Since the July 28th arrival of Eduardo Escobar the Diamondbacks are finally getting the production they projected from the 3rd base position (113 ops+ & above avg defense). It’s hard to imagine where the club would be without that trade. It also happens to conveniently be exactly one month. So this will be my highly selective begin and end point for today.
The team is 15-11, .577 Win % since that date, which is very good. In fact it’s a 93 win pace. So why do we feel so frustrated with the team right now?
Other than the recency bias of losing 3 of the last 4, In a word: INCONSISTENCY.
SCHEDULE: Most of those 26 games have been against the “soft spot” in the schedule, and there was the hope and even expectation that the team would do even better than that over that part of the schedule. Most people felt they needed to “fatten up” in advance of the grueling stretch run they are just beginning now. But they haven’t managed to win more than 3 in a row in the last month, (never losing more than 2 in a row either). In fact they haven’t had a win streak longer than 5 games all year. That may tempt some to say they are TOO consistent, but that’s not really the case.
BULLPEN: has been less consistent than we had grown accustomed to. I’m not delving into the individual performances in the bullpen, the trades, who should be the closer, etc etc. . We’ve talked about that a lot. We have who we have, there will be reinforcements coming. But as to why things have felt so inconsistent, below is a simple table to explain. (All Ranks NL only)
Bullpen the last month
|Thru Jul 27
|Since Jul 28
In a League context thru July 27th the DBacks had gotten the best results out of their bullpen of any team in NL, (and in fact all of MLB) However Since July 28th they have been closer to middle of the pack, just slightly above league avg. Perhaps somewhat ironic that after 2/3 of a season of ERA out performing FIP by over a run, the FIP has improved, but the run prevention has gotten worse, so for the last month the two are right in line. In any case, there have been several blown leads/games over the last month. All teams have them. We just hardly had any the first 4 months, so it’s been jarring to all of a sudden experience what most teams, even good teams, have been going through.
The distribution here is a factor. There have been half a dozen really bad bullpen games, a handful of “meh” and roughly half of the games have been “good” bullpen games. This is what average often looks like…….way above and way below average, combining to give you…well….average. See below
OFFENSE: There is some weird stuff happening.
· RANK 1ST IN NL WITH A 109 wRC+ since JULY 28th. (2nd in OPS, 3rd in BA)
· RANK 7th in NL RUNS W/120 SINCE July 28th (4.6 R/G Ranks 5th)
· HAVE SCORED 3 OR FEWER RUNS IN 10 OF LAST 26 GAMES AND GONE 1-9 IN THOSE GAMES
Think about how incongruous those 3 bullets are, especially the first and last one. (1st bullet is link to table) How can they have the best wRC+, and rate stats in the league and yet come up empty in 40% of their games ? This ultimately is the biggest source of frustration. Now the natural inclination is to think they have just not been “clutch”. However if you look at various situations you see that hasn’t really been the case at least with runners on base situations. See Links:
- Runners on Base 107 wRC+ ranks 3rd
- RISP 106 wRC+ Ranks 4th
- 2 Out W/RISP 124 wRC+ ranks 4th
- They only rank 7th in High Leverage wRC+, but that’s only 95 Plate Appearances.
I don’t quite know what the cause is for the team offense to take the night off roughly 40% of the time. Even if you scope out, and look at all the games the team has played NOT INCLUDING MAY, they have scored 3 runs or fewer 40 times in 104 games, or 38.5% of the time. Now they are not the worst in the league. Per this report, They rank 10th of 15 in fewest games 3 runs or less for full year. But the teams below them are out of the running for the playoffs, and all play in pitchers parks. If this is to be a playoff team, they need to be better than that. I think we are justified to feel like they need to find more consistency on offense and avoid some of these “Tip your cap” get shutdown games.
Is it random variation? Is there an inherent flaw in the roster composition that causes the lineup to not mesh well? Is it mechanical, psychological, inability to adjust, or just the baseball God’s having a good ol’ time?
They will need to find an answer not only to make it to TO the playoffs, but also to have any hope of doing anything once they get there.