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SnakePit Round Table, Week 26: The season is over

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Well, the regular part of it. But, for once, there’s more to come!

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The D-backs are not quite charging into the playoffs. Are you bothered?

Makakilo: I am bothered to some extent because a habit of winning going into the playoffs would serve the team well. However, more important are the attitudes and mindsets of the players – on these attributes I am confident that they are ready for the playoffs.

“We are going to win, and I want us to expect to win.” Torey Lovullo interview on Doug & Wolf Show, 27 September 2017

James: I have some concerns, sure. Most of them revolve around the one-game play-in though. I’d like to see the Diamondbacks charging into the playoffs like an unstoppable juggernaut. I want Colorado to have as few reasons to have confidence as possible. Even the best teams can lose a single game, and that is what worries me most. If the offense slumps for a game, or if Greinke is merely “good” instead of great, then advancing to the NLDS could be difficult.

Turambar: Not happy with the recent quality of play, but not too concerned overall. Several sports writers, especially when talking about the Dodgers slump, accurately pointed out how Sept performance does not predict Oct results one way or another. Considering that along with the complete crapshoot a one game playoff represents we could be playing white hot right now and suffer a tragic defeat on Wednesday.

Ask me how I feel about their recent play on Thursday, when it will or won't matter anymore.

Steven M. Taylor: Not really. I am sad though, because I think that Goldy’s MVP chances have severely diminished. And even though Goldy does have prolonged slumps sometimes, I have a feeling he will be the player that we need when the time comes. As for the others, it looks like Lamb and Pollock are heating up a little, and while Just Dingers (™) is not a supernova anymore, he certainly hasn’t become a black hole. I also get the sense that some of the pitchers have been working on things the last week or so to try and fine tune their game for the Wild Card. So, not too worried right now, but that scale is relative because the one game wild card game scares the hell out of me, no matter how well the team would be doing.

Jim: Not at all. Their place in history will be entirely decided by what happens from Wednesday on. Certainly not a series in Kansas City where our starting pitchers were pulled after a total of less than 11 innings, and many of our position players not much later. It was nice to see them take the last game today, though - simply for the symmetry of going from 69-93 to 93-69.

Keegan: Not much to be bothered about after the 2017 regular season. I am not the biggest fan of the rest strategy after the Diamondbacks clinched, but I understand why Lovullo rested the players as he did. I was afraid that the Diamondbacks would begin to play a little too lax while the Rockies and Brewers would be forced to play their best baseball and fight for their postseason lives. None of it matters come Wednesday though, and I am confident that Lovullo has put his players in the best position to succeed. September performance does not have any bearing on postseason play, so there was not really much reason to panic.

Steven: If the D-backs were still fighting for a spot in the playoffs, then yes I would be concerned. But with their position already locked up and the team playing fringe bench players, I’m fine with the team struggling to finish the season.

Nate: Meh, not really. I trust the past 156 games more than the most recent 6, especially when they haven’t been playing the starters much during the last few games.

Overall, what will stick in your mind about the 2017 regular season?

Makakilo: The dynamic duo of Paul Goldschmidt and JD Martinez was a like a pair of eagles. Two MVP candidates batting three and four in the order. And no longer could another team pitch around Goldy with impunity.

James: A combination of things, highlighted by the arrival and play of J.D. Martinez. I’m also impressed with the rotation, and how it has stepped up to be one of the best overall rotations in all of baseball.

Turambar: A return to relevance. This is the team we hoped for in 2016, but got a year later. Quality starting pitching coupled with a fearsome O lead by Lord Goldy and pushed to even greater heights by Just Dingers.

Steven M. Taylor: Honestly, I would say that the memorable moments of 2017 will stick out in my mind for me; much in the same way 2001 was.

  • Starting with an amazing come from behind win on opening day against the Giants.
  • Setting the Major League record for consecutive team games with 11 or more strikeouts.
  • Coming within inches of setting/tying the records for consecutive innings without trailing, and consecutive innings with a lead.
  • Standing in line for Goldy’s Star Wars bobblehead.
  • Goldy’s incredible three home run performance against the Cubs.
  • Sitting in the stands the day they clinched the playoffs and home field in the WC.
  • My daughter being born three days ago, will always have that special connection with this season.

