We should be used to it by now. Paul Goldschmidt surpassing expectations: it's what he does. But by bWAR, Goldy gave us the greatest season ever by an Arizona Diamondback position player. Yes, better even than Luis Gonzalez's 57-homer 2001 campaign. [Oh, yeah: ans A.J. Pollock's campaign is #3 on the same list] How good was Goldschmidt? Only one 1B in the entire history of the National League has posted a higher bWAR figure: Albert Pujols in 2008-2009, and he was earning about $14 million each of those years. Goldie's price this season? $3.1 million. Enjoy and appreciate every moment of Paul, because he's a talent a team gets once a generation.
The illusion of contention
On August 23, Arizona had finished a four-game road sweep of Cincinnati, and were suddenly in the N: West race, five games back of the Dodgers, having trailed them by 10.5 games less than a month previously. Given we were 18.5 behind on the same date in 2014, and hadn't been so close to first that late in the season since 2011, it was a genuine delight to be able to write an article with the title, Are the 2015 Diamondbacks contenders or pretenders? It didn't last long: we were immediately swept in four by the Cardinals, and the D-backs went 3-11 over the next two weeks to fall firmly into the "pretenders" camp. But it was a glorious 24 hours, while it lasted.
In 2014, we had just two players appear in 120 or more games, and after Bronson Arroyo went down in August, had five pitchers - including our scheduled Opening Day starter - on the post-Tommy John shelf. This season, we had six position players reach 120 games, and four of the five players concerned are now back, pitching for us again. I'm going to write about this in more in a bit, but we had a full one-third fewer days on the DL in 2015, and over 30% of that came from the injuries to Gerald Laird and Tuffy Gosewisch. It's something you don't typically notice until it's no longer there - and that goes for your favored sports team as well as personally. Here's to the same in 2015.
Honorable mentions: The arrival of Welington Castillo, the return of Patrick Corbin, beating Kershaw (again), lots of runs. Greinke is more of a 2016 thing, in case you're wondering,.
Archie Bradley's injury
A 94-mph fastball from Bradley was returned, with additional mustard off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez - estimates had its exit velocity at 115 mph. It cracked directly off Bradley's cheek, with a sound that echoed around Chase Field. Bradlley dropped like a stone, and I'm sure I wasn't the only person who thought they had just witnessed the first death of a player in the major leagues since Ray Chapman in 1920. Remarkably, Bradley was well enough to come back from hospital to the dugout before the end of the game. However, it was a moment that no-one watching, whether at home or from the park, will ever forget.
The trade of Touki Toussaint
I say this, not so much for the trade itself - we'll likely not know the actual outcome of that for a few years - as for the civil war that broke out here. As someone who has to wipe the blood off the walls, it's never fun when a fandom turns in on itself. Even if this was relatively mild, compared to the post-nuclear apocalypse which followed the trade of Justin Upton, it wasn't what I'd call a great deal of fun. Enough said.
The Astros massacre
There are bad games and there are bad games, and there was this one. I have to take some responsibility for this, having pointed out in the preview, how helpful the fun-size environment of Minute Maid Park was for Houston. The result? A 21-run hammering which broke a 12-year-old record for most runs conceded by the Diamondbacks; indeed, only one NL team since 2001 has allowed its opponent to score more. All you could do by the end of this one, as Houston scored virtually at will, was laugh. It was a high-pitched, hysterical kind of laugh, accompanied by a wild-eyed stare and a gentle rocking motion.
Dishonorable mentions: Selfiegate, Dodgers winning the division, Jeremy Hellickson starts, Bradley's evaporation.