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SnakePit Round Table: No more May-days

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Thank heavens THAT’S over...

Poland fans

What went wrong for the D-backs in May?

Makakilo: The bullpen went wrong. In April, 6 of 7 relievers had ERAs less than 5 (minimum 4 innings pitched). In May, only 4 of 10 relievers had ERAs less than 5 (minimum 4 innings pitched). Let’s rank May ERA for relief appearances:

  • 0.93 in 9.2 innings Sherfy
  • 2.31 in 11.2 innings Lopez
  • 3.12 in 8.2 innings Holland
  • 4.70 in 7.2 innings Chafin
  • 5.14 in 14 innings McFarland
  • 5.25 in 12 innings Andriese
  • 5.68 in 12.2 innings Hirano
  • 6.46 in 15.1 innings Godley
  • 6.75 in 4 innings Duplantier
  • 7.30 in 12.1 innings Bradley

Jim: Bad timing. They outscored their opponents by 19 runs, and went 11-17? The team ranked 6th in starter ERA for the month, 8th in bullpen ERA, 3rd in runs scored… but 13th in win percentage? It’s the fourth time the team has gone 11-17 in May: the other three times, their run differentials were -8 (2008), -19 (2012) and -14 (2016). It would be interesting to break down all those one-run losses last month and figure out, were they games we couldn’t get a clutch hit, ones the bullpen gave away, or what happened. The team was - and is - better than those results. Hopefully, June will show that.

Jack: Situational hitting seemed to be an issue through a large part of the month. At the same time two key members of the bullpen have not been able to do their jobs, and it’s created a big knock on effect

Steven: I think they were just pretty unlucky all month long. The bullpen was a problem, with a 4.84 ERA but a 4.23 FIP showed they pitched better than they looked. A more glaring stat had the bullpen allowing a .344 BABIP in May, absurd numbers honestly. The offense was fine, albeit with terrible performance in leverage situations. If it doesn’t balance out in June, we may be in for a long rest of the season.

How would you fix the bullpen?

Makakilo: Replace Bradley with a reliever from outside the organization. Bradley has an option left so he would not be lost. His ERA was clearly the worst. His WPA was very bad. Also, his performance in high leverage situations was memorable in a bad way. DBacksEurope wrote about the importance of leverage.

Jim: Makakilo, you are now required to get an account on Twitter, so that Archie can block you. :) “Fixing” relievers is always going to be tough, because it’s hard to be certain what is a genuine issue, and what is noise from small sample size - as the handy list above shows, we are dealing with what would be a couple of games for a starter, being a month’s worth of work. I do think we should have Jimmie Sherfy up here on a permanent basis. We need the best seven arms we have, and I’m not sure using him as a long reliever (9.2 IP in five MLB games) and low-leverage (average LI = 0.90) is the answer.

Jack: The bullpen is better than we think. The year to date rankings in just about everything that measures team relief work is about middle of the pack in the NL. But when you break it down by individual, it’s clear that the two main setup/bridge men to Greg Holland are not getting it done. Archie Bradley and Yoshi Hirano are really hurting the team a lot. In Archie’s case he is a league average reliever who is having a tough time and been unlucky to be much worse than average. The problem is , an average reliever should not be your main bridge guy to your closer. In Yoshi’s case, it’s command of the splitter, plain and simple. Fix that and you’ve fixed Yoshi.

Steven: I don’t think you “fix” relievers. These guys are notoriously streaky and I think Torey has the right idea, let the guys work themselves out of ruts. Sherfy needs to be on the MLB roster, he’s pitched way too well to keep someone like Godley on the roster, who doesn’t look like he could get Little Leaguers out right now. JRM passed through waivers fine, I think Godley has the same chances.

Who was the team MVP and LVP for the month?

Makakilo: MVP was David Peralta. I compared players by Win Probability Added (WPA) during May. Peralta’s WPA was .76. Second place was Zack Greinke, who is Mr. Consistency, moving up from third place in April. This season, Zack Greinke deserves a better win-loss record. Third place was Ketel Marte.

LVP was Archie Bradley. In May his WPA from pitching was negative.61 and from hitting it was negative .01.

Jim: I’m going with Ketel Marte, who continues to make the transition to center field look easy, along with batting .309 and hitting 7 home-runs, for a May OPS of .951. Runner-up was Zack Greinke, and third-place to Eduardo Escobar. LVP is a tie between Bradley and Hirano.

Jack: Marte had the highest OPS, but Escobar had 10 more RBI, so his timing might have been a bit better...or it could have just been opportunity as Marte typically bat’s higher in the order. Either way, I’m going with Greinke for MVP. Although his WL was only 1-1, he was masterful in May. 2.14 ERA, 27-3 K/BB ratio, and 0.772 WHIP ! He kicked ass.

As for LVP, I will take Godley. As bad as Bradley and Hirano were, Godley’s implosion created so much disarray for the team, when they could least afford it.

Steven: Godley was dreadful, enough so that he made me turn off games whenever he entered. He earns LVP.

