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Those who kill the D-backs, and the D-backs who kill

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It cuts both ways. Some players do strikingly well against us. But some of our players do the same against our opponents.

Rio De Janeiro’s Favelas Under Scrutiny After Brazil Wins Olympic Bid Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Despite frequent claims to the contrary, I’m not sure there’s necessarily any real thing as a “Diamondbacks killer.” Sure, some players seem to hit better against the D-backs than in general. But given that batting average doesn’t stabilize until over 900 at-bats, the noise of random fluctuation is likely drowning out any signal. No player has ever reached that threshold for AB against the D-backs. Leading the pack is Todd Helton, who had an OPS of .960 over 797 at-bats - almost exactly the same as his career average OPS of .953. Behind him, the next are Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp; they are not even at 700 AB vs. Arizona, so everyone is still in the zone of small sample size.

However, it’s still fun to look at the numbers and highlight the players on both sides of the coin. Because, for every player where we cringe when they step to the plate at Chase Field, there’s someone on the D-backs who has the same impact on fans of our opponents. You will not be surprised to hear that the most frequent latter culprit on the current roster is brought to you by the letters P and G. But that isn’t always the case. I suppose we should look at players who have the biggest gap between their career OPS and their OPS vs. Arizona, but life’s too short. Instead, we’ll specify a killer (opposing player) and assassin (D-back) who have done most damage, both all-time and among current team members.

However, we will define varying cutoff points, simply because we see the NL West about three times as often as the East or Central, and the American League teams less often still. So, here are the lines:

NL West: 150 PA

Dodgers

  • All-time killer: Yasmani Grandal, .985 (.302/410/.576)
  • Active: Grandal
  • All-time assassin: Orlando Hudson, .953 (.331/.411/.541)
  • Active: Paul Goldschmidt, .930 (.300/.376/.554)

Bit of a surprise to see which D-back leads the list. O-Dawg is our best hitter ever against the Dodgers? It helps that he walked almost as many times (22) as he struck out (23). But the way Goldy has been hitting of late, no surprise if he surpasses Hudson over the seven remaining games versus LA. His 30 HR are the most by a D-back against any opponent. A (dis)honorable mention to Manny Ramirez, who did not quite reach the PA needed to qualify with LA. But his career figures are the highest of all time by anyone with 150 PA vs. Arizona, with a line of .411/.522/.782, for an OPS of 1.305 over 37 games, Of course, an F-sized asterisk deserves to go beside those numbers. And speaking of asterisks...

Giants

  • All-time killer: Barry Bonds, 1.192 (.315/.499/.693)
  • Active: Pablo Sandoval, .881 (.323/.378/.503)
  • All-time assassin: Jake Lamb, .943 (.281/.391/.551)
  • Active: Lamb

That’s an amazing OBP for Bonds, who had more walks than hits against Arizona (141 to 123). And it was over 537 PA and 123 games as well. He also had more intentional walks (52) than strikeouts, the most famous being the one with the bases loaded. Sandoval’s return this year knocks perhaps the more “known” killer, Hunter Pence (.860) from his top spot. Again, bit of a surprise to see Goldy (or “His Master’s Voice”, as Timmeh calls him) anywhere but top, especially among the current team. His OPS is by no means bad, at .913, but Paul’s overall batting average against the Giants comes in at a relatively pedestrian .287.

Padres

  • All-time killer: Wil Myers, .969 (.316/.401/.568)
  • Active: Myers
  • All-time assassin: Steve Finley, 1.018 (.342/.405/.612)
  • Active: Goldschmidt, .988 (.315/.433/.556)

A bit surprised to see Myers come out on top, ahead of perhaps more renowned Padres like Ryan Klesko (.918) and Adrian Gonzalez (.910). Though it goes to prove the youth movement in San Diego that Cory Spangenberg is the only current Padre who reaches the 150 PA cut-off. Below that, Hunter Renfroe (.913 over 108 PA) is the most threatening of the n00bs. Again, Goldy comes in as good - and the best of the current bunch - but falls short of the all-time mark, which belong to another surprising name, Gold Glove center fielder, Steve Finley. Admittedly, he didn’t have to deal with the hitter’s graveyard which was Petco, up until a couple of years ago.

