The June Swoon: Reviewing the Diamondbacks Month

Team Record: 9-17
Runs Scored: 124 - Runs Allowed: 128

Series Record: 1-6-1

Is it just me, or did the past month feel an awful lot worse than that? Ok, it was still the fewest games won by the Diamondbacks since June 2006, when we went 8-20 (boy, we really don't like June!). But I was surprised to see we scored almost as many runs as we conceded. Just for comparison, in 2006, our differential was -72, rather than the -4 posted last month - the closest we've come to parity all season. The main reason the record doesn't reflect this, is that the Diamondbacks were 2-6 in one-run games in June, but were 4-0 in games decided by seven runs or more.

But after the jump, we'll go into more details, about a June we'd probably rather forget, and list the nominees for AZ Player of the Month

You wouldn't know it from a pretty miserable won-lost record, but the Diamondbacks' team performance over the past month was actually the best it has been all season, with the offense producing the highest OPS and the pitchers delivering the lowest ERA for a month in 2009. Here's a comparison of the numbers from April and June in a variety of categories. I've also put the overall league average this season as the third column, for comparison (though these numbers are not park-adjusted, etc.).

April
(9-13)
June
(9-17)

NL Av
Hitting
BA .231 .254 .257
OBP .308 .332 .330
SLG .394 .406 .405
OPS .703 .739 .736
R/game 3.82 4.77 4.45
Pitching
Opp BA .258 .255 .258
Opp OBP .324 .326 .333
Opp SLG .421 .395 .412
Opp OPS .745 .721 .744
ERA 4.52 4.11 4.25

That makes for interesting reading - especially for Hinch's critics, because it seems that both the pitching and hitting of the team have improved, comparing his first full month in charge to Melvin's last. Some of that may just be random chance, but not all of it - while BABIP for the hitters increased significantly from April to June, the number for the pitchers was basically identical. What helped on the mound was the team's ability to keep the ball in the park: in April, they allowed one home-run per 31.8 at-bats; in June, it was one every 43.4 AB. However, countering that, in June the defense surrendered nineteen unearned runs, almost four times as many April's five.

Before we get to the five candidates for Diamondbacks' Player of the Month, I want to give out a couple of awards for the "Most Improved" Hitter and Pitcher of June. The former goes to Chris Young, who improved his OPS from .420 to .910. Of particular note, he led the team in walks, trotting to first in June more often than he struck out - that's especially impressive since in May, his K:BB ratio was 23:2. He was also 7-0 stealing bases. On the mound, it goes to Jon Rauch, who had an ERA of 2.08, allowing seven hits and three walks in thirteen innings. Given his ERA was 9.00 when he took the mound on May 8th, the Blowfish has turned it around nicely, and been scored on in just two of his last sixteen appearances.

And with that, on to the five men who most impressed the academy [ok - that'd be me] in the month of June. They are in order of alphabetical importance:

  • Dan Haren. Six starts, each seven innings or more, two runs or less. Overall ERA for the month:1.64. 44 innings pitched, allowed only six walks while striking out 42 batters and holding opposing hitters to an average of .151. Oh, and hit .462 (6-for-13) too.

  • Mark Reynolds. Had a line for the month of .286/.372/.592, giving him a team-leading OPS of .964. Also led the D-backs in June for homers (8), runs (19) and RBI (26). And K's too, naturally, though his K:BB ratio was still better than Lopez and Parra.

  • Max Scherzer. What's most impressive about Max's 2.17 ERA, is that it was done on the back of a .302 BABIP, so can't be considered a 'lucky' ERA. He didn't allow a single long-ball in June, a great improvement on May's figure of seven.

  • Justin Upton. Hit over .300, though a BABIP regression inevitably led to a drop from May's .373. Got his K:BB ratio for a month down below 2:1 for only the second time in his career. Reached base safely in 23 of 25 June games, and had his first grand-slam.

  • Clay Zavada. Just surpassed Doug Slaten for 4th-longest streak of scoreless games to open a career. (19) Can't argue with a zero ERA, though eight walks in 12.1 IP is high. Doing better with inherited runners, only three of nine scored in June, compared to 5/6 in May.
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