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SnakePit Round Table, Week 13: Hey now, you’re an All-Star...

The loss of Nick Ahmed, our first half awards and what Independence Day means are also discussed.

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Let’s hand out some first-half awards.


Jay: Not only is Paul Goldschmidt the Diamondbacks MVP, he should be the MVP of the entire league. He is putting up some eye-popping numbers. He is the MLB leader in RBI’s and Runs. He is Top 5 in batting average and OPS. He leads the NL in OBP. He is top ten in both Home Runs and Stolen Bases! In fact, before this mini-slump these last few games the rankings were even better. Now, having written all that, there are many players who would be MVP on other teams. Jake Lamb has offered Goldy protection against right handed pitching. David Peralta has been setting the table. Even Chris Owings can be credited for helping Goldy lead MLB in runs. But Goldy is having a career year in an already amazing career for the 8th round draft pick.

Makakilo: What Jay said! I will add that Goldy is the widely cited reason for the D-backs window of contention.

Keegan: For the sake of differing from all the opinions to come, my MVP for this season is Archie “The Destroyer” Bradley. Paul Goldschmidt will always be the MVP of this team just as he has been this season, but the caliber of player that Bradley has been all season is flat out impressive. Already worth 1.1 WAR as a reliever, 2.67 xFIP, and a 27 ERA-. Unbelievable performance and humility stepping down as a starter and moving into the bullpen. He is an enormous part of this team’s success and epitomizes the team first mentality.

Steven: It’s Goldy.

Steven # 2 (A.K.A. Steven M. Taylor A.K.A thunderpumpkin87): What Steven # 1 said.

Michael: Paul Goldschmidt, who should also be the National League MVP. If you’re thinking someone else, you’re doing it wrong.

Least Valuable Player

Jay: This is actually a difficult question. I believe every single player on this roster has had enough good moments to deserve some praise. I have to choose Yasmany Tomas. But that choice gives me pause because I remember him having some big HRs and doubles earlier in the season that helped the team win. The same can be said about Patrick Corbin. He had a horrible month and a half stretch, but he actually led starters in ERA during April and has improved his play the last few starts. But it is Tomas continuing to be a major liability in left field and he was slumping big-time before his injury. The team is 17-8 during his time on the DL. To be fair, they are 18 games over .500 since the injury to AJ Pollock, but he is most certainly valuable and will be missed.

Makakilo: It’s a team effort – there is no least valuable player except for one who does not play. With that view, the first player I thought of was Shelby Miller – because he will not play again this season. Although three times in the preseason I wrote about trading Yasmany Tomas, it was generally agreed that it would be hard to get fair value.

Keegan: My response is similar to Mak’s logic with Shelby Miller. My least valuable player would have to be (grab your brown paper bag) A.J. Pollock. You are not providing any value hitting home runs down in Reno on a minor league rehab assignment, bro. Get healthy and stay on the field. We absolutely need you for a deep postseason run. I could have just as easily gone with Yasmany Tomas or Patrick Corbin. Tomas fails to get into baseball shape. Corbin would likely be much better suited in a bullpen role. His struggles are frustrating because when his slider is working he is one of the best in the business.

Steven: I really think A.J Pollock is our LVP. We expected him to bounce back after losing all of last year to injury but we’re now seeing how fragile he is. I didn’t agree earlier in the year with the injury-prone label, but it’s becoming apparent 2015 was a mirage, not the norm.

Steven # 2: It’s a tough call mostly because I don’t like to label someone on the team I love as “Least Valuable”. But since I have to choose, I think that it has to be Yasmany Tomas. He showed improvement from year 1 to year 2, but year 3 showed regression. He just can’t get into a decent playing shape, and I would have thought that after 2+ years in the majors, his defense would have improved at least a little bit, but no such luck. This all might be acceptable if he weren’t making more than Goldy, but that is why I say he is the least “valuable”, since his value is negative AND expensive.

Michael: Tough question because pretty much everyone on the Dbacks has given the team positive contributions. I guess we can hate on AJ Pollock for being fragile (pronounced Fra-Gee-Lay).

