clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Where the 2014 Diamondbacks struggled

New, comments

I found an interesting chart on Baseball-Reference.com, which breaks down the struggles of the 2014 D-backs by position, and gives some insight into where they need to improve in 2015.

1B and CF: the two positions where the Diamondbacks DIDN'T struggle...
1B and CF: the two positions where the Diamondbacks DIDN'T struggle...
Christian Petersen

The stat in this case is Wins Above Average by position - note, not Wins Above Replacement, though that wouldn't affect the order, it would just drop the baseline. Couple of things to note. The P column is a total which also includes offense by pitchers, so won't just match SP + RP. Also, these number. are, according to B-R, "computed at the team/position level by prorating the players' team-season totals by time played at the position, so they may not represent exactly what the player did at that position, but rather it assumes they were equally valued at each position." I am not sure what this means, but since they thought it important enough to mention, I'm passing it on!

Rk Tot P SP RP Pos C 1B 2B 3B SS LF CF RF OF DH PH
1 WSN
17.4
WSN
14.9
WSN
12.7
WSN
2.3
PIT
12.3
MIL
4.3
CHC
2.9
PIT
1.6
LAD
4.6
STL
3.5
PIT
3.1
PIT
5.1
MIA
4.2
PIT
7.9
LAD
0.1
LAD
1.2
2 LAD
15.8
CHC
4.5
LAD
5.0
SFG
2.0
LAD
11.8
PIT
3.9
LAD
2.1
LAD
1.3
WSN
3.2
COL
2.5
MIA
1.3
NYM
3.9
ATL
3.9
MIA
7.7
STL
0.1
COL
-0.3
3 PIT
9.1
LAD
4.0
CHC
3.7
SDP
1.7
COL
4.9
CIN
2.5
ARI
1.7
PHI
1.0
CIN
3.0
LAD
1.9
STL
1.1
ARI
3.8
LAD
1.7
LAD
3.3
COL
0.1
NYM
-0.4
4 SFG
4.4
ATL
3.6
CIN
3.6
ATL
1.3
WSN
2.5
SFG
2.3
NYM
1.4
CIN
0.1
COL
1.7
ATL
1.6
LAD
0.9
MIL
2.4
WSN
1.5
NYM
2.4
MIL
0.0
PIT
-0.5
5 STL
3.4
PHI
3.4
STL
3.6
MIA
0.8
NYM
2.0
SDP
1.4
COL
1.2
NYM
-0.1
NYM
0.9
WSN
1.6
ATL
0.8
MIA
2.2
SFG
1.3
ATL
2.1
MIA
0.0
SDP
-1.0
6 MIL
1.5
SFG
2.9
PHI
3.3
MIL
0.0
SFG
1.5
PHI
1.4
ATL
0.9
STL
-0.1
STL
0.7
PIT
1.2
SDP
0.4
WSN
1.3
PHI
0.4
WSN
1.2
PIT
0.0
CIN
-1.0
7 ATL
0.0
STL
2.5
MIL
3.1
PHI
-0.1
STL
0.9
COL
-0.6
CIN
0.4
MIL
-0.8
SFG
0.7
PHI
1.2
COL
0.3
COL
1.2
PIT
-0.3
COL
1.2
SFG
0.0
SFG
-1.1
8 NYM
-0.1
MIL
2.1
ATL
2.8
PIT
-0.3
CIN
-0.1
ATL
-0.7
SFG
0.4
COL
-0.9
PIT
0.6
SFG
1.1
MIL
-0.2
STL
1.0
COL
-0.3
MIL
0.9
WSN
0.0
ARI
-1.1
9 CIN
-1.0
MIA
1.3
MIA
0.6
CHC
-0.5
MIL
-0.6
WSN
-0.8
SDP
0.0
SFG
-1.0
SDP
-0.2
ARI
0.8
NYM
-0.4
LAD
0.7
NYM
-1.1
ARI
0.1
SDP
-0.1
STL
-1.2
10 MIA
-1.6
SDP
0.6
SFG
0.3
NYM
-0.7
MIA
-2.9
STL
-1.0
WSN
0.0
WSN
-1.2
ARI
-0.6
CIN
0.6
WSN
-1.6
CIN
0.2
SDP
-1.2
SFG
-0.9
ARI
-0.1
MIL
-1.4
11 COL
-3.1
CIN
-0.9
NYM
-0.9
STL
-2.2
ARI
-2.9
NYM
-1.5
STL
-0.1
CHC
-1.3
MIL
-1.0
SDP
-0.3
ARI
-1.9
SFG
-0.2
MIL
-1.3
STL
-1.0
PHI
-0.1
MIA
-1.5
12 SDP
-3.7
NYM
-2.1
SDP
-1.9
LAD
-3.0
ATL
-3.6
ARI
-1.5
MIL
-0.9
MIA
-1.9
CHC
-1.1
NYM
-0.6
SFG
-2.0
SDP
-0.5
ARI
-1.8
SDP
-1.3
NYM
-0.1
ATL
-1.5
13 PHI
-5.6
PIT
-3.2
PIT
-2.2
ARI
-4.0
SDP
-4.3
CHC
-1.7
PIT
-2.4
ARI
-2.2
MIA
-1.1
CHC
-0.7
CIN
-2.5
CHC
-1.6
CHC
-2.5
PHI
-4.7
CIN
-0.1
WSN
-1.5
14 CHC
-7.4
COL
-8.0
COL
-2.3
CIN
-5.0
PHI
-9.0
MIA
-1.8
MIA
-2.9
SDP
-2.8
PHI
-2.3
MIA
-1.4
CHC
-2.9
PHI
-1.9
STL
-3.1
CIN
-5.6
ATL
-0.1
PHI
-2.2
15 ARI
-11.0
ARI
-8.1
ARI
-4.1
COL
-6.0
CHC
-11.9
LAD
-2.7
PHI
-3.3
ATL
-2.8
ATL
-3.1
MIL
-1.7
PHI
-3.2
ATL
-2.6
CIN
-3.3
CHC
-7.0
CHC
-0.2
CHC
-2.8

