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Preview #67: 6/13 vs. Pirates

Which is better? Getting to say “I told you so” or “O RLY”?

Meghan Markle Moves To London As Her Engagement To Prince Harry Is Announced Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

PITTSBURGH PIRATES ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Josh Harrison - 2B Jon Jay - RF
Austin Meadows - LF Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Starling Marte - CF Jake Lamb - 3B
Colin Moran - 3B David Peralta - LF
Francisco Cervelli - C Ketel Marte - 2B
Josh Bell - 1B Jarrod Dyson - CF
Gregory Polanco - RF Nick Ahmed - SS
Jordy Mercer - SS Jeff Mathis - C
Jameson Taillon - RHP Zack Greinke - RHP

What a difference a couple of weeks make, particularly for the Arizona offense. On May 27, the team had just came off the road-trip from hell. completing a 16-game streak during which they had averaged fewer than two runs per game (a total of 31), and batted a collective .170/.233/.263 over 555 plate-appearances. All seemed lost, and pretty much no-one batted an eye when shoewizard wrote the following:

While I never expected it to be THIS bad, (who could ?), I could see early on that the offense was going to be an issue. Actually I believed that during the off season and am sure I said so... We squandered the good start, and the steep drop in this offense is systemic... This is never going to be a good offense. This is never going to be an offense capable of getting this team to a world series. Yeah yeah….”but April”. It was a fluke. Plain and simple. It was all about high leverage performance, both by the lineup and the bullpen.

I think shoe once said his mantra was “Sometimes right, sometimes wrong - but never in doubt,” and to (grudgingly!) be fair, he has been more right about more things than most of us. But that makes for all the more delicious schadenfreude when such a definitive pronouncement as the above... Is followed by close to the most productive 14-game span the offense has ever had. Over that time, the D-backs have scored 103 runs, a figure surpassed only twice in franchise history. From May 29-June 13, 1999, they scored 107 runs, and from June 6-22 last year, they scored 105. But in terms of sheer contrast to what went immediately before, the recent run has to be completely unparalleled.

shoewizard went on to double-down on pessimism: “I am pronouncing this offense DOA. I will be mildly surprised if they even average 3.80 Runs per game for the rest of the season, and absolutely gobsmacked if they averaged a NL average 4.26.” #ChallengeAccepted, in what appears to be the most unexpected comeback since Lazarus. Since then the D-backs have averaged not four, not five, not six and not even seven runs per game, but 7.36 runs per game. Their average for the whole season has zoomed up from 3.62, past both figures mentioned by shoe, and now sits at 4.41. The D-backs scored 77 runs in all May. They scored their 78th run for June in the fourth inning last night, June 12.

Now, obviously, this won’t last forever, any more than the cold streak will. As with most things, the truth likely sits in the middle. Overall. the team still currently ranks only 10th in the NL by wRC+, at 89, which suggests a lot of room for improvement. [Though I am inclined to look at park-adjusted metrics skeptically for now, until the effect of the humidor can accurately be taken into consideration] In particular, their batting average of .225 remains dead-last in the league, even after the recent surge. But with Souza and Pollock to return, my modest hopes the team might average 3.9 runs per game feels pessimistic. Of course, there’s one huge reason for the surge.

And Goldy…..well……bottom line, bat speed is slower. It just is. It’s observable. And it’s measurable. That bat speed isn’t coming back. The days of him hitting at an all star level for a full season, (i.e. 140 wRC+ or OPS+) are over. Of that I’m pretty much completely convinced.

Goldschmidt’s season wRC+ coming into today’s game? Even after the wretched month we saw, thanks to Paul’s similar resurrection, sits just four points short of the figure mentioned by shoe. Of course, if the baseball gods are consistent, I will be punished for writing this article by the D-backs getting blanked today, and I fully expect shoe to unleash his retaliatory snark. But I will seize my chances when I find them! :)