Over the season, we’ve been polling fans as to their confidence, both in the team and in manager Torey Lovullo. It has been an interesting way to take the temperature on how fans feel about the Diamondbacks. But looking at the final results, and how things changed over the course of the season, it became clear what a significant factor the team’s trade-deadline deals appear to have been. There are times when a picture is worth a thousand words, they say. This is probably one of them, so let’s start with the chart showing the percentage expressing confidence in the team over the year:
There were ups and downs, both before and after the deadline, largely related to team performance, e.g. plummet after the opening Dodger series, then a strong recovery as the D-backs negotiated the tricky April schedule better than expected. But the overall trends should be pretty clear. If not, I’ve added black lines to show them. :) Confidence tended downwards toward the deadline, then mounted a strong recovery thereafter. The team did have an improved performance from August on, going 31-22 in the final two months. That’s the equivalent of a 95-win pace - though remarkably, six teams in the NL played better still, posting a .600 win percentage or higher over that time
Beyond that, the two big trades which Mike Hazen pulled off were likely the main reason. The arrival of Zac Gallen certainly provided a boost, both for this year and next, and his arrival effectively balanced the departure of Zack Greinke in our rotation. [Gallen was worth 1.3 bWAR with Arizona; Greinke 1.3 bWAR with Houston] The fact he is under team control for the next five season was a definite plus. Even if his cost was a well-regarded prospect, in Jazz Chisholm, Gallen’s ability to make an immediate impact was seen positively. Cake today is better than the promise of cake tomorrow, if you like.
The trade of Zack Greinke was one which many pundits told us should not have been possible at all. “Look at that contract!” they said. “He has a no-trade list of half the teams in the majors!” they said. “You’ll never be able to shift him without eating almost all of his salary.” But in the Houston Astros, Mike Hazen found a team who were an excellent fit in terms of wanting another starter, and had the prospects and the resources to make the trade work for both teams. If the Astros win the World Series this year or next, they will likely be happy with the deal, regardless of what the prospects sent to Arizona might do. And it certainly gives Arizona a great deal more flexibility, financially.
The chart above compares manager and team confidence over the course of the season, and you can see the strong connection. Statistically, the correlation for the year worked out at 0.72 which is very high, to the point that the two questions seems almost superfluous. Next year, I hope SB Nation maybe adjust that: one question on confidence seems enough, we don’t get much more useful data from splitting it up. But I also note that for almost every single week, Torey Lovullo confidence was higher than that in the Diamondbacks as a whole.