After a decent enough start, the Diamondbacks have lost their last four games in a row, and their overall Cactus League record has dropped to 3-7. The sample sizes so far are feeble. No player has had any more than 27 plate-appearances (Kevin Cron) and no pitcher thrown even five innings, Zack Godley (who announced today, he’s going to be the father of a baby girl soon!) leading the way with 4.2 IP. Any attempts to analyze performance at that level in the regular season would be laughed off the SnakePit, and rightfully so. But will that stop us here. Hell, no! Just be aware, what players look like - in the cages as much as on the field - is more important in deciding their fate than their slash lines.
After ten games, the D-backs rank about middle of the pack, having scored 50 runs. Their average is low, at .240, but as we’ll see in a bit, they have had good plate discipline, and that helps boost their OPS to .744, which is 18th in the majors. [Fun fact: leading the way are the Giants, averaging 8.2 runs per game, with a .968 OPS and 23 HR through 10 contests. They didn’t hit more than 26 HR in any month of the regular season last year!] One thing the D-backs have been doing well is stealing bases: they are 7-of-8 in that department. Now, what about the individuals?
The good (min 9 PA)
- Paul Goldschmidt: 4-for-7, HR, two BB, 1.667 OPS
- David Peralta: 5-for-9, 2B, BB, 1.267 OPS
- Yasmany Tomas: 6-for-12, two 2B, two BB, 1.238 OPS
- Cesar Puello: 8-for-18, four 2B, BB, 1.167 OPS
Goldschmidt topping our hitters? My unsurprised face is in the best spring shape of its life. Good to see Peralta hitting well, and hopefully he can return to the form we saw of him in 2015. But the last two names are not ones I expected to find in this category. Much discussion coming into spring about Tomas being a man without an apparent roster spot this year. But you wouldn’t know it, based on the early results: he has been hitting as if his future depended on it. Which it probably does. Puello leads the team in hits, and the outfielder already has more than in the entire 2017 MLB season, when he played 17 games for the Dodgers and Rays. Good to see both men making the outfield decision harder.
The bad (min 9 PA)
- Jack Reinheimer: 1-for-18, two BB, ,246 OPS
- Daniel Descalso: 1-for-9, BB, .311 OPS
- Rudy Flores: 2-for-17, 2B, BB, .334 OPS
- Ildemaro Vargas: 3-for-17, three BB, .476 OPS
Reinheimer so far, isn’t exactly pushing the middle-infield envelope, even allowing for his reputation as a defense-first shortstop. The same goes for Vargas, though it is worth noting that both have been taking their walks. That’s been true of the D-backs in general, whose 40 bases on balls ranks them third in the NL thus far. Descalso is gonna Descalso, I imagine, and his roster spot as a Swiss Army knife (doing a lot of things, without being great at any of them) is likely safe, almost regardless of what he does in spring. This will be Rudy Flores’s seventh season in Arizona’s minor-league system, and the early indication this spring is that Triple-A may be the ceiling for the 27-year-old.
There’s no way to sugar-coat it: the D-backs’ staff has, overall, sucked so far. The team’s ERA is 8.35: only the A’s (7.83) are within two runs of that figure. The 129 hits allowed are the most in the majors... by a margin of twenty-eight. Opponents are batting .339 against Arizona, who have a WHIP of 1.90. The 21 home-runs allowed are 40% more than anyone else to this date. Overall opponents’ OPS against us? .999. Positives from these figures are hard to find, though the K:BB ratio hasn’t been too bad, at 80:39, and there is a fair point to be made, that the pitchers who have been getting lit-up are mostly not ones likely to toe the rubber at Chase this year, except in the eventuality of a Rule 29 draft.
The good (min 1.1 IP)
- Zack Godley: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 4:3 K:BB
- Fernando Salas: 3 IP, 1 H, 1:0 K:BB
- T.J. McFarland: 3 IP, 3 H, 1:0 K:BB
- Gabe Speier: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1:0 K:BB
These pitchers have all yet to allow an earned run this spring - also hitting the minimum innings with a zero ERA are Braden Shipley and Josh Taylor. The latter has a 3:0 K:BB, which is not bad. Silvino Bracho is 5:1 in that category, and has only allowed one hit over his three innings, though that did leave the park. That may be moving him up the bullpen depth chart a bit, although he has his work cut out to claim an Opening Day spot. Of the men listed above, Godley looked pretty good in his second start, getting plenty of movement on his pitches. Though as that’s the only spring game I’ve had a chance to watch so far, it’s kinda hard to tell.
The bad (min 1.1 IP)
- David Carpenter: 1.1 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 4 HR(!), 0:0 BB:K, 47.25 ERA
- Bradin Hagens: 1.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2:2 BB:K, 33.75 ERA
- Jake Buchanan: 2 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 1:2 BB:K, 31.50 ERA
- Robbie Ray: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 3:3 BB:K, 16.67 ERA
Not-so-fun fact. Fourteen different Diamondbacks’ pitchers currently have spring ERAs in double-digits. As mentioned above, most of those are players whose names would not be familiar to the casual fan. But they do also include Archie Bradley (2.1 IP, 15.43 ERA) and Jorge De La Rosa (1.2 IP, 10.80 ERA), as well as Ray. His outing this afternoon was especially disappointing as he more or less owned the Dodgers in the regular season last year, going 3-0 in five starts, with a 2.27 ERA and 53 K’s in 32.1 innings. Of course, if there’s a good time to give up meaningless runs... spring would be it. So let’s hope it’s a case of everyone getting it all out of their systems now!