After a bit of a break, what with all the Bumgarner excitement and that, let’s get back to reviewing the 2010’s for the Diamondbacks. We already covered the all-baserunning team and the all-defense team, so now let’s take those elements out of the equation entirely, and just look at pure offense. As previously, these aren’t strictly the best hitterers to pull on the team uniform for this decade as a whole. We’re instead looking at the best single season at each position, with it also being the player’s primary location for the year in question. This is based on Baseball Reference’s Batting Runs (BR), and for obvious reasons, covers just the period 2010-19.
Overall for the decade, the best hitter in the major leagues isn’t a surprise. It was Mike Trout, who piled up 470.7 BR, over eighty more than the second-placed hitter, Joey Votto (390.4). Miguel Cabrera (352.1) was the only other to pass 270 runs, which gives you some idea of how far Trout is ahead of the class. Fourth goes to Paul Goldschmidt on 267.9, showing you how much of his value came from the other excellent elements in his game. He just edged out Andrew McCutchen (264.4), rounding out the top five. At the other end, Alcides Escobar (-190.4) was the major’s worst hitter. The man I kinda expected it to be, Jeff Mathis, was second worst at -148.8, though played fewer than half as many games as Escobar.
Now, onto single seasons, and purely for the Diamondbacks!
- P. Dan Haren (3.3, 2010). Yeah, I was expecting this to be Zack Greinke as well. But it instead goes to Haren, who batted .364 with a .902 OPS that year. Considering his career OPS over thirteen years in the majors was .511, we are probably talking random fluctuation for the win. Zack Duke’s 2011, where he hit two home-runs in only twenty at-bats, came in runner-up here, with a value of 1.1 Batting Runs.
- C. Miguel Montero (20.5, 2012). Miggy has an advantage, in that he has also been the most durable of our catchers. Only four seasons in franchise history have seen one appear in 115 or more games: all of them belong to Montero. This was his peak year, with 141 appearances, one more than his existing franchise record for the position, set the previous season. But hitting .286 with fifteen home-runs didn’t exactly hurt.
1B. Paul Goldschmidt (51.6, 2015). But let me just expand that to, say, the next six:
2. Paul Goldschmidt (45.5, 2013)
3. Paul Goldschmidt (37.7, 2018)
4. Paul Goldschmidt (34.7, 2017)
5. Paul Goldschmidt (32.7, 2014)
6. Paul Goldschmidt (27.8, 2016)
7. Paul Goldschmidt (20.4, 2012)
Any questions? #8 was Christian Walker’s campaign this year, at 8.0, incidentally. Paul has six of the eight top single seasons by a D-back in the 2010’s, and Goldy’s overall tally for the decade was more than five times as much as any other Arizona hitter.
- 2B. Aaron Hill (25.6, 2012). Interestingly, of the twenty qualifying seasons for the decade at second-base, as well the #1, Hill also gave us the #18 and #19. [We’ll get to the last-placed one further down] But that doesn’t take away how good he was in his first full season with the D-backs, batting .302 with 25 home-runs. It was good enough to get him his second Silver Slugger and a mention on three NL MVP ballots.
- SS. Stephen Drew (13.0, 2010). And it’s not even close. Indeed, Drew was the only one of 26 players seasons to be in positive territory. This says a lot about how defense heavy the position has skewed over this decade for the D-backs. Even after Ahmed’s offensive blossoming this year, he could only come in at -3.4, still behind such luminaries as Willie Bloomquist’s 2012 campaign, at -1.5.
- 3B. Jake Lamb (11.0, 2016). This is another position where the D-backs have struggled to get consistent offensive production over the decade. There were a startling 109 players with better offensive seasons than Arizona’s best campaign at third-base, across the major-leagues in the 2010’s. Even Eduardo Escobar’s 35-homer season this year was only worth single digits, sitting at 8.6.
- LF. David Peralta (23.1, 2015). The Freight Train has been a rare bright spot in left field, responsible for three of the four best seasons at the position this decade. There haven’t been very many others who have made an impression, with Jason Kubel taking third-place - the very definition of an offense-first player. Only Peralta, Kubel and Parra started even 100 games in left for Arizona over the 2010s.
- CF. Ketel Marte (40.3, 2019). Whether you consider him at CF or 2B, Marte would have been the best of the decade at either position. It was also, by quite some distance, the best non-Goldschmidt season at of the decade at the plate in ANY position. But, I guess, coming within a couple of decimals in the fourth place of the National League batting title, while also hitting 32 home-runs, will tend to boost your numbers.
- RF. Justin Upton (32.8, 2011). The former holder of the Tim Locastro HBP franchise record did his own share of hitting the same season he set the previous mark. But an honorable mention definitely goes to J.D. Martinez, who accumulated a startling 22.4 Batting Runs in just 62 games of the 2017 season, ninety-seven fewer than Upton needed. Pro-rated to a full season, Martinez would probably have surpassed even Goldy’s tally.
And the worst at each spot?
- P. Merrill Kelly (-15.3, 2019). Yeah, an OPS over a full season of .075 will do that.
- C. Chris Herrmann (-15.3, 2017). Just edging out Mathis whose two seasons were second (2018, -15.2) and third (2017, -14.3). But those two are good enough combined for Mathis to be the worst-hitting Diamondbacks catcher of the decade.
- 1B. Xavier Nady (-7.5, 2011).
- 2B. Chris Owings (-31.1, 2015).
- SS. Nick Ahmed (-24.5, 2016). Ahmed dominates the bottom of this chart, with the three least offensive seasons by an Arizona shortstop. He and Owings are tied for the worst hitters of the decade for the Diamondbacks by overall Batting Runs, each man at .-68.5.
- 3B. Melvin Mora (-9.9, 2011). Tied with Deven Marrero in 2018, but Mora racked up his tally in seven fewer games, though did have more PA.
- LF. Gerardo Parra (-12.9, 2010).
- CF. Jarrod Dyson (-21.4, 2019). Yes, the best and worst center-fielders of the decade for the Diamondbacks, both played on the team this season.
- RF. Chris Owings (-19.6, 2018). CO manages to make the list at two different positions!