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2017 Arizona Diamondbacks Review # 5: Zack Greinke

Money well spent

Divisional Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
  • Date of Birth: October 21, 1983
  • 2017 Line: 17-7, 3.20 ERA, 202.1 IP, 215 K, 1.07 WHIP
  • 2017 Value: 6.3 bWAR
  • 2017 Salary: $34 Million (some will be deferred to the future)
  • 2017 Snakepit Rating: 8.72

2017 Analysis

I believe that this particular review needs to start before the 2017 regular season even began. The Arizona Diamondbacks had a very tough 2016, and their expensive new ace had a season that was more indicative of a middle of the rotation pre-arb player. Coming in to 2017 expectations varied both for the team and for Zack Greinke, and when Spring Training rolled around, fans began to worry like never before. Greinke’s velocity was diminished and pundits began the rhetoric train of “Greinke has fallen off a cliff, and this could end up being the worst contract in sports history”. Yet the regular season started, and Zack showed why his superior wits and preparation would prevail.

In 2017, Zack wasn’t overly flashy like a Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer, but his steady and consistent success made him nearly as valuable as those aces (as evident by his fourth place Cy Young finish). In fact he was so consistent that in looking at his game logs from 2017, his ERA was never as high as the 4.37 ERA that he posted in 2016. Perhaps even more impressive though, is that from April 19th on his ERA never fluctuated more than half a run (never dropped below 2.79, never raised above 3.28). This type of consistency and success set the tone for the rest of the pitching staff and helped others like Robbie Ray and Zack Godley realize their potential. Having an ace like this gives a team a certain level of confidence knowing that every fifth day you have a really good chance at a win.

The 200+ innings and 200+ K’s that Zack Greinke posted this year has only been done by three Diamondbacks before him; Dan Haren twice, Curt Schilling twice, and Randy Johnson five times! Ian Kennedy came close once and Brandon Webb came close a couple of times too. Azsnakepitters understand the value of this and having the ace of their team lead them all year long, seeing as Greinke received an 8.72 Snakepit Rating.

2018 Prospects

Zack will be entering his age-34 season in 2018 and you have to wonder when true regression will set in. I personally don’t think that he will show regression for another year or two because he has shown that he can have great success even with diminished velocity. However, Baseball Reference has him set to go 14-7 next year with a 3.56 ERA over 177 IP and 169 K’s. I think that this is a fair baseline for expectations for Zack at his age, but I think that he will be closer to his 2017 value. Either way, if he leads us to the playoffs once again, I will be one happy camper.