Biggest Surprise

Jay: This is an easy one, Archie Bradley. He has embraced the bullpen role, throwing harder and more consistently than I ever dreamed possible out of him. He holds leads and he can pitch multiple innings, though it seems he has settled in the 8th inning role. His ERA and WHIP ratios are tiny at 1.23 and 0.09 respectively. There is an energy in the crowd when he runs out onto the field. It’s nice to see him finally showing he belongs in the big leagues.

Makakilo: In the preseason, I thought the D-backs would suffer from the loss of Brad Zeigler and Tyler Clippard. I predicted the bullpen would be average for an MLB team. Instead the bullpen has been above average. The list of bullpen pitchers who have excelled is long. Instead of naming them, I will point out that Archie Bradley is much more valuable in the bullpen than the rotation.

Keegan: Randall Delgado gets the nod from me. He has hardly ever had success in Arizona as a Major League starter. Most of us showed reservation when it was announced that his first start this season would be a bullpen game. He quickly demonstrated that he could go just as long as the starters and do so efficiently. My concern with him is that he is quickly approaching the 75 innings he has averaged over the last 3 seasons. We can’t really afford to lose the quality of his arm over the 2nd half.

Steven: The biggest surprise has been the starting rotation, namely Zack Godley and Randall Delgado. Each come from different backgrounds and experience, but both stepped up when the team needed them and outperformed the incumbent starters.

Steven # 2: For me it is a tie between Zack Godley and Archie Bradley. Godley has made adjustments and improvements to his game to become a legitimate starter, and it doesn’t look like it is a fluke. I don’t expect him to always have an ERA under 3.00, but it appears that he can be an above average to good starter for the foreseeable future. And Bradley has taken the move to the bullpen with no complaints, and has thrived. His fastball is touching upper 90’s consistently with a lot of movement, and his curveball is feeding off of that. I always thought he was going to do well, but i definitely did not expect him to be this amazing out of the ‘pen.

Michael: I’d probably go with Zack Godley coming out of nowhere and pitching like a #2 starter. Godley wasn’t even in the rotation consideration in Spring Training is the amazing part, but injuries led to an opportunity and he’s taken it and sprinted with it towards the Dbacks dugout. The improvement of his curveball from a 3rd pitch to a primary secondary pitch and the pitch he uses to get weak or no contact.

Unsung Hero

Jay: This team is loaded with unsung heroes, which is one of the reasons they are so much fun to watch play. Descalso and Hermann are contenders as they have come up with huge hits including two walk-offs each. I don’t believe I am writing this considering I have cringed the last couple of years every time Randall Delgado enters a ballgame. But he is my unsung hero. Randall has been huge both in the rotation and out of the bullpen for this team. After the injuries to Taijuan Walker and Shelby Miller, he came in and pitched admirably in the rotation. He can still give you 3 strong innings when a starter is ineffective or if the game goes into extra innings. He is the Josh Collmenter of 2017 and he is thriving in the role. By the way, I wanted to say Zack Godley, but I don’t even consider him “unsung” anymore.

Makakilo: Zack Godley is the unsung hero. So far, he is the D-backs third best pitcher, behind Greinke and Ray. The SnakePit weekly voting has him at 11 points – well below all the other starting pitchers. Possibly because he was not in the rotation at the start of the season, he is seen as second tier. And yet his results show he has earned a spot in the rotation.

Keegan: Zack Godley is my pick for unsung hero simply because I’m not really surprised with what he has accomplished this year. I felt that he always had this in him ever since his debut in 2015. However, I never anticipated that he would be this spectacular. If he can continue to keep the ball on the ground, he can avoid the longball that has plagued most of the MLB this season. Now if only he wouldn’t untag himself from my Instagram memes…

Steven: I think Chris Owings is the real unsung hero. Filling in wherever needed and still producing at an above average rate. He needs to be our starting shortstop the rest of the year

Steven # 2: As much as I never thought I would find myself saying this, I think that Randall Delgado is our unsung hero so far. He has five games started, five games finished, and another handful of appearances out of the bullpen many of which were multiple innings. He has a 3.28 ERA over 57.2 innings, and has quietly helped out this team wherever he has been needed.

