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2016 Arizona Diamondbacks Performance of the Year: Wham, bam, thank you Lamb

Jake Lamb’s solo rescue against the Dodgers on July 16, was the best single game of the year by a D-back.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The voting

  1. Jake Lamb, July 16 vs. Dodgers - 40%
  2. Robbie Ray, Aug 20 vs. Padres - 21%
  3. Jean Segura, Sep 14 vs. Rockies - 18%
  4. Daniel Hudson, Aug 20 vs. Padres - 9%
  5. Rubby De La Rosa, April 28 vs. Cardinals - 7%
  6. Yasmany Tomas, Aug 17 vs. Mets - 5%

Where it ranks

By Win Probability, Lamb’s game was easily the biggest of the year. It would have been the biggest of last year as well. Indeed, you have to go back to 2013 to find a more influential single-game performance. That was Paul Goldschmidt on August 13 against the Orioles, where he tied the game with a 9th-inning homer, and then walked us off with another shot in the 11th. It was worth +79.8% - and, hey, whaddya know, it won Goldschmidt the 2013 ‘Pittie in this category as well, the last position player to do so. Clearly, hefty WP is the key to success here. Below, you’ll find details of the best games by a Diamondback, in Win Probability terms, this year [as mentioned previously, the best by a pitcher was Hudson’s hold, at +55.1%]

Top 5 D-back games by WP in 2016

Rk Player Date Opp Rslt AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO WPA
Rk Player Date Opp Rslt AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO WPA
1 Lamb 7/16 LAD W 2-1 5 1 3 2 1 0 1 0 0 78.0%
2 Tomas 9/12 COL W 12-9 5 3 4 1 0 1 5 0 0 70.7%
3 Lamb 9/9 SFG L 6-7 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 63.6%
4 Castillo 7/2 SFG W 6-5 4 2 2 1 0 1 4 0 1 61.6%
5 Goldschmidt 4/24 PIT L 10-12 4 3 2 0 0 2 3 3 1 59.0%

As an aside, the worst game this year by an Arizona position player for WP belongs to Rickie Weeks on May 15 vs. the Giants. With the D-backs down by a single run, one out on the bottom of the ninth, and men on the corners, he came off the bench and hit into a game-ending double-play. That single PA was worth -46.4%, the third-lowest in all of Diamondbacks history.

The narrative

Turambar was the designated recapper on this one, and the title, “A detour, on the slow march to the season's end and inebriation,” proved entirely appropriate. Though he managed to miss all the fun, handing it over to me just in time to appreciate Lamb’s heroics, along with a nice Leinenkugel's Berry Weiss.

Up until the ninth, it had been a very tight game, Archie Bradley dueling with former D-back Brandon McCarthy for the front six innings. Bradley had been good, allowing only an RBI single in the third to Justin Turner. But McCarthy had been even better, blanking Arizona on three hits and no walks, with eight strikeouts. The bullpens then held serve through the middle of the ninth, and Michael Bourn hit a one-out single to give Arizona hope. Goldschmidt could only manage a mile-high pop-up, and that brought up Lamb as the D-backs’ last hope. After taking ball one, Bourn stole second on the next pitch, a called strike. Another ball made the count 2-1, then Lamb fouled off a pitch to bring him to the team’s final strike. But he made it count, rifling the ball into the left-center gap for an RBI double, worth 46% of Win Probability.

Free baseball, folks! The tension wasn’t over, particularly in the top of the 12th, where the Dodgers had a man on second with nobody out, and loaded the bases against Enrique Burgos, before Randall Delgado came on and got Yasiel Puig to hit into an inning-ending groundout. #SadPuig. That brought up the Diamondbacks, and wouldn’t you know it, Lamb was leading off the bottom of the 12th. He worked himself ahead in the count against LA reliever Casey Fien, and then drove a 2-1 pitch through the shift and down into the right-field corner for an easy stand-up triple.

That was worth a further +29% in Win Probability for Lamb. It was the Dodgers’ turn to be on the ropes, and they opted to walk both Welington Castillo and Yasmany Tomas, to load the bases and set up a potential force at home off the bat of Brandon Drury. They even brought in an outfielder to give them five men on the infield, but Drury was unfazed, pushing the ball through the right-hand side, and allowing Arizona to snatch a victory which seemed extremely unlikely for most of the game. As the Fangraph shows, we were increasingly the underdogs, for every pitch after the end of the second, through Lamb’s ninth-inning heroics. The victory ended an Arizona losing streak at five games, but due to the All-Star break it had been a season-high 11 days since the D-backs had won their last game. And in a way unsurpassed last season, it was due to a single player: Jake Lamb.

Here’s Lamb’s post-game comments.

Watch Lamb’s performance

All ‘Pitties since 2006