Mike Petriello from ESPN posted an insider article about the DBacks today and frankly it's sickening. If you feel like raising your blood pressure you can read the article at :
Mike is also a contributor at FanGraphs which should tell you he's a fan of Sabermetrics.
The essence of his article is that the Diamondbacks are not winning because of "gritty" play, but rather star-power. He uses the lack of stolen bases, bunting for base hits, and sacrifice bunts to make his argument... but I ask you, is that how you measure grittiousness? Then he concludes the reason the DBacks are in 1st is because everyone else isn't measuring up. Wow.
How about some other stats.
Defense has long been the standard for how HARD a player works at his craft. It's because the energy and expertise to play a position in the outfield is much more intense. You only get one chance to field the ball. You get 3 strikes to hit one in play.
Defensively, they're tied for 2nd in fielding behind the Orioles with .990. They're 5th in UZR and 1st in DRS (Defensive Runs Saved). They aren't in first of DRS by a little either. They have 49. 2nd place has only 32 which is the Royals. I'd say their defense is pretty darn grittious.
As for offense, they're 6th in total hits, 13th in RBI's, while only being 24th in home runs. Pretty sure that means they work hard for their runs and don't rely on the long ball much to score. Oh yeah, and the team batting average is .265 which is the 7th best in MLB with the 5th most singles (4th in doubles). Again, not relying on the long ball.
Now, their situational hitting has been pretty bad. As I've noted before they've hit into the most double plays (now at 67, 1 ahead of the Angels). However their average has come up considerably since April. They're now batting .257 with RISP. At one point early May I believe that was all the way down to .170.. but I don't recall specifically.
However, when it comes to plate discipline, the DBacks are very good.
They're 3rd in BB% with RISP. That means they stay patient at the plate when there are ducks on the pond. They're strikeout rate is 17% with RISP. That's the 8th best.
80.6% of the time they swing at a ball, they make contact. Not the best but still good enough for 11th and well above average.
Lastly, lets look at pitching.
They have a 74.6% LOB percentage. That good enough for 8th in MLB. With RISP, they have the 7th best ERA of 10.36.
The point is Mr. Petriello is only going to look to stats that fit his already made up narrative. I can do similarly if my narrative is that they ARE a grittious team. I can find plenty of things that tell me the DBacks are not long ball hitters and rely on "Small Ball" to win. It isn't all about bunts and stolen bases. It's about aggressive turns at 1st and legging a single into a double. It's about going 1st to 3rd on a single. It's about throwing out guys at the bases. It's about turning double plays (they're 6th in turning DP's BTW). It's also about finding ways to win when your back is against the wall. And that's the one stat Mr. Petriello completely missed.
8 extra inning game wins and 19 comeback wins.