Michael: Zack Godley, same reasons as above.

Here are some season projections, based on stats through 81 games. Which are most and least likely to happen?

Paul Goldschmidt, 38 HR + Jake Lamb, 130 RBI

Jay: I love Jake Lamb’s game this year protecting Goldy and cashing in when the other team pitches around him. But 130 RBI’s is a tall task for a player that seemed to tire during the second half last season. I hope I am wrong.

Keegan: I feel that both players will fall just shy of these numbers. That’s not to say that they are going to have a disappointing second half. I do believe Lamb will finish above 100 RBI and Goldy will finish above 30 HR. Still about as good of a 3-4 combo as it gets.

Steven: Goldy gets over while Lamb just misses the mark. Lamb’s RBI pace is outrageous, Goldy’s HRs are expected.

Steven # 2: I think that both are possible and fairly likely. If I had to choose, I would say Lamb reaching 130 RBI’s is more likely because as Goldy keeps killing it, they will walk him, and Lamb will continue to hit with a lot of runners on base.

Michael: I don’t see either happening, but if I had to say which is least likely, I’ll go with the 130 RBI total because no Dbacks has driven in that many runs since the Steroid Era.

Robbie Ray, 16 wins

Makakilo: Least likely for three reasons: 1) He is experiencing a slump: his last three games had game scores under his average, which is 60. 2) Looking at his win decisions, only one was against a tough opponent (Dodgers on 22 April). 3) Regression to the mean – other teams will make adjustments.

Keegan: Probably the least likely. Stop me if you’ve heard me say this before. The second half of the schedule will be brutal. He’ll most likely finish somewhere around 14 wins. Ray will need to right the ship from his recent struggles to even have a shot at that.

Steven: I’ll take the under as well. Regression will hit him hard.

Jay: I think exactly 16 wins sounds just about right. I’m just hoping he gets hot again in September.

Steven # 2: I think he will have 16-18 wins this year. Partly because he has been a good pitcher, but moreso because Arizona’s offense will continue to keep him in line for some wins. He has struggled a little bit lately, but I think that he will be a little up and down the rest of the year as he continues to learn what is making him successful and making adjustments as hitters make adjustments to him.

Michael: Tough to project, but it’s more likely than Goldy blasting out 38 HR and Lamb driving in 130. It depends on run support and how he’s pitching. I’d give it 35% odds of happening.

Fernando Rodney, 40 saves

Jay: I think he will do it and if he does the Diamondbacks will be in the playoffs. Furthermore, they will have a chance to make a run because Archie Bradley will be able to keep his role and become our Andrew Miller.

Makakilo: Most likely for 3 reasons: 1) This season, he keeps getting better every month (ERA, hits/inning, walks per inning). 2) June was extraordinary: no hits allowed in 9 innings pitched, 7 saves & no blown saves, one win. 3) He shines as a ninth inning guy – as long as he is kept in that role, I do not expect him to regress in the second half of the season.

Keegan: Ironically enough I see this as the most likely. Rodney has settled in nicely and has become a pretty dominant closer the past two months. There should be plenty of close games coming our way, and the likelihood of him being placed in a save situation will be due to forces beyond his control. I’m going to say 43 saves for him this season.

Steven: I’m still waiting for him to implode but he hasn’t yet so I’ll actually go with the over.

Steven # 2: I will take the under here. Not because I don’t think Rodney can do it; he has proven that he can. But I just wonder if we will have that many more opportunities. If he has 21 saves in 52 team wins, then it seems to me like some of our wins are either coming from behind late, or far enough ahead that there is no save opp. I think he will get in the high 30’s.

Michael: I think this will be close overall, but I’ll say this is very likely if the team keeps winning.

Are you worried by Ray’s recent struggles?

