A Look at the Offense

There are a few different ways to look at the offense. Here, I compare the offensive performance to that of the average National League team, and attempt to identify problem areas in lineup construction and positions for improvement.

First, let's look at lineup construction. Here are the slash lines for the average NL team and the D-backs comparison.

Leadoff: .264/.326/.397. (D-backs: .285/.324/.396)
2nd: .266/.325/.407 (D-backs: .274/.301/.444)
3rd: .284/.365/.479 (D-backs: .335/.456/.655)
4th: .271/.339/.447 (D-backs: .303/.350/.500)
5th: .252/.311/.410 (D-backs: .282/.335/.431)
6th: .240/.296/.396 (D-backs: .252/.308/.381)
7th: .259/.313/.379 (D-backs: .256/.312/.342)
8th: .249/.311/.363 (D-backs: .215/.284/.304)
9th: .176/.220/.248 (D-backs: .179/.231/.201)

There are a few surprising things here. First, although we've had a lot to say about protection for Goldy of late, our cleanup hitters have been considerably above-average in all three statistics. Yes, the situational statistics haven't been good, but situational statistics have a way of equaling out with overall statistics in the end. Perhaps our concern shouldn't be so much who hits after Goldy as who hits before; our leadoff and #2 hitters are both below average at getting on base. This isn't the fault of Pollock, who has been above-average in every spot in the lineup where he has started. The fault of the leadoff spot lies with Ender Inciarte, who has been particularly poor leading off the game, but pretty good in subsequent at-bats. Still, his OBP for the year is a disappointing .316, 2 points lower than last season despite having a batting average 6 points better this year than last. He is capable of working counts; we saw that occasionally last year when he wasn't hitting well. But he needs to do it, and quickly, or be replaced.

The fault of the second spot in the order primarily lies with Trumbo, who won't be batting in that spot for this team any more. Chris Owings, who hit there early on in the year, is also in for a good bit of blame, but I doubt we will see him there either. What I do not think should be done is putting Inciarte there. For one thing, his OBP would still be below average without substantial improvement, and for another, the temptation to sacrifice would be too great, and that would basically be pointless with Goldy following. We could, of course, follow the dictates of sabermetrics and put Goldy there, but that would be too non-traditional.

I'm not too concerned about the 8th spot. Ahmed has been substantially better of late, and anyway, we've had at least one player really struggling and need to put them somewhere. I am surprised that 7th is right around average, given how many people we've had struggling.

The best thing to do at present with the lineup would be to bat the pitcher 8th, Inciarte 9th, Pollock 1st, and Goldy 2nd, but I don't think that will happen. We'll just have to see.

Now, looking at positional averages gives us another look.

C: .242/.304/.355 (D-backs: .221/.291/.292)
1B: .279/.354/.482 (D-backs: .345/.469/.675)
2B: .263/.320/.375 (D-backs: .228/.262/.326)
3B: .270/.330/.427 (D-backs: .307/.355/.417)
SS: .264/.312/.396 (D-backs: .233/.290/.337)
LF: .257/.318/.401 (D-backs: .271/.322/.417)
CF: .264/.326/.406 (D-backs: .309/.355/.470)
RF: .258/.329/.428 (D-backs: .283/.321/.502)

Did you know that our worst position for getting on base wasn't catcher, nor was it shortstop? That honor goes to second base, which has at least managed to outslug and out hit our catchers, but not by much. The biggest problem with this is that our planned second baseman, Chris Owings, has been healthy. Whenever Welington Castillo starts, he'll be the fifth starting catcher for the D-backs this year. That's astounding. One could argue that had the plan for Hernandez to start worked out, the offense would be just as bad. But still, that's a problem. The other issue is that although a change has been made behind the plate (whether it works or not) there really is no change to be made at second. Aaron Hill could (and possibly should) start there more, but he has put up poor numbers when there (he's put up good numbers when in the lineup at third.) Plus, Hill isn't part of the long-term solution here. Brandon Drury fits better at third, and he hasn't drawn walks. One wonders if new acquisition Jack Reinheimer might not make an appearance; he's been able to draw some walks and has been fairly consistent getting on base across four level in three seasons, but that experiment would almost certainly fail. No, the best thing to do here is to be patient and hope that Owings can work things out; he has the potential to be a valuable part of the lineup if he can do that.