Rockies

  • All-time killer: Larry Walker, 1.033 (.357/.446/.587)
  • Active: Trevor Story, .970 (.291/.352/.618)
  • All-time assassin: Chad Tracy, .999 (.349/.405/.594)
  • Active: Goldschmidt, .995 (.315/.422/.572)

Story certainly hit the ground running. Over his first five games against the D-backs, at the beginning of 2016, he went 8-for-23 with five home-runs and 12 RBI. After a spell where it seemed we had tames him, he now has a nine-game hitting streak versus the Diamondbacks, and has gone 15-for-33 with three home-runs over that time. And once more, Goldschmidt has done very well against our NL West rival... yet is not quite the best. That honor belongs to the multi-faceted Tracy, who edges Goldy by a mere four points of OPS. Again, with six games left against Colorado, this might have changed by the end of 2018.

NL Central and East: 50 PA

Braves

  • All-time killer: Freddie Freeman, 1.118 (.363/.428/.690)
  • Active: Freeman
  • All-time assassin: Junior Spivey, 1.441 (.492/.568/.873)
  • Active: Goldschmidt, .875 (.284/.404/.471)

Freeman would qualify for the higher level, having had 194 PA against us. He just shades past Julio Franco and Justin Upton (both 1.110) - the latter, perhaps grudge-inspired, may be a case where a player is genuinely trying harder against us! Again, a very young team: Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis are the other 2018 Braves to have qualified. On Arizona’s side... Spivey? Yep. He made 15 starts, and went 31-for-63 with six home-runs. Goldy is the best on the current team, but that’s one of his lower levels of production.

Brewers

  • All-time killer: Casey McGeehee, 1.283 (.438/.486/.797)
  • Active: Jonathan Villar, 1.075 (.367/.441/.633)
  • All-time assassin: Erubiel Durazo, 1.311 (.432/.561/.750)
  • Active: Goldschmidt, 1.130 (.366/.478/.652)

Probably the first real surprises here. You thought one of these was sure to be Ryan Braun, didn’t you? But turns he has only hit .238 against us - at least, in the regular season. We’ll never let him forget the 2011 NLDS, in which he had a 1.460 OPS, then failed a drug test. Still, if you predicted McGeehee and Villar here, give yourself a prize! There’s something a little unfair about Durazo winning over Goldy, when Paul has maintained his production over a much bigger sample: 201 PA compared to 57 for Erubiel. This is another team Steve Finley did very well against, matching Goldschmidt’s 1.130 OPS in 156 PA.

Cardinals

  • All-time killer: Mark McGwire, 1.218 (.268/.468/.750)
  • Active: Matt Carpenter, .884 (.299/.406/.478)
  • All-time assassin: Luis Gonzalez, 1.104 (.368/.429/.676)
  • Active: Goldschmidt, .877 (.276/.390/.487)

Sheesh, I’d better send out for a restock of asterisks, I’m in danger of running out. Jim Edmonds (1.144) is second on the list. Bit of a surprise to see Felipe Lopez (1.115) come in ahead of Albert Pujols (1.039), though the latter does have more than five times as many plate-appearances. Gonzo’s numbers here are legit, and were achieved in 210 PA. He hit 14 home-runs against St. Louis, and no Diamondback otherwise has reached even double-digits. Goldy is tied with Matt Williams and Chris Young, on nine.

Cubs

  • All-time killer: Alfonso Soriano, 1.218 (.333/.404/.814)
  • Active: Javier Baez, 1.038 (.347/.385/.653)
  • All-time assassin: Goldschmidt, 1.191 (.358/.475/.716)
  • Active: Goldschmidt

At least it’s not Sammy Sosa (.999), though he does have most hits, home-runs, RBI and PA versus the D-backs. Soriano hit 17 home-runs in only 35 games against the D-backs - he had more HR against us, than he had walks (14) or singles (15). Baez just sneaks in over the threshold (52 PA), but already has driven in 13 runs in his 15 games facing us. We finally find a team where Goldschmidt has been the best we have ever seen. He’s one of five qualifying D-backs with an OPS over a thousand: Goldschmidt, Durazo, Tracy, Gonzales... and Conor Jackson. I just made myself sad.