Jay: A little bit. His last few starts he has been struggling with walks and pitch count like the Robbie Ray we used to know. However, I believe that is now his floor, with his ceiling being what we saw during him dominant stretch.

Makakilo: Concerned, yes. Worried, no.

Keegan: Not quite yet. I’d much rather prefer a happy medium from the results we have seen this season. Greinke and Ray were on a Johnson-Schilling pace there it seemed for a brief period. I’ll be concerned when he demonstrates a complete inability to make outs. As long as he continues to progress with his curveball, he will be just fine.

Steven: Like others have mentioned, unless he fixes some of the control issues, we should expect this from him. He’s still a young pitcher with room to grow. but expect these growing pains.

Steven # 2: No, not at all. His stretch earlier was just a glimpse of how dominant he could be. In just his age-25 season, I didn’t expect that to last all season. Yet, I do think that he will get another stretch where he is utterly dominant again, but I expect him to slowly harness this incredible ability over the next couple of years. Even with his recent “struggles” his ERA went from 2.62 to just over 3.00, and he is still striking out batters at an absurd rate... I think that he will be just fine.

Michael: Pitchers go through rough spots at times and we forget Ray is only 25 despite being named an All-Star this year. Even on days where his command isn’t great, he can dial up strikeouts pretty easily. I think the All-Star break will help him hit the reset button a bit.

How much will the loss of Nick Ahmed affect the team? How should they handle it?

Jay: I think the Diamondbacks will be fine. They have the depth to deal with it. In fact, when Pollock and Tomas come back, Chris Owings would end up playing SS a lot more anyway. We need Owings’ bat in the lineup. We even have a suitable replacement in Marte, so I won’t be too concerned for now. But an injury to Owings or an extended slump by Brandon Drury could change my prognosis.

Makakilo: The loss of Ahmed is huge. I hope he is back by September. Because of the injury, Ketel Marte was promoted.

The day Ketel Marte’s promotion was announced, I compared his numbers in 2015 (57 games) & 2016(119 games) in the Majors to current players in 2017. His contact % was fantastic!

Contact %

This is (fouls+inplay strikes)/(fouls+inplay strikes+ swinging strikes).

  • 2015 Ketel Marte 80.6%
  • 2016 Ketel Marte 81.5%
  • 2017
    Goldy 76.7%
    Lamb 75.9 %
    Peralta 78.8%
    Drury 77.7%
    Ianetta 69.9%
    Hazelbaker 65.9%
Clutch hitting situations:

With less than 2 outs, runner at 3rd and runner at 2nd. What is the % of time that the runner scores?

  • Age 22 Ketel Marte 3rd was 54%, 2nd was 44%
  • Age 23 Goldy 3rd was 36%, 2nd was 33%
  • Age 23 Lamb 3rd was 40%, 2nd was 33%

Summary: Ketel Marte will become one of the top hitters on the team for two reasons. Ketel Marte’s 2016 contact% is better than every 2017 Diamondback hitter. Ketel Marte’s age 22 season (2016) shows his clutch hitting was better than both Goldy and Lamb in their age 23 seasons.

Addendum: Ketel Marte is ready to play! In Sunday’s game against the Rockies, I saw Ketel Marte make a spectacular defensive play with a wide-ranging stop, a spin, and an accurate throw to first to get the out. In the ninth inning, with two strikes, he hit the ball past an outfielder for the walkoff win!

Keegan: The loss of Nick Ahmed undoubtedly hurts the team, but it is not the end of the world. If anything, it could change Mike Hazen’s strategy going into the trade deadline. Some of the potential trade targets that have been floated are intriguing. Ahmed was perfect as a defensive replacement late in the game or as a pinch hitter against left handers. Nick Piecoro suggested Zack Cozart earlier as a trade target, and he would be a cost effective rental before he hits free agency at the end of this season.

Steven: I really don't think his loss is that big a deal. He’s been a disaster at the plate and performed less than expected ar SS. It really just solidifies Owings place at SS, which with his offense helps the team more than Ahmed could.

