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Reviewing our 2019 pre-season win predictions for the Diamondbacks

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That went better than the majority of us expected!

ILLUSTRATION: Psychic The Detroit Free Press/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Back at the beginning of the season, we asked the writers to give us their pre-season predictions for how the 2019 Diamondbacks. 162 games later, it seems appropriate to ask everyone to critique their own performance... [This was originally a question for last weekend’s roundtable, which is why Justin is also present!]

Charlie Gebow: 73

I was feeling cocky about this after Meltdown May™, but the Diamondbacks surprised me enough to juuuuust get invested before getting my heart torn out by the Mets of all teams. I think the main thing that caused this year’s team to be better than last year’s was that the bullpen didn’t collectively implode over the course of an entire month, which would have been nice last year. Even while losing a lot of the core, the Diamondbacks did more to supplement the team last offseason than, say, the Cubs and that showed in the standings. There’s a lot to build on to make a run in 2020. It’ll be interesting to see what the front office can do to get to that next level…. Or if Ken Kendrick will let them.

Turambar: 95

I remember being jokingly optimistic about this prediction. Like “They can’t possibly get close to 90 wins, much less 95.”

They ended up doing FAR better than I thought and they did so with a myriad of injuries and player trades.

Ultimately this year was full of surprises and had Weaver not gone down and Peralta not been himself all year we might have gotten those 95 wins.

Jack: 77

The team beat my projections that I posted in the WAR/Payroll series. That had them at 79 Wins. In the predictions thread, I originally said 77, figuring they’d under perform projections due to mid season trade deadline sell offs. I then lowered to 75 in the comments section after the Souza injury. But that was just reactionary. Ultimately they’ve been better and the depth was better than expected. However what’s interesting is all the upside came from the position players. While distribution not quite as expected, the total of pitcher WAR matched the projections.

Note that the WAR happened to total up almost exactly as their actual win total. One might think, “But their Pythag?”. However they probably scored a few more runs and allowed fewer than their underlying peripherals would suggest they should have. See their 2nd Order Win % here . That suggests they should have only won 84 games. It should also be noted that their Pythagorean Won Loss, based on run differential, is now only 3 games better than their actual record, and even if they had matched their pythag, they would still be missing the playoffs.

It’s legit to wonder if the team’s future would be even better if they had pulled the trigger on a couple of more trades, such as moving Robbie Ray and David Peralta for best available package at the trade deadline. It’s also legit to be happy they didn’t and as a fan getting to enjoy an entertaining few weeks of contention in late August/Early September. There is value to both approaches. YMMV. It’s also hard to say just how much the future would have been enhanced had Hazen gone scorched earth on July 31st. We cannot be sure what the returns would have been.

Makakilo: 89

I expected the D-backs to surpass last year’s mark, and they did. My pre-season projection had two parts:

  • “With 721 runs scored and 683 runs allowed, the Pythagorean projection is 85.0 wins.” My projected runs scored/allowed was low, perhaps due to changes in the baseball. Nevertheless, my 85 projected wins was on-target.
  • “Let’s look at luck to complete my prediction. In last two seasons, D-backs performed 3.6 and 4.3 wins below Pythagorean. Instead of the usual underperformance, what if the D-backs achieve 4 wins above Pythagorean? Luck raised my prediction from 85 wins to 89 wins.” My projected luck was wrong because the D-backs continued to underperform relative to their end-of-season Pythagorean projection, which was 87.7 wins (formula from Baseball Reference website).

edbigghead: 75

Obviously I was wrong, this one time. The Diamondbacks exceeded my expectations by 10 whole wins. That is huge! The team contended for the entire season and even grabbed National attention for their wild card run and what, 11 wins out of 12 games during that time? What this says to me is that Hazen, even after trading Goldy and losing Pollock and Corbin, still was smart enough to put a solid 1st half team together. THEN, even after trading the best pitcher on the team in Greinke, Hazen rebuilt the team and the farm as we watched the D-backs contend for a shot at the postseason. In the end the D-backs ended up with a winning record (3rd season in a row), filled the farm, and brought in new major league ready talent, but missed the postseason. I am very happy with the 2019 Diamondbacks.

Keegan Thompson: 72

Upon initial reflection last week on my prediction, I felt like an idiot. I said there was no way Mike Hazen would allow the D’backs to finish around .500, and they would be closer to either 10 games over or under at the conclusion of this season. As we saw, they hovered around .500 for a good majority of the season… Go me… But! but. but. I distinctly remember just prior to the trade deadline Hazen saying it’d be difficult to see a .500 team going deep into the playoffs. So what does he do? Pulls off an impressive trade for Zach Greinke and didn’t blink first in discussing a Robbie Ray trade with the Yankees. So in a way I partially feel correct because he’s navigating how he wants this team to look with an emphasis on sustained future success. His comments at the end of this season reflect that he’s aware there’s more work to be done. I couldn’t be more excited for the future.