Jim: Congrats on the new arrival! I trust she is being named Greinkina or something. :) How much a pleasure it is - and yet, such a strain at the same time - to watch meaningful baseball. After five years where we were largely done by the end of April, this has been the season where every game became must see television. This year rekindled my passion. I always liked the D-backs, don’t get me wrong, but it has been a long time since I cared about them as much as I did this year.

Keegan: The 2017 season started off on the right foot with a walkoff win at home which is a stark contrast to how 2016 began. Pollock went down before the season ever started. Greinke and Shelby Miller were getting shelled early on. The 2017 Opening Day walkoff might have seemed meaningless at the time, but I would argue it jump started a successful April. Bert and BB were talking about the tremendous turnaround from the pitching staff this season, and that is without a doubt the biggest reason for success. The starting pitchers put the Diamondbacks in a position to win nearly every game. Doesn’t take much to succeed with the high octane offense the Diamondbacks have. I’m still bummed for Shelby Miller. I would have enjoyed watching him thrive this season and have a nice bounceback.

Steven: The pitching staff has been lights out and is really the reason this team has been as successful as they’ve been. When Shelby Miller went down with injury, I really thought this team would struggle getting anything substantial from his replacement. Zack Godley was amazing, and solidified the rotation from the right side. Robbie Ray took a huge leap forward in his progression, and Patrick Corbin showed enough flashes to keep him as a starter. The big offseason acquisition, Taijuan Walker, rounded it out with solid starts. There isn’t one starter I wouldn’t be comfortable with starting a playoff game.

Nate: Have the Diamondbacks ever had a team this fun? The walk-offs, the come-from-behind-wins, J.D. Martinez, Robbie Ray’s scoreless streak, the pitching staff being actually good, Archie Bradley… I’ am sure there are a couple thrilling moments which we’ll look back on and say “oh yeah, I forgot that even happened” since there are just too many things to keep track of.

What were the high and low points?

Makakilo:

High – On 24 September, against the Marlins, JD Martinez’s walkoff hit clinched the wild card spot. What a thrill! That’s a fantastic way to clinch!

Low – On 21 August, Jeff Mathis was injured. My concern was high because D-backs’ pitching was the goose that laid golden eggs.

  • In the 27 August roundtable, I talked about Mathis was the best pitch framer as measured in plus-calls per game (13th in Majors vs 22nd Iannetta and 57th Herrmann).
  • I expressed concern that Iannetta and Herrmann would be overworked and susceptible to injury (glad that did not happen).
  • My concern that Greinke would be impacted was lessened when Greinke pitched well on 25 August (6.2 innings with 2 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, and zero walks).
  • Little did I suspect that a historic winning streak had started – 13 games running between 24 August to 6 September. The streak was awesome because it had 6 wins against the Dodgers and 3 wins against the Rockies. My concern with Jeff Mathis was replaced with an unshakable confidence that the D-backs would clinch a wild card spot.

James: For me the high points were the 13-game winning streak, combining with the consecutive innings without giving up a lead, and then the Diamondbacks clinching a playoff berth. J.D. Martinez going yard four times, in Chavez Ravine, at night, was special - so special that it stole much of the thunder of Robbie Ray dominating the hated Dodgers. That was a great night.

The low points were, losing Pollock early in the season, the series in Minnesota, which changed the tenor of the team’s play for the season, and then just the month of July in general. Getting swept by the Dodgers hurt, but then following that up by losing to the likes of Atlanta and Cincinnati just put an extreme damper on what had been, to that point, an excellent season. That was the point at which the Diamondbacks fell back to the pack and let things get close enough to keep things “interesting” until late into September.

Turambar:

High: 13 game win streak. All the pieces just seemed to fit and for the first time all season I realized we had not just a good team, but a team that had the tools to make some noise in October.

Low: July 4th series versus Dodgers. I'm pretty sure this was our last chance to truly and realistically catch the Dodgers for the division. It wasn't meant to be and we got swept, starting a brutal July slide which almost saw us lose our Wild Card spot.