Steven # 2: I’m not too sure. I think that a mixture of Owings and Marte can contribute plenty to the shortstop position for the team to not miss Ahmed too much. Plus I read on today that the Dbacks may be looking to add a shortstop before the deadline and some of the names they mentioned were rather interesting. I don’t know how real they are, because I don’t think that we have enough minor league depth to acquire much. But either way, I trust whatever decisions this management will make.

Michael: It depends on if the Diamondbacks acquire a shortstop at the deadline, but they’ll miss Ahmed’s glove more than his bat. In terms of bat, Marte is at worst a little bit better than Ahmed and is better against RHP overall. Dbacks are linked to Zack Cozart (because you can never have enough Zacks), although I don’t see them pulling this deal off because it relegates Owings to a bench role and has a chance to really screw up chemistry.

Robot umpires for ball/strike calls. Yes or no?

Jay: Why not robot players too? Taking the human element out of the game would make it so much more predictable and BORING to see. Seriously though, getting mad at bad calls is kind of part of the fun. Instant replay has been a positive change, but I miss the manager arguments with umpires. Only Craig Counsell doesn’t care and argues anyway. Good for him.

Keegan: Abso-fricking-lutely! I am tired of screaming at the TV in disgust. Tennis uses robots for calls on the line (my apologies for the lack of technical terms as I don’t watch much tennis). It’s getting ridiculous, and the visualization D’backsUmp has provided makes it all the worse. Guess what happens if I repeatedly make the same mistake at my job? I get fired.

Steven: Why stop there? Why not go full robot takeover like Super Baseball 2020.

Steven # 2: Oooh. I don’t know. I just watched the Matrix the other day and that sounds like step one. On the other hand, I really hate seeing how bad some of these calls have been lately. New idea: how about an electric dog collar that buzzes the umpire whenever an especially egregious call is made?

Michael: Up and down isn’t something you need a machine to call because umpires are pretty good with those. It’s the wide or tight edges that bother me more.

How do you feel about the D-backs All-Star representation?

Jay: It was the best case scenario for me. Goldschmidt and maybe Greinke were obvious choices. They are the best play in a top 5 team. I was concerned Ray and Lamb would get looked over, but obviously people are taking notice of the Diamondbacks which makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Except I know, the media bias against us will continue all the way up to the World Series. Must make it happen on the field. As a side note, Archie Bradley deserves to be an all-star, but his time will come.

Makakilo: On the happy side, four D-backs were chosen. With 32 slots divided between 15 NL teams, two players would have been average. On the curious side, none of the D-backs’ relievers were chosen. Archie Bradley would have been a great choice! Maybe next year.

Keegan: I am pretty thrilled. What excites me the most was the selection of Jake Lamb. I didn't think he had a chance with how deep the position was. That might spark a fire in him for a strong second half finish. Gotta feel for Archie Bradley because the kid absolutely deserves to be there. I'm not buy the “Well, he's not a starting pitcher or closer” argument. He is the Senior Circuit’s version of Andrew Miller for this season at least. Other than that, the amount of D’backs selected speaks to this magical season. I love watching our players take the field against the best in the game.

Steven # 2: I feel pretty good. I think that they were represented appropriately for how well they have been playing. All of the players that have been selected are well deserving, and the ones that didn’t make it were either on the fringe, or had no real shot because of their position (hello Archie).

Michael: No big time snubs this year, although I was surprised Lamb made it in over Rendon and Bryant. Not surprised we had a vote in DC for the wrong choice at 1B, we seem to have that issue with Congressmen, Senators, and Presidents these days, but I digress. Greinke, Ray, and Goldy were shoo-ins easily, with Greinke and Goldy probably getting voted in by the players. Interestingly enough, I do think Bradley has a nonzero chance of being added to the roster since Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday against the Dbacks then on Sunday.

What does Independence Day mean to you?

