for so long until the juice runs out. No, this team is not built to be top 10 in HRs, and that is okay. But it would be nice to get one or two guys going in the HR parade.
Christian Walker, who led the team in HRs last season has gotten off to a sluggish start. Hopefully, if he begins to obliterate balls out of the ballpark again, it will inspire the guys around him to find their power swing.
Diamondbacks weakness #3: Walking the opposition
The Arizona pitching staff has been racking up strikeouts like crazy, but unfortunately, they have been racking up walks at a similar pace. The Diamondbacks are currently last in the league in walks per 9 innings (5.23) along with having the third worse strikeouts to walks ratio (1.74).
The command has not been there for the Diamondbacks hurlers, and that has really hurt them. Teams are only hitting a mere .229 against Arizona (5th best in the MLB) yet walks have hurt them so bad that their team ERA (4.97) is 20th in the league.
Both Madison Bumgarner and Merrill Kelly have struggled giving up free passes in this young season. If the Diamondbacks pitchers can retune their deliveries and figure out how to gain control and command of their pitches, we might see a drastic 360 change from this pitching staff…