1st place Diamondback preview for 4/21/17

The Diamondbacks head home after a quick California road trip that saw them go 4 – 5 against the Giants/Dodgers/Padres. They had started the trip 6 – 1 and in 1st place, they ended it 10 – 6 and tied for 1st place with the Rockies.

This team has alot going for it but I see two main problems with the current makeup of the team if they plan on competing for 162 games. They have little depth, the best depth they have is a major league shortstop stashed at AAA in Ketel Marte.  The other problem is the bullpen.

If the Diamondbacks can stay healthy this team might compete all summer if they can do something with the bullpen. So far the bullpen has been adequate but no team with Fernando Rodney as their closer has made the postseason for a reason. Rodney has pitched in the postseason as recently as 2015 but not as the closer. The rotation is not spectacular but has a solid pitcher manning every spot in the rotation. The lineup is producing as expected.

The Good:

The team is extremely healthy. They don’t have one player of note on the DL.

Paul Goldschmidt is still the first baseman and as baseball moves toward the power game, Goldy is trying his hand at being a slash and dash 1st baseman. Last year Goldy saw his slug% drop from .570 to .489 but he stole 32 bases. This year Goldy has four stolen bases with two home runs. I’m not sure the Diamondbacks want their 1st baseman to end the year with more stolen bases than home runs. On the plus side, Goldy is doing something rarely seen in baseball history.  At 142 home runs, and 103 stolen bases, Goldy is the rare 1st baseman with at least 140 home runs and 100 stolen bases.

Player              HR  SB   PA  SLG   OPS     Pos
Lou Gehrig         493 102 9663 .632 1.080 *3/H976
Jeff Bagwell       449 202 9431 .540  .948  *3/HD9
Andres Galarraga   399 128 8916 .499  .846  *3H/D5
Derrek Lee         331 104 7963 .495  .859   *3/HD
Mickey Vernon      172 137 9838 .428  .787  *3H/79
Paul Goldschmidt   142 103 3423 .523  .922   *3/HD

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/21/2017.

Yazmani Tomas is picking up the slugging slack of Goldy. The expensive Cuban import came on strong in the second half last year and has kept the power going so far in 2017. Tomas doesn’t walk much and his defense is horrific to the eyes, but he does bring the thunder.

Jake Lamb had a great 1st half last year (.983 OPS) but dropped off precipitously in the second half (.663 OPS). This year he’s back at it with another strong spring. He is a young player but so far in his career, he does have this fascinating split going on:

Split          PA  OBP  SLG  OPS tOPS+
April/March   192 .401 .561 .962   146
May           101 .366 .544 .911   132
June          174 .328 .538 .866   119
July          166 .325 .477 .802   104
August        282 .277 .360 .637    64
Sept/Oct      267 .311 .376 .687    78

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/21/2017.

Neither AJ Pollock, David Peralta, or Brandon Drury are hitting up to their historical norms so the fact that they are in 1st place without significant contributions from this trio bodes well for them.

The rotation is not spectacular but has a solid pitcher manning every spot in the rotation. After seventeen games their starters are ranked 3rd in the NL by FanGraphs.

Grienke isn’t what he was with the Dodgers but does appear to be someone who can still be the main man in a rotation.

Robbie Ray has evolved into a wild man with a 11.9 K rate and a 5.9 BB rate but so far is keeping runs off the board. Something will change, either the walk rate will get better or runners will start scoring.

Shelby Millers looks very much like the guy that pitched for the Cardinals and Braves. Not great, but adequate. He’s certainly pitching better right now than Dansby Swanson is hitting.

Patrick Corbin may be the weak link. Before his TJ surgery in 2014 he had been a worthy all-star. He has been unable to get back to that level but is at least pitching every fifth day. In four starts he’s made two good starts and two bad starts.

Taijuan Walker might have the best stuff in the rotation, and the once highly touted Mariner prospect is holding steady so far.

The Bad:

Nothing really stands out. They are 11 – 6 after all. The bullpen has been better than I expected.  The only real problems have been the offensive output of AJ Pollock, David Peralta, and Brandon Drury.  I expect that to pick up but other than Pollock we aren’t talking about offensive juggernauts.

Eventually, I expect the lack of depth to put a dent in their postseason aspirations but for now things are going well for the Diamondbacks.

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    1. Arizona delivers a spanking | Dodgers, Yesterday and Today

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