Makakilo: Celebration with fireworks! Freedom and independence are rare in this world. I appreciate the constitution and bill of rights. Support for our military is an indirect way to preserve my freedoms against other countries. Visibly exercising my freedoms is a direct way to preserve my freedoms. I exercise my freedom of expression by writing my ideas on the SnakePit. I exercise my freedom to choose how to live in pursuit of happiness by living in Hawaii. I exercise my freedom of religion by membership in a church and bible study. Those three freedoms are restricted in many countries. I am truly blessed with freedoms and independence.

Keegan: It is my favorite holiday of the year. I even put it above Christmas. All of the summer holidays are my favorite and the 4th is the pinnacle for me. It’s so much more than grilling, drinking beer, and watching baseball. It’s about being able to celebrate the freedom to do so. It’s a shame that Arizona is such a fire hazard because the fireworks shows here are somewhat lame compared to videos I have seen elsewhere.

Steven: It’s a time to reflect on what makes this country great, eat good food and spend time with family and friends. Also big shoutout to the troops.

Jay: It is like most American holidays for me. I eat too much and regret it later. I am looking forward to the peaceful satisfaction of sitting with my wife and family looking up at the fireworks lighting up the night sky. The sense of pride in it all is a much needed moment of serenity. Hard for me to imagine how much spirit and guts it took to make the step to independence. That spirit lives on in our culture and is a beautiful thing. Furthermore, it has been said that baseball was designed for the American consumer who didn’t have the patience for cricket. Freeing ourselves off the British crown was most certainly a good idea.

Steven # 2: To me, Independence Day is a time for us to be grateful that we have been born into or moved to a place where we have the freedom of choice. There are a lot of countries out there where the quality of life is awful, and this should be a time where we remember how fortunate we are.

Michael: Independence Day is a reminder of what sacrifices were made to make The United States of America the great country it is. Not only did our founders greatly risk their lives, honor, and fortunes against the greatest empire in human history, they did for the idea that man has inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the ability to pursue our dreams as we see fit. Not only did they fight for those beliefs, they won and 241 years later we have the freedom to enjoy baseball games. I still believe America is the greatest civilization in the history of mankind because of our freedoms.

Player of the Week

We didn’t have a round table last week, but we did still have a player of the week poll. Paul Goldschmidt was an easy winner, getting 72% of the votes last week, and that was just enough to give him top spot, taking over from Robbie Ray. Here’s all the standings, through week 12.

  1. Paul Goldschmidt: 208%
  2. Robbie Ray: 205%
  3. Zack Greinke: 121%
  4. Jake Lamb: 121%
  5. Fernando Rodney: 75%
  6. Archie Bradley: 65%
  7. Patrick Corbin: 57%
  8. Brandon Drury: 52%
  9. David Peralta: 51%
  10. Chris Iannetta, 34%
  11. Nick Ahmed: 30%
  12. A.J. Pollock: 30%
  13. Randall Delgado: 29%
  14. Taijuan Walker, 26%
  15. Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
  16. T.J. McFarland: 19%
  17. Chris Herrmann, 16%
  18. Zack Godley, 11%
  19. Chris Owings, 9%
  20. J.J. Hoover: 7%
  21. Yasmany Tomas: 7%

The D-backs were 3-3, winning the series against the Rockies, after losing the one to the Cardinals. There’s likely not much doubt about who was the top hitter, but the water is a good deal more murky on the pitching side. Here’s the poll [sorry, AMP users!] All stats cover the period June 26-July 2.


Who was the Player of the Week, June 26- July 2?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Andrew Chafin: 3 G, 2 H, 4:0 K:BB, 0.00 ERA
    (2 votes)
  • 6%
    Daniel Descalso: 4-for-13, 5 BB, HR, 1.038 OPS
    (5 votes)
  • 14%
    Zack Greinke: 7 IP, 3 H, 8:0 K:BB, 2.57 ERA
    (12 votes)
  • 65%
    Chris Owings: 7-for-21, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 1.381 OPS
    (54 votes)
  • 10%
    Taijuan Walker: 13.1 IP. 12 H, 8:6 K:BB, 2.70 ERA
    (9 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now