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Preview, #105: 7/27 @ Padres

One-run losses. Irritating, or the MOST irritating?

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

Jon Jay - LF Travis Jankowski - RF
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Carlos Asuaje - 2B
A.J. Pollock - CF Wil Myers - LF
Steven Souza - RF Eric Hosmer - 1B
Daniel Descalso - 3B Manuel Margot - CF
Ketel Marte - 2B Freddy Galvis - SS
Nick Ahmed - SS Christian Villanueva - 3B
Jeff Mathis - C Austin Hedges - C
Zack Greinke - RHP Luis Perdomo - RHP

Into San Diego the D-backs go, coming off a split of the four-game series in Chicago. I think, entering that series, we would all have been happy enough with that, but after we took the first two games, this feels like a disappointment. Especially so, the loss in the series finale, which saw Arizona blow a five-run lead, without even the decency to force extra innings. I more or less entirely skipped that one: figured it was for the best, in the interests of avoiding burn-out, since I’m on recap duty for all three games this series. Probably no better game to avoid, though it is worth noting that the four Diamondbacks’ losses in the second half have been by a total margin of... four runs.

That’s partly why I’m not especially concerned at this point. Arizona has outscored its opponents by 11 runs in the second half, a 40-29 margin. That would generally be good enough for a winning record, but because of that record in one-run games, the D-backs are 3-4 since the break. One-run record is generally seen as the product of luck. Cross them all out, wins or losses, and in their other games, Arizona are 42-30. They may only have the 12th-best record in the majors to this point, but in games decided by two runs or more, they are bumped up to fifth, and second in the National League behind only the Cubs (47-26 in those 2+ run games).

Of course, those one-run games aren’t coming back. But it does suggest the D-backs might be better than their record. As an alternative, over at Baseball Prospectus, we can look at first-, second- and third- order wins. First-order wins is based on the runs scored and allowed, and has the D-backs at +1.9 wins better than their current actual mark. Second-order wins replaces actual runs scored/allowed with a predicted number based on their underlying stats. That has Arizona at -0-3 games compared to reality. Third-order wins then adds in strength of opposition to that: the Diamondbacks sit +0.3 above their record. So, you choose your metric and you take your pick...