Steven M. Taylor:

High: The high point for me can be pinpointed to a single moment, and that was the ninth inning of the Dodger’s game in LA on Labor Day. JD hit four home runs, the Dbacks were about to win their 11 th in a row, the Dodgers were in a free fall, Robbie Ray dominated the Dodgers over 7.2 innings with 14 strikeouts. It was pure bliss.

Low: The low point for me was the fear that Goldy was going to be out for the year in the middle of another MVP caliber campaign. Thank God that didn’t turn out to be too much, even if he is slumping in September.

Jim: It’s hard to pick out specific high points, because the first month was kind of a creeping realization that this team was actually good. The 13-0 win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles was awesome. But so was the extra-inning scoreless game against the Rockies, won on Descalso’s walk-off pool shot. Or that endless game in Chicago with multiple rain delays and Goldschmidt home-runs. Awesome. The lows were few: Rodney blowing a three-run lead in LA was brutal, but the only time I was genuinely worried we might fold was after the sweep in Minnesota.

Keegan: The highs and lows for me were spaced closely together. Right around that dismal losing streak in Minnesota is when I began worrying that the Diamondbacks would have a 4th quarter collapse and miss the postseason entirely. It was as bad as the team had looked all season. Then the eclipse happened that next week and suddenly the Diamondbacks decided they were tired of losing, let alone trail in a baseball game. Outside of that stretch losing Miller as I mentioned above was really disheartening. I had just finished watching him dismantle the Padres in person during my first visit to Petco, and I thought he was on the cusp of turning the corner. It was all over shortly after as his season came to an end in his next start at Chase Field.

Steven: The high for the season is completing the 3-game sweep of Los Angeles in September was huge for proving they deserve to be in the playoff conversation. The lows were most of the injuries, from Shelby Miller to Paul Goldschmidt’s elbow scare.

Nate: I have 2 highs: sweeping the Dodgers twice, and a game I was at where David Peralta hit a game-tying homer in the 9th, and Chris Herrmann walked it off in extras. First ever walk-off I’ve witnessed in person.

The low would probably be when Rodney blew the 3-run lead in LA. That hurt, but I wouldn’t say there was ever a point in the second half when I thought “oh no, the wheels are coming off now.”

Predict where Paul Goldschmidt will finish in MVP voting.

Makakilo: Because Paul Goldschmidt finished second twice, and because this is a contest without a clear winner, I predict that Paul Goldschmidt will finish first. After all, third time’s the charm!

James: I think it depends on what Giancarlo Stanton does today. The Marlins are batting him leadoff to get him an extra at-bat in his chase for 60 home runs on the season. If Stanton swats one into the seats, I think he winds up winning the award. If Atlanta can contain Stanton though, I think Goldschmidt ends the season in first or second. Goldschmidt’s late-season fade is covered up somewhat by the Diamondbacks’ eventual record, and although J.D. Martinez casts a bit of a teammate shadow, Arenado has the same issue with Blackmon, and Rendon has the same issue with Harper. Given that Goldschmidt has finished second twice before, I like his chances of getting some votes that acknowledge his continued multi-season excellence.

Turambar: I pray it's Goldy’s turn, but would not be surprised at all if he loses out again.

Jim: Second. His September fade has probably lost him the edge; if those numbers had been put up in April, everyone would have forgotten them. There are likely half a dozen potential candidates, but I think it will end up going to someone on a playoff team: Arenado would be my bet, though it could be any one of about six.

Steven M. Taylor: I wish I could confidently state that Goldy will win and should win, but I cannot. He deserves to win one, but in past years he has failed to even receive one first place vote. He is an unassuming, consistent machine that will spit out terrific numbers and performances year after year, but does so while flying under the radar. He’s not flashy, he hasn’t been in many commercials, isn’t in the home run derby, and I daresay that he isn’t even a household name. Unfortunately, the mixture of Stanton approaching 60, Blackmon and Arenado putting up great numbers on a winning team, and Votto being a beast like usual will prevent Goldy from winning the award. I will be ecstatic if he wins, but I think it will be a second or third place finish for him, with Arenado and Stanton fighting him in the top 3.

