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The Arizona Diamondbacks at the end of spring training

Time for a third and final look at who shone and who sunk!

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The Arizona Diamondbacks ended spring training with a record of 15-15, discounting the three ties. If you’re looking for an omen, they had the same 15-15 record last season - there was one more game and one more tie this year. But behind those matching won-lost records, were some differences. Let’s look at those, and also the highlights and lowlights of the individual spring training stats.

Team pitching

  • 2017: 4.68 ERA, 280.2 IP, 305 H, 171 R, 146 ER, 31 HR, 89 BB, 275 SO, .276/.333.441 = .773 OPS, 1.40 WHIP
  • 2018: 5.52 ERA, 291.2 IP, 316 H, 192 R, 179 ER, 49 HR, 113 BB, 277 SO, .276/.345/.481 = .827 OPS, 1.47 WHIP

A sharp spike in ERA this season, 0.83 runs higher than last year. This is despite an opponent’s batting average allowed which is identical to 2017. The main factor powering the increase was a home-run rate more than half as much again, at 1.51 per nine innings, compared to less than one the previous spring. Walks were also up, from 2.85/9 IP to 3.49. However, in mitigation, Silvino Bracho and David Carpenter, who combined to allow a remarkable eight home-runs over their 9.1 innings of work (!), will not be on our Opening Day roster. K-rate was little changed (8.82 to 8.85), but K:BB ratio did drop by about twenty percent, declining from 3.09 to 2.45.

Team hitting

  • 2017: 278/.336/.456 = .792 OPS, 185 R, 35 HR, 95 BB, 239 K, 25:6 SB
  • 2018: .256/.341/.419 = .760 OPS, 168 R, 31 HR, 135 BB, 263 K, 22:8 SB

Given Arizona’s run differential went from +14 to -24, that .500 record feels a bit lucky this year. The runs scored per game dropped from 5.78 to 5.09, with a downturn in the number of home-runs hit partly responsible. While batting average was down 22 points, the D-backs did show impressive plate-discipline: those 135 walks was most in the Cactus League, 18 above the second-placed Giants. That helped push the on-base percentage five points above last year’s figure. Though about middle of the National League pack for the number of stolen-bases, only the Braves (25:5) were caught fewer times. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out during the regular season; the team seems to be emphasizing small ball.

Individual pitching (min: 8 IP)

The good

  • Zack Greinke: 8.1 IP, 1.04 ERA, 5 H, 6:0 K:BB
  • Fernando Salas: 11.0 IP, 1.64 ERA, 10 H, 8:2 K:BB
  • Zack Godley: 20.1 IP, 2.21 ERA, 9 H, 19:7 K:BB
  • T.J. McFarland: 10.0 IP, 2.70 ERA, 10 H, 7:3 K:BB

We may not have seen much of Greinke this season, but he was effective when he was there. Though actually, Arizona’s scheduled rotation started less than half our Cactus League Games (16 of 33) this spring. That’s a sharp contrast to last season, when it was 27 of 32. There seems to have been a conscious effort to have them pitch more on the backfields this year. Greinke in particular, seems to avoid spring games: he had only 10.2 innings last pre-season too. Godley also looked pretty good, and I’m cautiously optimistic he will be able to repeat the breakout success of 2017. As for McFarland, we’ll see if he can become the poor man’s Brad Ziegler his groundball rate last year suggests.

The bad

  • Robbie Ray: 13.1 IP, 6.75 ERA, 12 H, 15:10 K:BB
  • Albert Suarez: 12.1 IP, 6.57 ERA, 15 H, 10:5 K:BB
  • Kris Medlen: 15.1 IP, 5.28 ERA, 18 H, 12:7 K:BB
  • Patrick Corbin: 11.0 IP, 4.91 ERA, 13 H, 8:5 K:BB

While Ray’s K-rate was what we’d expect, the walks are a bit concerning, especially since five of them came over 2.1 innings in his last spring outing, back on March 20 against the Angels in Tempe. The ERA is blown up by five earned runs in less than one frame against the Dodgers: over his other four starts, his ERA was 3.55. You coul see why Suarez was not protected in the Rule 5 draft, but he is not without potential, and I’m happy the team was able to hold on to him. If we see Kris Medlen starting games for the Diamondbacks this year, things will have gone a bit pear-shaped, somewhere down the line. Slightly worried to see our Opening Day starter on this list, but we’ll see tomorrow how predictive the above is!

Individual hitting (min 35 PA)

The good

  • Rey Fuentes: .361/.439/.750/ = 1.189 OPS, 3 HR, 10 RBI
  • Ketel Marte: .452/.531/.571 = 1.102 OPS, 0 HR, 4 RBI
  • Jake Lamb: .293/.415/.683 = 1.098 OPS, 3 HR, 14 RBI
  • David Peralta: .390/.457/.561 = 1.017 OPS, 1 HR, 7 RBI

Ok. who had Fuentes as the spring hitting champion? Best OPS and tied for the league in home-runs? Didn’t see that coming. His hand looks like it will keep him out of action for a bit, but with Steven Souza out of action, it’s nice to have options. Marte is bound to cool off a bit, but his performance this spring has done nothing to dispel him as a trendy breakout pick for 2018. Good to see Lamb taking his walks - only Hazelbaker had more - and also to see Peralta back, and apparently fully healthy after a shaky campaign last season. With Souza out, both the Freight Train and Pollock will have to shoulder the offensive burden in the outfield a bit more.

The bad

  • Ildemaro Vargas: .171/.237/.200 = .437 OPS, 0 HR, 3 RBI
  • Ramon Flores: .121/.250/.242 = .492 OPS, 1 HR, 4 RBI
  • Chris Owings: .245/.327/.265 = .593 OPS, 0 HR, 0 RBI
  • Kevin Cron: .188/.222/.406 = .628 OPS, 2 HR, 6 RBI

Alex Avila just missed the cut-off by a single PA. His final line of .133/.235/.267, a .502 OPS, would have been bad enough for third on the list, although it wasn’t as horrendous as it looked like it would be at one point. Owings is the only man to qualify for this portion, who’ll be on the Opening Day roster. Impressed he managed to go 18 consecutive games and 49 at-bats without driving in a run. You’d think he’d have got one by accident... However, the team regular-season record is Tony Womack’s: in 2001, he went 25 consecutive games and 97 at-bats without an RBI. And Owings had a 23 game, 82 AB streak in 2013-14 - it’s especially impressive since he hit .293 during that time!