Should the Dbacks Chase a Wild Card Berth?

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

The Arizona Diamondbacks have had an up and down season. The ups did not seem to last long, but the downs did. Let me give you a couple of examples; Do you remember that with 33 games played the Diamondbacks were at 18-15? Seems like an eternity ago. What about on June 19th when .500 was still within striking range and their record was 31-35? That seems like forever ago as well, but in reality, it was only 26 games ago. The problem is, in those last 26 games before the All-Star break Arizona's record is 9-17. They have dropped into last place in the division and are seemingly hanging by a thread. But there still is a thread there and does that mean the Diamondbacks should make trades at the trade deadline as though they are pushing for a Wild Card spot?


The Arizona Diamondbacks find themselves at 40-52 at the break. 21 games behind the 1st place Dodgers and despite the fact that they went 3-7 in their last 10 games going into the All-Star break, they are only 9 games out of the final Wild Card spot. 9 games do not seem like a lot. Just to give you an example, had they won just 5 more games before the All-Star break, they would only have 8 teams of the 15 with a better record than them, if only 5 more games. This time of year, in the baseball season every club is trying to figure out if "what if's" can turn into wins with a couple of trades. What should the Diamondbacks be trying to turn "what if's" into?

Let's not dwell on "what if's" let's look at what the real numbers are, starting with pitching. Arizona has 4 starters who have started at least 15 games with an ERA under 4.00. They are the only National League team who can make that claim and only the Mariners and Yankees can join them with that claim in all of baseball. Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen are leading the way on a pitching staff that has been a work in progress. If you take Zac's WHIP (1.078) and his 93.2 innings pitched, he is one of the 19th best pitchers in the majors. Last year Kelly had a 4.42 ERA and this season he has an ERA of 3.26, which is a big improvement. 

So, if the pitching has been good to average, then why are the Diamondbacks not closer to .500? Well, it is a two-prong answer. The first is why they do have a respectable 4.34 team ERA, but that ranks them 23rd out of the 30 teams, and while they also have a respectable 1.32 WHIP that ranks them 22nd of the 30 teams. 

The second prong is their offense. Ranking 28th in the majors with a .223 batting average and 23rd in runs scored with 383 is not going to get you closer to .500. They have 676 hits which ranks them 29th and their OPS is tied for 24th. Even with decent pitching the offense is bad enough where they have allowed 53 more runs than they have scored.

To be fair, not all of their offensive stats are terrible. Of the 15 National League teams they are 8th in strikeouts, 6th in triples and home runs and 3rd in walks. 


So, the current Wild Card rankings are Atlanta at 56-38, San Diego with a record of 52-42, and Philadelphia at 49-43. So, let's take the Phills. They have played 92 of the 162-game season, giving them 70 games left. Let's say they only go .500 and win 35 more games giving them 84 wins. For the Diamondbacks to catch them they would then need to go 45 and 25, 20 games over .500 for the 2nd half of the season. None of the 3 National League Wild Card teams went 20 games over .500 in the 1st half of the season and only the Dodgers and the Mets in the National League had a record in the 1st half of 20 games or more over .500.

The answer to the question of should the Dbacks go for a Wild Card berth, the answer is no. They should sell off all of their expiring contracts and lower the average age of their team from the current 27.0 and give all the kids a chance.