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Preview, #52: 5/27 @ A’s

Do the D-backs have a home-run problem?

Milwaukee Brewers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

David Peralta - LF Matt Joyce - DH
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Marcus Semien - SS
Jake Lamb - 3B Jed Lowrie - 2B
Daniel Descalso - DH Matt Olson - 1B
Ketel Marte - 2B Chad Pinder - LF
Socrates Brito - RF Matt Chapman - 3B
Nick Ahmed - SS Stephen Piscotty - RF
Jarrod Dyson - CF Dustin Fowler - CF
Jeff Mathis - C Jonathan Lucroy - C
Zack Greinke - RHP Frankie Montas - RHP

Yesterday, the D-backs lost 3-0 to the A’s, with all three Oakland runs coming on home-runs. While the overall pitching has obviously not been the issue during the current slump, these long-balls have been problematic of late. In the last 12 contests, the D-backs have allowed 24 home-runs in 101.1 innings of work. That’s an average of 2.14 per nine innings, and no team in the National League has allowed more homers so far in the month of May. Overall, Arizona sits behind only the woeful Reds and Marlins in home-runs allowed this season - and they still haven’t visited Coors Field so far. Yet despite all these balls turning into souvenirs, the Diamondbacks pitching staff has the best ERA, at 3.35.

The teams whose HR tallies are closest to Arizona’s all have higher ERAs - in some case, significantly higher. The Rockies, for example, have given up one fewer HR, yet their ERA is over a run more, at 4.40. Part of the reason is that when the D-backs give up the long-ball, they are more likely to be with no-one aboard. Across all of baseball, 59% of homers this season have been solo shots. For Arizona, that figure rises to 62%. Only four of the 58 allowed have come with two men on, and none of the 43 grand-slams hit in the majors this year have been off a Diamondback. Outside of HR, our ERA has also been suppressed in general by a very low BABIP, currently sitting at .265.

The latter may be sustainable. The 2016 Cubs went through the season with a BABIP of .257, and the Astros this year are slightly lower than Arizona, at .262. We’re a good defensive team in general, and there can be little doubt the humidor has played to the team’s strengths in this department. But even Jarrod Dyson can’t do much to catch a ball that goes off an opponent’s bat and deep into the outfield bleachers. Zack Greinke’s ten home-runs allowed currently leads the team, and that rate is the highest for him since Zack’s rookie campaign in 2004. Seven have been on the road, a major factor in his 6.94 ERA away from Chase. We’ll need that to improve, if Arizona is to take its first series in what seems like forever.