Another fitting metaphor for the past week.
The road-trip has been a terrible, futile one for the Arizona Diamondbacks at the plate. Over the six games in Atlanta and Philadelphia, they have accumulated a total of just nine runs, and have hit a paltry .162, in 185 at-bats. Just about everyone has gone cold at the dish - and I don't mean "slightly chilly", or even "you could keep a side of meat in them," I mean the near absolute-zero frigidity of intergalactic space. Of the ten batters to have double-digit plate-appearances for the team, seven of them have posted an OPS of below .400 for the week.
So: worst week ever? I've trawled through franchise history to try and find comparable streaks. Here's what I found.In terms of productive offense, as measured in its purest form - runs scored - we have had worse spells, though not many of them. The awful 2004 team, for example, had several runs where they scored ten runs in six games, but escaped without sinking into single-digits. To find something like this we need to go back to the end of July 2003, where Arizona managed a total of seven runs over six games: three at home against Los Angeles, then three on road against Florida. Remarkably, the team actually took the series against the Dodgers, beating them 2-1 and 1-0, before losing the finale 1-0. They then got swept by the Marlins, though all three games were one-run losses.
In some ways, that was worse. It was part of a streak of nine contests where the Diamondbacks were held to two runs or less, having been preceded by a series in San Francisco where we were swept, and mustered a total of four runs. That would be eleven runs in nine games. However, this was largely driven by clutch futility: during the six games, they still hit .189, with a .550 OPS - ninety OPS points higher than the 2011 have managed over the past week. And over the extended nine games, when we averaged 1.2 runs per contest, Arizona batted a semi-respectable .217.
We have now had five games in a row getting six hits or less, which ties a franchise record. I have also not been able to find a single six-game spell in the history of the team where the team average has been as low as the recent figure of .162. The closest I could locate, was at the end of May last season, when from the 23rd through the 29th, Arizona batted .178. However, they scored a total of 12 runs, and had an OPS of .521; again, considerably higher than the .460 of late. The same average of .178 also occurred August 15-20, 1998; there, we actually got 20 runs, thanks to a .579 OPS. Compared to these, this recent run is a whole new level of suck.
The problems during the streak have been both getting runners into scoring position, and then doing anything with them. The rest of the season, we have averaged about eight at-bats per game with RISP, and have hit .254. During these six games, here's what the Diamondbacks have done:
Aug. 16 (W 3-2): 3-for-10
Aug. 17 (L 2-9): 0-for-0
Aug. 18 (L 1-4): 0-for-2
Aug. 19 (L 2-4): 3-for-14 [the Braves were 0-for-3!]
Aug. 20 (L 1-8): 0-for-2
Aug. 21 (L 0-1): 0-for-6
During the five-game losing streak, we been held hitless with runners in scoring position in four of them, going a collective 3-for-24. Overall, the 6-for-34 Arizona has posted is a .176 average, so close to being in line with what the team has done in all situations.
As noted, it's just about everyone in the line-up having decided to start sucking simultaneously. Here are the individual numbers for all our position players on this road-trip. Warning, readers of a nervous disposition, might want to consider averting their eyes...
Those are some ugly, ugly lines. You won't score many runs when five everyday players (Parra, Upton, Roberts, Young and Bloomquist) are batting below .155, and as we saw yesterday, St. Kirk's effort to "shake things up" by sitting Upton and Roberts, and placing KKKKJ, Willie Sink and CYNot at the top of the order, failed miserably, as the latter trio went 1-for-10. Gibson's appears to be a calm approach, and one can understand that, as panic moves will help no-one. However, if the team doesn't start to score runs in Washington, one wonders if more radical shake-ups might be in order - though it's hard to see what might be done. Not benching J-Up and RyRo may help...
The good news is, these things have a habit of turning themselves around, and doing so pretty quickly. Taking the three streaks noted earlier , how did the team do in the following six games?
1998: .271/.365/.458 = .823 OPS, 3-3, 35 runs scored
2003: .266/.329/.422 = .751 OPS, 4-2, 24 runs scored
2010: .225/.294/.343 = .637 OPS, 2-4, 20 runs scored
The last one, incidentally, included the two extra-inning 1-0 losses at Dodger Stadium.
But, all told, we should generally expect a rebound. No-one seriously believes .162/.233/.227 is this team's true level of talent. It's just that when you are struggling, there's rarely a way out of the tunnel visible, until you get there. The team BABIP of .235, is certainly due some regression to the mean, and that alone should take our numbers with it, and generate more runs. The sooner this happens, I think the happier we'll all be.