Keegan: I think it is entirely possible he will finish outside of the top 3 and even outside of the top 5 with what I’ve seen being mentioned from those with a vote. Giancarlo Stanton will win it I fear, and not that I think he does not deserve it. If Goldy would have played in September as he did in August, than there would not have been much of an argument against him.

Steven: His late season slide in September along with Giancarlo Stanton’s obliteration of every pitcher relegated Goldy to at best 2nd place. I just don’t feel he’ll get the recognition he deserves.

Nate: I will say… 3rd. Stanton gets first, then either a Rockie (a Rocky?) or Votto.

Who’d get your vote for MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year?

Makakilo:

NL MVP: I will compare Paul Goldschmidt, JD Martinez, and Giancarlo Stanton. My comparison is based on three factors: Flash, impact, and mental attitude.

Flash: I looked at slugging, homers,RBIs, and at-bats-per-homer

  • Martinez (full season): .693/45/104/9.6
  • Martinez (D-backs): .748/29/65/7.9
  • Goldschmidt: .565/36/120/15.4
  • Stanton: .633/59/131/10.0

JD Martinez scored first place in slugging and at-bats-per-homer.

Giancarlo Stanton scored first place in homers and RBIs.

Impact: I looked at WAR and did the team exceed expectations.

  • Shoewizards’ fanpost showed that Stanton has the highest WAR (both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs).
  • Beyond any doubt, Goldschmidt and JD Martinez are a huge part of why the D-backs exceeded expectations and will play in the postseason. The Marlins will not play.

Mental Attitude: Goldschmidt and JD Martinez are team players and role models of humility. This contrasts with my impression of Stanton from these two quotes:

  • “I’m sick of the negativity. Anything positive I’ve done, there’s still negativity. I’m doing this … but the owner’s doing that. I’m doing this, but the team’s doing that.”
  • [his chase for 60 home runs is] “a fun little obstacle,” and “...if it doesn’t happen … oh well.”

Midseason move of JD Martinez to the D-backs: This article states, “There is plenty of precedent for midseason acquisitions to receive MVP “love” and JD Martinez might have a better case than each of them.”

After considering Flash, Impact, and Mental Attitude, my MVP vote goes to JD Martinez.

Manager of the Year: Torey Lovullo. Let’s consider four strong points.

  • With the same core of players, the team exceeded the pre-season expectations by making the playoffs. The manager must have had an impact!
  • I am favorably impressed with what he has said to the media about the mental game of baseball. Two examples are 1) letting players express emotion, and 2) expecting to win. I am confident he has positively impacted the attitudes and mindsets of the players.
  • He started building constructive relationships with the players before the season started. The team’s success is strong evidence of his success in building relationships and motivating players..
  • A huge change from last season was the analytical pregame preparation. I credit Torey Lovullo with effective use of that preparation in each game.

James:

  • Cy Young - Zack Greinke

As much as I like Robbie Ray, I still need to give it to Greinke. After all, I have Greinke as the NL’s #3 Cy Young candidate. Next season will be very interesting though. If Ray stays where he is in terms of performance, I think he could be a leading candidate for both the team and league award in 2018.

  • Rookie - Sir Not Appearing in the Film

If he had still been eligible, I would have gone with Zack Godley as the easy answer. But, since he isn’t eligible, I am left to chose from the likes of Anthony Banda, Jimmie Sherfy, Christian Walker, and Ildemaro Vargas. None of the them played enough games to really establish themselves as worthy of the award. I suppose, if I must give the award to someone though, I’ll give it to Jimmie Sherfy. While Banda is the one who actually provided the most significant amount of playing time, Sherfy made the very most of the little time he was given. In fact, Sherfy has most likely done enough with his limited playing time that his September performance may have secured him a place on the playoff roster.

  • MVP - Paul Goldschmidt

As much as J.D. Martinez’s arrival changed the tenor of the season and as fun as it has been to watch him play at this historic pace, if it weren’t for Paul Goldschmidt’s performance on the year, Arizona never makes the trade for Martinez. Furthermore, despite Goldschmidt’s late season injury and struggles, his presence in the lineup was a benefit for Martinez. There has been plenty of talk about how Martinez has come along and protected Goldschmidt in the lineup, but it goes both ways. Also, with awards like this, I like to look at the complete game, and Goldschmidt is the better runner and defender - by a longshot.