Marlins

  • All-time killer: Cliff Floyd 1.157 (.400/.473/.684)
  • Active: Justin Bour .870 (.278/.342/.528)
  • All-time assassin: Kelly Johnson, 1.037 (.298/.377/.660)
  • Active: Goldschmidt, .945 (.318/.415/.530)

I was expecting to see Giancarlo Stanton top this list, but his 1.014 OPS trails both Floyd and Miguel Cabrera (1.111). Floyd probably ranks among those with the biggest split compared to their career number: his career OPS was 317 points lower, at .840. He didn’t hit Arizona as well outside his time with the Marlins, but still had a career OPS of 1.013 vs. AZ. Normal service is resumed for the Diamondbacks. By which I mean, Goldschmidt being beaten by someone who has better numbers, but over a much smaller sample size. Johnson barely squeaks in, having had 53 PA against the Marlins.

Mets

  • All-time killer: Benny Agbayani, 1.067 (.319/.429/.638)
  • Active: Michael Conforto, .861 (.236/.333/.527)
  • All-time assassin: Spivey, 1.042 (.356/.442/.600)
  • Active: Goldschmidt, .906 (.293/.369/.537)

Floyd ranks fifth all-time on the Mets list too, but definitely a surprise to see Agbayani at the top. I might have guessed Mike Piazza or David Wright. Instead “Bennie and the Mets” beats out Angel Pagan (.991), whom I quite forgot was a Met from 2008-11. Not a lot of recent success for the current Mets, although that isn’t much of a surprise! I’m beginning to wonder if Spivey got hits against anyone else except for the Mets and Braves. For I’m fairly sure he was not a 1.000 OPS guy in general. I’m also wondering if Goldschmidt is going to end up being our best active hitter against every single team in the league bar the Giants.

Nationals/Expos

  • All-time killer: Adam Dunn, 1.242 (.320/.382/.860)
  • Active: Michael Taylor, .984 (.321/.377/.607)
  • All-time assassin: Lamb, 1.101 (.281/.417/.684)
  • Active: Lamb

Former D-back Dunn wasted no time taking it to his old team after leaving as a free agent and signing in Washington. While he didn’t stay long, his eight homers in 13 games pushed Big Donkey ahead of Vlad Guerrero (1.177). Bit unexpected to see Taylor ahead of ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper, though all three bat better than .300 versus the D-backs. And, there we go. Lamb does it again, breaking the stranglehold Goldy has on being our designated assassin. He has hit seven home-run in just 72 PA against the Nationals. Goldschmidt is well down the list, with an OPS of only .687. That’s fifty points below Craig Counsell vs. the same team...

Phillies

  • All-time killer: Jayson Werth, 1.199 (.364/.411/.788)
  • Active: Cesar Hernandez, .978 (.435/.462/.516)
  • All-time assassin: Durazo, 1.278 (.375/.466/.813)
  • Active: Lamb, 1.114 (.344/.427/.688)

Werth is another who had a reputation as a D-backs killer, but that only seems to have applied during his time with the Phillies. Over his whole career, his OPS against us was .900, not that much more than his career .816 figure. Would NOT have guessed Hernandez as the current leader, but his .563 BABIP suggests this is probably not sustainable. This is another team who have done a good job of bottling up Goldschmidt. His OPS ranks not just behind Lamb among the current team, but also David Peralta, Chris Owings, A.J. Pollock and even Daniel Descalso.

Pirates

  • All-time killer: Brian Giles, .969 (.262/.326/.643)
  • Active: Starling Marte, .916 (.319/.356/.560)
  • All-time assassin: Luis Gonzalez, 1.072 (.333/.430/.642)
  • Active: David Peralta, .951 (.313/.368/.583)

I was expecting to see Andrew McCutchen here; turns out, he doesn’t even make the top five, coming in at #7, behind Rob Mackowiak, despite a K:BB of 49:40. We’ve done a very good job of keeping Cutch in the park as a Pirate, with six HR in 256 PA. Still, I think we’d all be happier if the Giants trade him away, before our series against them next week! Gonzo excelled against Pittsburgh across the board. He hit .333, with more walks than K’s (23:19), and a dozen home-run in 165 AB. The Freight Train makes his first appearance as the current assassin, with an OPS 86 points better than Goldschmidt.

