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Looking at potential non-Goldschmidt All-Star candidates for the Diamondbacks

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Goldschmidt is a virtual lock to be in the All-Star game now that his 2016 numbers are more in line with his career output and he’s hitting the ball like we’re accustomed to seeing. Even though the Diamondbacks are 32-39, there has been some bright spots on the team. Jake Lamb has stepped up to be the run producer that we expected him to be when he first got called up two seasons ago. Zack Greinke has looked like the $200M ace the Diamondbacks signed in his last 7 starts and is putting up a 1.90 ERA over that span. Chris Herrmann went from terrible in Minnesota to amazingly-good backup catcher in Arizona.

Jake Lamb

Lamb is batting .279/.364/.553 with 17 doubles, 3 triples, 13 HR, and 43 RBI in 258 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks this year. After losing AJ Pollock at the very beginning of the season and David Peralta fighting injuries all season, Jake Lamb has stepped up to be the 2nd run producer in the middle of the order. This season, Lamb made a mechanical change in his stance and his load point in order to get the ball in the air more often. That has translated to more extra base hits (has 12 more than last year), a huge jump in isolated slugging output (from .123 to .274), and career highs in virtually every category. Lamb gives competitive at-bats that works deep into counts, getting a lot of walks and strikeouts along the way.

Lamb might not make the All-Star team because of what is ahead of him. Lamb currently sits 4th among NL 3B in fWAR with 2.4 behind Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, and Matt Carpenter. Nolan Arenado is clearly the best 3B in baseball right now and is having a monster season. Kris Bryant is another lock for the game, although Lamb’s offensive productivity is about the same as Bryant’s this year. Matt Carpenter leads all NL 3B in OBP, OPS, OPS+, and wRC+, so he’s more deserving a candidate than Lamb. All 4 players are deserving to go, but unfortunately I do think Lamb gets the shaft here because Bryant can also play the outfield and Lamb is strictly a 3B.

Zack Greinke

Greinke started the season slowly to the despair of many Diamondbacks fans who were giddy upon hearing the news they poached him from the Dodgers. During that slow stretch, I was pretty confident he would rebound because there wasn’t any significant changes to his batted-ball profile, which suggested the BABIP spike was unsustainable, which it was. However, since the middle of May Greinke has been on a big run on the mound. His last 7 starts he’s 7-0 with a 1.90 ERA. His season’s body of work doesn’t suggest All-Star quite yet, so hopefully the run continues all the way through the All-Star break. Greinke currently ranks 10th amongst NL starting pitchers in fWAR and is 3rd in innings pitched behind Clayton Kershaw and Johnny Cueto, although both of them have made 1 less start than Greinke this season.

Greinke likely needs to push his ERA below 3.00 to get any serious considerations for the game and a bit of improvement in his peripherals. Greinke’s current FIP stands at 3.43, with Max Scherzer being the only pitcher in the Top 15 in fWAR with a higher mark. However, there’s reason to believe that they will, as Greinke has posted a 25/5 K/BB in 31 innings in the month of June and has allowed only 2 HR for a June FIP of 2.84 so far. Greinke’s soft contact rate is higher in June, which explains the very low BABIP against him. If Greinke is posting a sub-3.00 ERA and a sub-3.25 FIP, it’s very possible that he’ll be in consideration for the game.

Daniel Hudson

The Diamondbacks have had a terrific record when they get solid outings from their starters, going 25-2 when leading after the 6th inning. Daniel Hudson gets the 8th inning in a close game and has been terrific this year. Hudson has pitched to a 1.67 ERA in 28 appearances in 2016 and has emerged as a legitimate late-inning arm after recovering from back-to-back Tommy John surgeries. FIP and xFIP don’t give Hudson enough credit because of Hudson’s low BABIP, so going by RA-9 WAR, Hudson is worth 1.1 WAR. For those wondering, Hudson’s BABIP is .159 and it’s somewhat sustainable with a ground ball rate of 50.7%, a career-low line drive rate, and a hard hit rate of under 20%.

Non-closers don’t get a lot of consideration for the All-Star Game since they don’t pitch in the 9th inning, but Hudson certainly fits the profile of a shut-down reliever in the 8th inning. Overall, he carries a 11/3 shutdown to meltdown ratio, which should get better when he gets more opportunities in close games.

Brad Ziegler

Having a guy who can get you a double play is a great asset for a manager trying to win an All-Star Game. Ziegler started the season slowly when he lost his frisbee slider and looks dominant now that he has it back. After struggling against right-handed batters in April and early May (due to not having that pitch), Ziegler has reduced the production against him to a .293/.305/.414 mark and a .307 wOBA. Ziegler has had a strong month of June, with opponents hitting just .219/.240/.290 against him and a 6/1 K/BB ratio. Ziegler has converted every save opportunity awarded to him this season, going 14 for 14 so far.

Ziegler would be useful in a critical situation with the need for an inning-ending ground ball against a tough hitter in the All-Star game and over his career has been overlooked even though he should have gone to last year’s game. Ziegler offers a nice change of pace to the traditional closers that come in and throw upper 90s with wicked breaking stuff.