Jim: I vote Robbie Ray as our Cy Young. His number were the best across our rotation, and you can hardly mark the missed time as his fault. Goldy as MVP, but on a per-game ratio, it would have to be J.D. Martinez. Only half a season: however, what a half! Yeah, Rookie of the Year is a tough one, with no obvious candidate. But Sherfy was enormously impressive at the end of the year - he still hasn’t allowed a run! - and filled a much-needed spot in the bullpen. He’s my pick.

Keegan: I would give the team Cy Young nod to Robbie Ray. He finally harnessed the talent many suspected he had in him. I hope that this is just the beginning of his reign of dominance. MVP would obviously be Paul Goldschmidt. He carried this team to contention in the first half as he typically does. Luckily, the Diamondbacks did not have to rely on rookies heavily this season, so the choices there are a bit difficult but the obvious nod would have to go to Jimmie Sherfy. He pitched lights out in the midst of a stretch postseason run.

Steven M. Taylor: So, don’t kill me here, because I have the biggest man crush ever on Goldy and I wouldn’t say something like this lightly. But, I would say that the Dbacks MVP is J.D. Martinez. I am going to act like the rest of the baseball world, and take Goldy for granted (I apologize baseball gods for this sin), but man, I wonder where we would be without JD. He provided some much needed protection behind Goldy when Jake Lamb started to slump, and he also carried this team through several games. Cy Young would be Zack Greinke because he’s got numbers almost as good (or better) than Ray, but over 40+ more innings. Rookie of the Year has to be Jimmy Sherfy for a good showing, and a lack of viable candidates.

Steven - Zack Greinke is the Cy Young and MVP with Anthony Banda winning Rookie of the Year by default.

Nate:

  • MVP- Gold-tinez
  • Cy Young- Greinke, although I would be happy to hear an argument for Ray or even Bradley if you wanna be a cool hipster.
  • Rookie- Pass.

Player of the week

Martinez continued his surge, winning 58% of the vote, and consequently makes it into the top five - not bad for someone whose name we hardly had even heard of at the All-Star break! Here are the updated totals, after all the voting for Week 25.

  1. Paul Goldschmidt: 327%
  2. Zack Greinke: 271%
  3. Patrick Corbin: 249%
  4. Robbie Ray: 230%
  5. J.D. Martinez: 195%
  6. David Peralta: 154%
  7. Jake Lamb: 141%
  8. A.J. Pollock: 117%
  9. Fernando Rodney: 106%
  10. Archie Bradley: 107%
  11. Chris Owings: 75%
  12. Brandon Drury: 60%
  13. Chris Iannetta: 54%
  14. Randall Delgado: 41%
  15. Zack Godley: 40%
  16. Taijuan Walker: 40%
  17. Jimmie Sherfy, 34%
  18. Nick Ahmed: 30%
  19. Ketel Marte: 28%
  20. T.J. McFarland: 27%
  21. Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
  22. Chris Herrmann: 16%
  23. J.J. Hoover: 9%
  24. Yasmany Tomas: 7%
  25. Daniel Descalso: 6%
  26. Jake Barrett: 5%
  27. Andrew Chafin: 2%
  28. Anthony Banda: 1%

A little bit of a weird week here, with home-field advantage having been clinched. That meant a lot of playing time for the B-squad. Nobody had more than 18 at-bats this week, or pitched more than 6.2 innings. But here are the five candidates for the final round of voting - as with the regular baseball awards, we will not be taking post-season performance into play [though we may have a poll for an MVP of each round].

Poll

Who was the Player of the Week, Sept 25-Oct 1?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Andrew Chafin: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 4:0 K:BB, 0.00 ERA
    (0 votes)
  • 23%
    Jake Lamb: 5-for-12, 4 BB, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1.194 OPS
    (9 votes)
  • 66%
    J.D. Martinez: 7-for-18, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1.222 OPS
    (26 votes)
  • 10%
    Robbie Ray: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 6:2 K:BB, 1.35 ERA
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Taijuan Walker: 5 IP, 3 H, 6:1 K:BB, 1.80 ERA
    (0 votes)
39 votes total Vote Now