9 out of 16.
That’s how many times, now, that the Diamondbacks have led the NL West at the start of June. Perhaps even more remarkably is that the team then went on to win the division 5 of those times. It’s obviously too early to say if the Diamondbacks will represent the division in the playoffs, but that’s pretty good company to be in.
But what about those other 3 years? When did the post-June swoon begin?
In 2000 the Diamondbacks were up 4.5 games and had a 33-19 record going into June. Then they promptly reeled off two straight months of .400 ball, yet somehow still did not relinquish first place until August 1st.
In 2006 the Diamondbacks were only up .5 games, and nearly immediately dropped like a rock. The team would rip off a 7 game and two 5 game losing streaks, all in the month of June.
In 2008 the Diamondbacks were up 4.5 games, and everyone still felt good after that dominant April. They then played .400 ball for the next two months. Like 2000, however, they wouldn’t immediately lose the lead. It would take until September 6th to move out of first, at which point there was little fight left.
9 seasons isn’t a lot to extrapolate from, but there’s still some interesting things see if you take the data a little farther. Below is a chart showing the Run Scored and Run Allowed before June 1st for each year the Diamondbacks were in first.
As you can see, there’s a clear difference between the years the Diamondbacks make the playoffs, and those that they don’t. Namely that after May the team either largely performs within the pythagorean expectation of the first two months and they make the playoffs, or they fall far short of the mark and don’t have meaningful games in October.
9 out of 16 Junes, the Diamondbacks have sat in first. It’s a little tidbit that should serve as a reminder how good we’ve had it. Yet even with the team leading the division after 2 months, I can’t help but feel like at some point the magic will end.
Part of this is probably because the season hasn’t felt particularly magical yet. There’s certainly been some outstanding performance so far from Paul Goldschmidt, Gerardo Parra, Patrick Corbin, and Didi Gregorious. At the same time, however, it doesn’t feel like there’s a whole lot of greatness to the team, nor does it feel like we’ve even seen our true team yet.
The injuries have been well documented, and guys continue to swap in and out of the DL. At this point it’s a bit difficult to imagine what would it be like to have everyone back. Injuries happen, though, and the D-backs have been able to keep rolling.
I want to believe this will be another good year. But even knowing the history, and seeing this team play, I can’t help but have doubts. Perhaps that’s just me trying limit my disappointment through anticipation.