2017 has been a special year for both the Rockies and the Diamondbacks thus far, but now we get to go head-to-head for first place in the NL West (scummy Dodgers notwithstanding). Both teams are playing well, and they come into this matchup with the second and third best records in baseball respectively (again, scummy Dodgers notwithstanding – at the time of this writing). Both offenses are electric and the pitching staffs have been very good, so we should be in for quite the treat! Let’s see what we can expect.
A special series like this warrants a special preview. Therefore, I won’t be doing the typical spiel in regards to my weekly previews, but rather I will be looking at some of the amazing things that both teams have accomplished in 2017, while still looking at the coming series.
The 2016 version of the Arizona Diamondbacks struggled right out of the gate, and failed to live up to the lofty expectations that accompanied them throughout spring training. Because of this, the 2017 version of the Diamondbacks were not expected to do much. However, they are not only doing well, but they are one of the best teams in baseball and have tons of great stories to go with. The following are some interesting facts about the Dbacks right now:
- Their 44-26 record is the best start in franchise history through 70 games
- Their 26-9 record at home is the best in baseball
- They are 1 game out of first in the NL West
- They are 2 games back of the best record in baseball
- They lead all of baseball in ERA+ at 139 (second place is at 124)
- They are 3rd in the NL in runs per game
These are just some of the amazing facts about the Diamondbacks this year. What is perhaps even more impressive is the list of contributors in the early going. A prime example of this was Rey Fuentes hitting the go ahead and eventual game winning home run in Philadelphia to secure a sweep of the Phillies. But despite heroics and contributions from a myriad of players, and the tremendous start to the year, the Diamondbacks find themselves in second place in the division. And that is because the Rockies are also having one heck of a year.
What is remarkable about the Rockies this year, is that they are being successful with not just a good offense. They also have an above average pitching staff which is not something that they have been able to say too often in the franchise’s history. The Rockies not only lead the NL West, but they have also had the stories to go with the wins. Not least of which was one of the more exciting cycles you will ever see, that helped the Rockies win on Father’s Day. Nolan Arenado needed a home run to complete the cycle, and with two on and down by two in the bottom of the ninth, he connected. A three-run walk-off home run to complete the cycle. That is the kind of story that accompanies a special season, much in the same way 2001 was chalked full of memories for the Dbacks. Here are some interesting tid bits on the Rockies:
- The Rockies are off to their best start in franchise history
- They have the second best record in baseball
- Mark Reynolds is triple slashing .302/.384/.550 with 17 HR and 55 RBI.
- Charlie Blackmon leads baseball in Hits, Triples, and Total Bases
- Nolan Arenado leads baseball in Doubles
- They have a better than .600 winning percentage at both home and on the road
The Colorado Rockies can hit with the best of them, and then you throw Coors Field into the mix, and the score can look like a football game really fast. There are strong parallels between the two clubs because not many people expected either team to do anything when the season started, yet here they are. Battling it out for first place in the division in late June.
Game 1: Zack Greinke vs. German Marquez
Game 2: Taijuan Walker vs. Jeff Hoffman
Game 3: TBD vs. Antonio Senzatela
The Diamondbacks will have their ace to start the series, and Taijuan Walker will be tested in his second start coming back from the DL with a blister issue. The third game was originally slated to be Patrick Corbin’s, but it seems like management has opted to push his start back so that he can face the Phillies again. So perhaps a spot start from Delgado, or a bullpen game? For the Rockies, Sentzanela and Marquez both have ERA’s just over four, but in Coors Field that is good enough for ERA+’s of 124 and 121 respectively. For comparison’s sake, the same ERA for a Giant’s pitcher would be an ERA+ of 100 right now. Jeff Hoffman has only pitched in a few games so far this year, but he is doing very well.
It is no secret that the Dbacks and the Rockies both have tremendous offenses, but sometimes it still would surprise you to see just how good they are and can be. For example, the following are the top 5 leaders in RBI for all of baseball as of today:
- Jake Lamb - 59
- Paul Goldschmidt - 57
- Nolan Arenado - 55
- Mark Reynolds - 55
- Charlie Blackmon - 54
Yep, that right. All five spots belong to a Diamondbacks player or a Rockies player. In addition to the RBI’s Arenado and Blackmon lead all of baseball in extra base hits. While America’s First Baseman leads all of baseball in the following categories too:
- Bases on Balls
- Times on Base
Goldy is also on pace to set career bests in home runs, RBI’s, runs, hits, doubles, batting average, OBP, and OPS. If both the Rockies and the Dbacks make the postseason, it will be very interesting to see how the MVP race unfolds, because there are many deserving names right now, and that is just between these two teams.
I personally will give the offensive advantage to the Rockies this series, although the Dbacks aren’t too far behind. If we had a healthy and producing A.J. Pollock, I think that the gap would be almost negligible. The pitching advantage though is in the Dbacks favor for this series. I don’t see a sweep one way or the other, so the two wins will be a big victory for one team. I am not going to put a prediction on this one, and no poll either. Instead, I am going to enjoy an amazing series between two of the best teams in baseball. And you should too!