Reds

  • All-time killer: Austin Kearns, 1.277 (.414/.506/.771)
  • Active: Joey Votto, 1.030 (.350/.467/.563)
  • All-time assassin: Johnson, .972 (.286/.340/.633)
  • Active: Peralta, .968 (.333/.385/.583)

Kearns may be the ultimate “D-backs killer”, with that OPS more than five hundred points above his career figure of .764. Again, he didn’t hit as well playing for elsewhere, suggesting once more this may not be a repeatable skill. No shock for the current #1, though Votto is not that far ahead of Eugenio Suarez (.981) or Scott Schebler (.954). On Arizona’s side, Johnson just edges out Peralta by four points, but there’s been no shortage of recent success. Pollock is only five points back of Peralta, and Goldschmidt is fourth on the all-time list at .874.

American League: 25 PA

For reasons of space, time (if I’d realized this was going to be 2,200 words, I’d probably have split it into two separate articles, covering killers and assassins separately!) and because a good number don’t have any current players with even 25 PA against us, I’m not going to do commentary for the AL. But the table below shows the info for them. The first line are the all-time and current killers, the second the all-time and current assassins.

AL Killers and assassins

Team All-time Current
Team All-time Current
Angels Darin Erstad, 1.168 (.438/.481/.688) Mike Trout, .917 (.300/.417/.500)
Goldschmidt, 1.247 (.333/.442/.806) Goldschmidt
Astros Luke Scott, 1.413 (.438/.538/.875) George Springer, 1.148 (.420/.481/.667)
Damian Miller, 1.107 (.345/.404/.702) Daniel Descalso, 1.059 (.333/.440/.619)
Athletics Ben Grieve, 1.007 (.370/.452/.556) Marcus Semien (.280/.308/.400)
Chris Young, 1.144 (.400/.419/.725) Goldschmidt, .920 (.265/.390/.529)
Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion, 1.814 (.400/.500/1.314) None
Gonzalez, 1.111 (.333/.444/.667) Goldschmidt, .478 (.136/.296/.182)
Indians Yan Gomes, .815 (.318/.360/.455) Gomes
Craig Counsell, .990 (.364/.444/.545) Goldschmidt, .741 (.238/.360/.381)
Mariners Ken Griffey, Jr., 1.162 (.292/.370/.792) None
Goldschmidt, 1.233 (.417/.483/.750) Goldschmidt
Orioles Brian Roberts, .941 (.345/.406/.534) Chris Davis, .772 (.231/.310/.462)
Goldschmidt, 1.014 (.320/.414/.600) Goldschmidt
Rangers David Murphy, 1.321 (.394/.412/.909) Robinson Chrinos, .891 (.321/.355/.536)
Jay Bell, 1.237 (.359/.408/.828) Pollock, .879 (.333/.356/.524)
Rays Aubrey Huff, 1.360 (.522/.577/.783) None
Eric Byrnes, 1.195 (.423/.464/.731) Goldschmidt, 1.109 (.320/.469/.640)
Red Sox David Ortiz, 1.152 (.342/.468/.684) Dustin Pedroia, 1.039 (.411/.468/.571)
Hudson, .878 (.348/.400/.478) Goldschmidt, .846 (.227/.346/.500)
Royals Carlos Beltran, 1.313 (.600/.593/.720) Alex Gordon, .795 (.245/.344/.453)
Luis Gonzalez, 1.307 (.395/.465/.842) None
Tigers Miguel Cabrera, 1.049 (.379/.463/.586) Cabrera
Gonzalez, 1.130 (.358/.470/.660) Goldschmidt, 1.004 (.360/.484/.520)
Twins Joe Mauer, .961 (.359/.422/.538) Mauer
Alex Cintron, 1.047 (.424/.441/.606) Pollock, .667 (.296/.296/.370)
White Sox Paul Konerko, 1.419 (.379/.419/1.000) Jose Abreu, 1.320 (.440/.440/.880)
Goldschmidt, .868 (.261/.346/.522) Goldschmidt
Yankees Bernie Williams, 1.253 (.429/.538/.714) Brett Gardner, .796 (.333/.351/.444)
Goldschmidt, 1.032 (.348/.423/.609) Goldschmidt