With Monday night's 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins, Manager Torey Lovullo secured his 353rd win during his tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks. That tied him with former Manager Kirk Gibson for the most in the Diamondbacks' history. While Torey has had 10+ more games to do it in, it's an impressive feat for a manager whose job was supposedly on the verge of being lost over the last two years. Instead, Torey has the chance to be not only the longest-tenured manager in team history but also the most winningest. His total record is 353-385 over 738 games. He has yet to win a division in the loaded NL West and has 10 ejections on his resume.
Torey Lovullo is known for being a player's manager. The players love him. When Ketel Marte signed his extension, he made sure to point out that Torey Lovullo being the manager was a big reason he wanted to stay. Lovullo has had his issues in the past, particularly with trusting his pitchers too much and bullpen mismanagement. It appears he's grown past that as he becomes more experienced. It doesn't hurt that Torey made some amazing hires for his new coaching staff. Most importantly, he hired legendary pitching Brent Strom who has been a crucial part of the team's turnaround when it comes to pitching.
Instead of the team being a pitching laughingstock, the team now has 3 starters ranked in the top-10 of ERA for the entire MLB!
Torey knew this team was better than they played like last year or to start this year. Now, the team is drawing walks and hitting HRs at an impressive rate. The Dbacks are hitting despite striking out too much. That's also despite a league-low .237 BABIP (batting average on balls in play). That's a sign of much better hitting and offense to come as it's highly unlikely the team finishes the year with that low a BABIP. They are the lowest by .11 points which speaks to how unlucky they are. Their speed is affecting the game as they've hit in only 13 double plays and have stolen 14 bases.
Perhaps Torey trusts his hitters too much, but he's a manager that believes in his guys and knows that one of the only ways to snap his players out of slumps is through playing. Sending them down or benching them for a week will only create more mental issues such as worrying and stress. That never will help a player play better. That's why Seth Beer continues to play nearly every day despite being in a 0-for-35 skid right now. Beer will get that hit that breaks him back open. It just takes one.
Meanwhile, the team's defense is improving every day as Ketel Marte gets more used to 2nd base and with Nick Ahmed back at SS. The Diamondbacks have 4 Defensive Runs Saved, far better than say the Giants who are a rival and have -12. The Diamondbacks had -37 runs saved last year, 4th worst in the MLB. Now they are middle of the pack, which is huge. Torey's a big believer in defense and the team is proving him right so far.
According to Fangraphs, the Diamondbacks are 4th in team defense with an 8.1 rating. They're 3rd in Outs Above Average with 11. The Zone Rating for the team is a healthy 1.2. All of these are far better than last year where the team ranked among the lowest in the MLB.
As for how the team is actually doing? The team is exceeding all expectations so far. At least the ones set by the media and many fans. The team may be in last place in their division, but that's only because it's the toughest division in the MLB. They are 16-14, 2 games over .500. If they were in the NL Central, they would be in 3rd. In the NL East? They would be 2nd. The AL East would have them sitting 4th. The AL Central would have them sit 2nd. The AL West would see them 3rd.
Over their last 14 games, the team is 10-4. Over their last 10, they are 8-2. The team has allowed only 115 runs to score. Meanwhile, the team has an impressive 10-12 record against teams over .500. By the way, the team has had the toughest schedule in the MLB to date. I'm enjoying this while I can since who knows how long it will last. However, this team is playing with an underdog mentality and doing everything they can to prove last year was a fluke. With more top prospects ascending to the MLB soon following Alek Thomas, we will have growing pains, but tons of excitement to watch for. With a steady manager who seems to know how to connect to each of his players, Torey Lovullo has the ability to continue to be a good manager. This team will play their hearts out for him, and I hope they do good enough to get Torey another year or more of managing the team he has helped build and grow.