Week 1 is in the books and Diamondbacks managed to pull out a .500 record to start the season off. Not all that bad compared to last years 1-5 start in the same number of games. But lets not get all excited about it as much as Jim gets excited about 20 beers in the Draft Room. Lets do some honest assessments shall we?
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No one not named Archie Bradley has an ERA under 5 and the starting rotation is averaging a 5.64 ERA. That's 3rd worst. It's a little better than the 6.29 ERA for March/April of 2014. The teams FIP compared to last year isn't tremendously better. 4.84 for March/April of 2014 compared to 4.24 last week.
Granted, we are obviously working with a SSS here and they could easily improve during the course of the month. We'll have a much better idea by May 1st what we're looking at.
The number of pitches thrown per inning is also quite concerning. They're the leagues worst at 18.54 pitches thrown per inning. The national average is 16.08 pitches. That may not seem like a lot, but over the course of 162 games it adds up to more pitches, and more bullpen use.
So far so good for the bullpen. Despite a couple of hickups for Perez, Schugel, and Marshall the bullpen has been solid. Andrew Chafin appears to at least for now, be the teams long man. One observation in Sunday's GDT was that we have a lot of guys in the bullpen who can eat up multiple innings. Delgado, Hudson, and Chafin are all considered potential starters. Perez and Ziegler are also good at eating up innings with little to no damage. For as poorly as the starting pitching has been, the Bullpen have been good at taking up the slack. Is this the NEW way of doing things? Could we see a secondary rotation of sorts in the bullpen?
The teams bullpen ERA is 8th best at 2.19. They seem to be doing it quite quickly as well with an average of only 15.2 pitches thrown per inning. That's a full 3 pitches better than the starting staff. I'll have to see if Jim can explain to us why the Bullpens WAR is only 0.
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There isn't a bunch to say about the defense other than Trumbo and Hellickson could use a little work. 3 errors in the 1st week is actually quite good compared to the rest of the league. The Yankees and A's both already have 9. Fielding percentage wise they're .005 points better than league average at .988. Nick Ahmed has been pretty strong in the SS position turning 3 double plays.
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The interpretations of offense are about as varied as fingerprints. My own personal judgement about the offense is that they're not doing great, but they're not doing poorly either. Obviously the stars of the week have been Goldschmidt, Lamb, AJ, and Inciarte... though Cliff Pennington deserves an honorable mention.
I do have my concerns at the awfully high K rate for Goldie and Trumbo. I think we all kind of assumed Trumbo would have some high strike out numbers this year, but 24% for Goldie is a bit high. Last March/April he had a 20% K rate so perhaps it's just SSS once again fooling with the averages, but even to the naked eye it seems he's lost a bit of plate discipline.
Probably the most disappointing in plate discipline has been Chris Owings. His 37% K rate is not going to earn him a lot of at bats this year and might force Chip Hale to run Hill out there more often than he'd like. Last year CO was only striking out 20% of the time in March and April. Hopefully he can steady things out and continue to be the future of the Diamondbacks middle infield.
As for the team in general, here's a quick comparison of the overall team stats between March/April of 14 and last week:
Both strikeouts and walks are up. Average, OBP, and SLG are almost identical. BABIP is up, and ISO is down. There really isn't much to conclude from this, and yes once again we should mention it's a very small sample size. But the fact that it's so completely in line with last years numbers should probably not be that surprising. If anything I think most people expected a bit of a drop off from last year, and so far that hasn't happened. We should also take a moment to recognize, last year for March/April the teams record was an abysmal 9 and 22.
Despite the new guys like Lamb, Ahmed, and Tuffy all getting thrown into the everyday lineup the production is about the same. When you look a little more in depth at the hitting, you can start to see a bit more color.
More ground balls to fly balls and a higher BABIP. Again, SSS to be sure.
Clearly there is less plate discipline. More swings per pitch and more swinging strikes. The contact rates are lower across the board. 34% of pitches outside the zone are being swung at, while fewer pitches are being swung at in the zone compared to last year. Again, that was a 9-22 team that swung at 61.8% of pitches in the zone last year. This team is WORSE so far.
If they are going to get any better, plate discipline has no where else to go but up. Turner Ward and Mark Grace have their work cut out for them to make this happen. Perhaps it's just all the new kids on the block and a black hole named Trumbo batting cleanup. Perhaps it's just the SSS.
Based on the numbers, this team should be fairing worse than last years team. The only explanation I can come up with for a better record so far than this time last year, is timely hits and a bullpen with a lot of long relievers. The top of the order with AJ, Inciarte, and Goldschmidt have been run producers with a little magic thrown in by Jake Lamb. If they continue putting up these numbers though, I think we're in for a much bumpier ride than the first week would lead us to believe, and frankly I'm nervous. Laws of regression and all that.
(Editors correction. Last years ERA was 6.29 and FIP was 4.84. Sorry for the bad data.)