James Attwood: 73

I remember thinking that they might be a 75-77 win team and then applying pessimism to offset rose-coloured glasses. Also, my instincts told me that if the team were not in the thick of the playoff hunt (which I did not think they would be) by the time July rolled around, that Mike Hazen would start to sell off player assets to kickstart the movement for trying again in 2020. I just didn’t see Mike Hazen being the sort that would allow the team to live too close to .500 once the late-season rolled around. As it is, it seemed that no one in the NL was particularly interested in running away with the Wild Card. This left the Diamondbacks within 2 games of October baseball until very near the trade deadline. Key injuries to Weaver, Lamb, and Souza meant the team was already thin, making trades harder to make fit. I do believe that those injuries changed the course of the season. Since the team, despite its lack of depth, managed to stay in the hunt through the end of the season, the bigger sell-off I was anticipating with my 73-77 gut feeling never materialized. As Mike pointed out, the big feeling was that Mike Hazen would try to avoid a .500 finish. He surprised many of us by actually exceeding the .500 mark, rather than falling short.

Justin

I apparently did not post in the pre-season prediction thread, but I think I had 70-75 wins. I didn’t think we were bad enough to lose 90 games, but I also didn’t think we would be playing meaningful games in September. I asked for a ticket to the September 14th game for my birthday early in the season. My Mom ordered it, but at the time, I was basically just wanting to go to a game for my birthday not really expecting it to be meaningful. Re-reading the prediction thread... wow. I laughed at this one considering if we win today we will finish with 85 wins.

I can’t believe people chose 85 and higher wow!

I think this years team not making the playoffs is easier to swallow than last years. With a win today, our September record will be 15-11, 31-22 since July 31. In 2018, they were 8-18 in September and 22-31 after July 31 (I chose July 31, because of the Greinke trade). Last year they collapsed, this year, minus Pollock, Corbin and ZG for 2 months we stayed competitive until game 157.

Dano: 80

I am very pleasantly surprised...I turned in a relatively optimistic (compared with many others’) prediction of 80-82. The offense was the big surprise for me this year, and a very pleasant one. Not so much with the pitching, though I am glad we’ve gotten to have a long look at some of the up-and-comers in our Minor League system. With the Goldschmidt trade, I figured 2019 would be a lot closer to a rebuilding-lite year than it turned out to be. I am really happy with this result, and feeling very optimistic about 2020.

ISH95: 74

The first half of my prediction wasn’t far off. I said that I expected the team to be good enough to be “not out of it” by the trade deadline. After that, kind of went off the rails. I predicted that Hazen would make a couple small buy moves, but wear and tear would take the team down and lead to a 74 win season.

Instead, Hazen sold, and the team got better. #YCPB

Steven: 75

While I’m surprised at this team competing for a playoff spot well into September, they always had the talent to compete, which I mentioned in regards to both defense and pitching. Yes, they lost 3 starters from the previous year in Pollock, Goldy and Corbin, but the veterans were another year into their prime and you hoped to get some injured players back. Of course, all those injured players were non-factors (Souza, Lamb, Walker) so it’s even more surprising they got to 85 wins. They had quite a few breakout stars, namely Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar and they both more than made up for the loss of Paul Goldschmidt.

Listening to offers on both Ray and Greinke trade were the correct calls, and is one of the many reasons I trust this Front Office to do the right thing in terms of roster construction. We’re extremely lucky to have the best FO of all the major sports in the Valley.

Jim McLennan: 78

More wins than the Cubs? I’ll take it! I claim some points for saying “I suspect we’ll probably not end up within five games of that: we’ll either be significantly better, or considerably worse,” depending on whether the team went into buy or sell mode. After they traded Greinke at the deadline, while at .500, I was prepared for a rough second-half, but somehow, the team improved thereafter, and the strong finish propelled them to seven games better than I expected. I think the pitching held up better than I expected, and the strong seasons from Marte and Escobar, as well as the flowering of Walker, helped overcome the loss of Goldy. If not for Greg Holland’s five blown saves, who knows where we might have ended up?

Sean Testerman: 85

Nailed it! Since I guessed perfectly, I don’t have to justify myself!

Just kidding, it was purely a guess on my part, though I did think the team was better constructed than most, owing to enhanced depth across the board and a still good rotation. Escobar, Merrill Kelly, and the Goldy trade all addressed huge holes on the team and all we needed was a few players to take a step forward to make 85 wins a reality.

I mentioned to “look for breakouts from Lamb, Marte, either Kelly, or Souza Jr.”

Two of those didn’t happen due to injury (Lamb and Souza Jr.) but Marte and the two Kelly’s combined for 11.0 fWAR. I’ve long been talking about Ketel’s upside and I didn’t even think a 7 win season would happen, yet here we are. Carson Kelly makes sense considering the prospect hype. But Merrill Kelly is truly baffling. In some games, he looked absolutely terrible but in many games, he pitched like an ace. Going by game score, of the top 25 games by Dbacks starters this season, Merrill owns 7 of them, including 4 of the top 8. And this is a team that had Zack Greinke for a good while and he finished the season with an ERA below 3.00. Baffling.

But overall, it’s a theme for the team: adding more and more talent to the team, in small increments. But they all add up.

The following writers also submitted pre-season predictions

  • Michael McDermott: 78
  • Nate Rowan: 75
  • Xipooo: 71
  • Wesley Baier: 92