The most obvious contender and, I’d wager, likely winner of this category will be J.D. Martinez’s four-homer performance against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium on September 4th. Doing something never before executed by any Arizona Diamondbacks hitter, and by only 18 players in baseball history, will certainly give you an advantage. There’s good reason, after all, why the Sporting News once described the feat of a player homering four times in one contest as “baseball's greatest single-game accomplishment.” But even if this ends up as a near-unanimous landslide, we still need to have five nominees from which to pick.
Here are some suggestions of possible contenders, but I’m open to alternatives. Feel free to nominate any others in the comments.
Great though Martinez’s night was, it really didn’t “matter” much in the context of the game. While his first home-run broke a scoreless tie, his others came with the D-backs already up by three, six and eleven runs. The resulting WP of +27.1% was only the 33rd best by a D-backs hitter this year - it wasn’t even Martinez’s best [though it’s worth noting, for all his home-runs, J.D. didn’t have a single appearance in Arizona’s top 25 for WP by hitters this year] The leader there - and probably winner in this category until Sep 4 - was Paul Goldschmidt’s three-homer game in Chicago, on August 3rd. Two of those broke ties, including one in the ninth, and it was worth +74.5%.
Also worth a mention would be Chris Iannetta’s performance on September 22nd against the Marlins at Chase Field. He homered twice, a three-run shot in the first inning and a grand-slam in the sixth, as part of an eight RBI night. Both turned Diamondbacks’ deficits into leads (0-2 and 8-9 respectively) and was worth +61.5% in Win Probability. Jake Lamb’s slam game, already honored as Play of the Year, and where he drove in five of Arizona’s six runs, rounds out the top three of WP, at +57.2%. As well as Martinez and Goldschmidt, the other double-digit game for total bases was by A.J. Pollock on Sep 19, when he was 3-for-3 with two homers, a double and a walk.
Among our pitching performances, the leader may be almost as apparent as J.D’s is on the hitting side. Robbie Ray delivered the only complete-game shutout for Arizona this season, on May 30th against the Pirates. He blanked Pittsburgh on only four walks, walking none and striking out ten. But that may not have been Ray’s most dominant performance of the season. For the same night Martinez was going deep four times, his record-setting night overshadowed a game for the ages from Robbie. He threw 7.2 scoreless innings, with a K:BB of 14:0, becoming the first Arizona pitcher to strike out 14 batters in a game since Randy Johnson in August 2004.
There were other starters who did well. Zack Greinke also chewed up and spat out the Pirates, when he faced them on May 11. He held them to just a single hit, giving up one walk while fanning 11. Eleven days later, he came within one out of a complete-game against the White Sox, with a K:BB of 12:1. And on Sep 16, he held the Giants to two hits over eight shutout innings, with eight K’s and one walk. On the relief front, T.J. McFarland tossed three hitless innings and got the W after 14 frames on May 31. Randall Delgado also put up three zeroes on April 30, in the 11th-13th innings of a scoreless game against Colorado, before Daniel Descalso homered into the pool.
Speak up in the comments as to which of the above out to round out the field of nominees, or to put forward any other single-game performance not listed for consideration!