Ok, having spent 30 minutes fiddling with CSS and attempting to get the above table to display in a format that fits within the page and makes the D-backs numbers stand out... What do we see? Well, it's perhaps a good antidote to the optimists - and that seems to include new GM Dave Stewart - who think a couple of tweaks are all the team needs to contend. Because it shows that the only positions at which the Diamondbacks were in the top half of the league, were at first-base and center-field. He's right that the starting pitching, where we finished dead last, is the biggest hole, but all-round improvement is needed.

Now, it's fair to say that this improvement could come from the same personnel playing better, and good health in 2015 would also be nice. But the chances of things getting better, seem to vary enormously around the diamond. I can see Chris Owings being better at shortstop, certainly. But will Miguel Montero, now 31 years old, get better? Or Aaron Hill, who'll turn 33 before Opening Day? And how is Stewart going to improve the starting rotation, with $21.5 million committed already to Trevor Cahill and Bronson Arroyo?

Based on the above, it looks like we need to pick up about fifteen WAR to be in the top five. That seems low, considering we were 24 games back. of the second wild-card team. But it's roughly in line with what fWAR says: the "worst" NL playoff team were the Giants, who totaled 32.4 fWAR, while Arizona were at 22.1. Some of the gap is because the difference in Pythagorean record was less: we were 20 back of both Pirates and Giants, but I'm not sure why fWAR has us only about half as much down, even of that.

Can we pick up 15 wins next year? It's possible, certainly. But I think it would require a combination of smart moves and some good fortune, in terms of development and/or a return to form by existing players. I would be very happy with a solid .500 season in 2015, giving us something we can build on, toward contention the following year.