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The Record-Breakers, 2007

I was going to start the review of the Community Projections today. And then I looked at them. Let's just say, they will be reviewed from the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory, with a sign on the door saying "Beware of The Leopard". Or, at least, not this week. Instead, just had a very nice dinner at The British Open in Scottsdale - I recommend the fish and chips - while we watched the Cowboys-Packers game. Mrs. SnakePit brought up an interesting point: why do you never see gridiron managers getting kicked out of games, or at least, not with the frequency of baseball ones. And, in particular, Bobby Cox or Lou Pinella. Does it have something to do with instant replay? Or is there so much aggression on the field of play there, that the coaches seem meek and mild in comparison?

Anyway, in lieu of those projections (I think I just threw up a little in my mouth...), figured it might be amusing to take a look at how the 2007 season stacked up on the individual record front. Starting with batting average, where we find absolutely no new entries in the top ten for the D-backs franchise history; given our "limited" offensive performance, no real surprise there. The team leader was Orlando Hudson's .294, good for 17th on the all-time list, and just ahead of last year's champion, Conor Jackson at .291. O-Dawg's an unexpected winner there; we had a poll before the season started, and Hudson was chosen by only 3% of participants. [The winner was Jackson at 40%,, Stephen Drew next at 29%. That'll give you some idea why I'm postponing that projections thing. :-)] Orlando's on-base percentage of .376 was just good enough to crack the top ten, however, and the same goes for his 70 walks.

Nothing to see in slugging percentage though, with Tony Clark leading the way, in fifteenth with .511. The lists, which I'm using here, have a lower number of plate appearance for qualification than the "official" MLB batting title, etc. Best OPS for 2007 goes to rookie third-baseman Mark Reynolds; however, to put that into context his, .844 was only good enough for 22nd, between Alex Cintron's 2003 and Tony Batista's 1998. Still, no less than five D-backs - Reynolds, Jackson, Clark, Hudson and Byrnes - beat out 2006's best OPS, Jackson's .809.

Eric Byrnes missed only two games, and played in the first 124 games of the season, running his consecutive games streak to 164 before sitting out the finale of a series in Atlanta on August 19. Only Gonzo has played in more games during a season - he was an ever-present in both 2000 and 2001. Must be something about the left-field corner, as it occupies the top three slots, with the most by a non-LF, Shawn Green's 158 in 2005. That undoubtedly gave Byrnes a leg-up in some other categories: he fell one short of equalling Matt William's record number of at-bats, and was fifth for most hits, Eric also scored 103 runs, =6th-most, and a number not surpassed since Gonzo crossed home 128 times in the year we won the World Series.

Byrnes thirty doubles led the club, but that wasn't even good to crack the top twenty in Diamondbacks' history; similarly his 83 RBI was fifteenth. He was pipped for triples by Hudson, whose nine were one more than Byrnes but both men made the top ten. Orlando tied himself from 2006 in sixth, and Eric sits alongside Garcia and McCracken in eighth. Chris Young and his 32 homers were also good enough for eighth all-time, and blew away the franchise rookie record, previously held by Travis Lee who hit 22 in 1998. Again, this surprised readers, with Young rating only 12% of the votes in a pre-season poll. Carlos Quentin won that, with 43%. I refer you my previous remarks on our predictive skills. :-) Quentin did lead the team in HBPs with eleven, an impressive number since he was only in half the games. That was equal sixth, and Byrnes, who had one fewer, was euqal eighth.

No shock to learn Young also led in strikeouts, and his final tally of 141 trailed only Troy Glaus in 2005. He was chased all the way by Mark Reynolds, who K'd 129 times, fourth-best in AZ history, in only 111 games. That would be almost 190 over a full season, and I expect the pair to go head-to-head for the record next year too. Young's speed netted him 27 stolen-bases, sixth-most, but a long way behind Eric Byrnes, who became only the second Diamondback ever to swipe fifty bags. Tony Womack had an astonishing 72 in 1999, a figure reached in the majors only once since, Jose Reyes stealing 78 for the Mets this year. Finally on the hitting side, there was one franchise mark set: O-Dawg grounded into a double-play no less than 21 times. It's a little weird - as the triples show, he's not a slouch, but on April 24th, he managed to hit both a three-bagger and into two double-plays, the only major-leaguer to do that this year.

On the pitching front, we are, for obvious reasons, talking largely about Brandon Webb. Webb's 3.01 ERA was tenth-best ever by a Diamondback, giving him his second entry in the list - his 2.84 in 2003 rates sixth. The 18 wins were a career high, and is a number reached previously only by Curt and Randy, and the same goes for his 194 K's [=8th]. Webb has increased his innings pitched every year since making his debut in 2003, and has thrown over 700 in total over the past three seasons: seventeen more than the next most in the majors (Johan Santana). Five complete games was in Schilling-Johnson territory too, though I suspect Randy's franchise mark of twelve in 1999 will likely never be challenged.

Among the relief crew, Jose Valverde cruised past the saves record to see a new mark at 47, and also snagged the career record: he currently sits on 98. Pena's 75 games and Lyon's 73 were good for 4th and 6th respectively, though both fell a long way short of the record holder, Oscar Villarreal who pitched in 86 games during 2003. Micah Owings also made a brave stab at becoming the most savage head-hunter in Arizona history, hitting 14 batters; if he'd started more often, he might have challenged the Big Unit's record of 18, set in 2001. I've little doubt getting hit by Johnson probably hurt a good deal more though. :-)

Looking over this all brings to mind the question of whether we should be revising the All-time Top 10 Diamondbacks, originally written almost two years ago. Here's the list as it was then:

  1. Randy Johnson
  2. Luis Gonzalez
  3. Curt Schilling
  4. Steve Finley
  5. Brandon Webb
  6. Jay Bell
  7. Matt Williams
  8. Craig Counsell
  9. Byung-Hung Kim
  10. Tony Womack

No doubt, I think, that Webb should move up a spot or two - but exactly where to? And has Valverde now done enough to justify inclusion? I don't think the past couple of seasons have thrown up many other candidates for inclusion, but perhaps Orlando Hudson and Chris Snyder could end up listed, with a strong 2008? All comments on this topic are welcome.