MVP had multiple options, including guys like Robbie Ray, Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly and Zack Greinke. But Ketel Marte is my winner, with both the bat and the glove. His athletic ability is apparent in centerfield, where he makes difficult catches look routine. I think he enjoys the challenge of commanding that much ground, and he has acclimated beautifully there. And at the plate, this guy has been lights out since the calendar switched.

The All-Star Game ballot is out. Who will represent the D-backs next month?

Makakilo: My votes are David Peralta and Zack Greinke.

Jim: Greinke is the obvious choice, but I’d have to say Marte deserves it. He is currently leading the National League in fWAR for center-fielders, which is amazing considering he never played there before this season. However, I think it would be highly amusing if Christian Walker made it, simply because the D-backs’ 1B always does. :) The troll of Cardinals’ fans would be epic…

Jack: Although the votes won’t be there for the DBacks, among position players I think both Marte and Escobar deserve to go. And I think Greinke and Holland also belong on the team. I doubt Dave Roberts puts 4 DBacks on the squad, but he should be able to make room for at least 2.

Steven: Greinke only. D-backs get no national attention, both from fans and coaches, so seeing them get snubbed is guaranteed.

What do you want to see from next week’s draft?

Makakilo: I want the D-backs to draft Shea Langeliers because of his mental strengths. My biggest concern is drafting a high-school player who is unsignable. Jim wrote that a reasonable expectation is that the D-backs draft two players worth more than 1 WAR during their career. My biggest hope is we draft one All-Star.

Jim: Mike Hazen and team making good choices. It’s always tough, because I;m dealing with players entirely on the basis of second-hand reports, so it’s like picking your favorite film based entirely on critics’ reviews. The results of that article did represent a damper on my expectations, to realize it’s statistically likely that four of those eight top hundred picks will never reach the majors at all.

Jack: They need to beat expectations, and beat the odds. Because they screwed up the first round so royally each of the last two seasons. So they need to pull a rabbit out of the hat and end up beating the odds by a fair amount. That may seem like an unfair expectation, but the last two years abysmal failures in the first round created that necessity.

Steven: What Jack said. If they can’t sign their 1st round pick, or worse, he flops like Pavin Smith, it’s a disaster. They’ve talked up this draft from around the Goldy trade, so not getting universally high grades is an organizational failure.

Due to reasons of space, the question below was held over from last week, when it was Phoenix Fan Fusion. And would probably have made more sense... :)

What are the best/worst things about D-backs fandom generally?

Jack: Just like most every person I know, the collective positive and negative qualities of the fan base are the opposite sides of the coin. DBacks fans are polite, and one never feels threatened or ill at ease at a DBacks game. (Except when Dodger fans show up drunk). You can bring you family or your Grandma and nobody is going to be cussing a blue streak from behind you or throwing food and beer around. But the flip side of that is they are too passive and not loud or supportive enough when needed.

ISH95: Like Jack said, we tend to be fairly well behaved, and even when we aren’t, (I.E. the Brute Squad) we aren’t inappropriate or anything like that. However, it’s kind of easy to forget that there is a Fandom sometimes. It’s not a point of pride with the majority of the state. You walk up to someone wearing a Dbacks hat and comment on it, and 50/50 chance they just look at you like you’re crazy and back away slowly.

Wesley: The Dback fandom is polite and friendly. Like Jack and ISH95 said, the fandom is too passive, and not passionate or vocal enough though at all. People forget to cheer and the stadium is too quiet. I have social anxiety disorder and generally I HATE going to places with a lot of people because of the noise, but I’m fine in Chase because it’s really quiet and no one cheers compared to even some of the minor league stadiums I’ve been to. That’s a good thing for me, but it’s almost embarrassing that our fandom doesn’t know how to support a team live.

Steven: I agree with Jack. D-backs fans can be passionate at times, but it’s a laid back and welcoming environment. I just wish more people went to games. Oh well, I’ll take the less expensive tickets while I can.

Dano: I honestly don’t have any real sense or awareness of a “D-backs fandom”, exceptt here at the Pit and when I (very, very rarely these days) make it up to Phoenix for a game at Chase. That said:

The fact that Phoenix has a population of 1.6 million, and Chase Field presently has a capacity around 49,000, and yet we can’t fill the stadium on any sort of regular basis is telling. So is the fact, as many of us have noted, that even when we do sell out, D-backs fans often feel outnumbered, and are often out-cheered, at least in terms of volume.

So the worst thing, I suppose, is that there aren’t enough of us. The best thing, meanwhile, seems to me to be that we are passionate, we tend to be baseball-literate, and we also tend to be friendly and welcoming to newbies and the baseball-curious. During or after the last couple of recaps I’ve written, I’ve swung by the team sites for our opponents (the Rays and the Pirates, most recently), and wow, things tend to be a lot bleaker, a lot less lively, a lot less populated, and a lot less substantive in other parts of the SBNation baseball diaspora than they are here. So yay us, FWIW.

Makakilo: There are so many great ways to be a fan! Perhaps the best is to be part of a friendly and welcoming group, such as the AZ Snake Pit, or the Brute Squad. Collecting souvenirs (like baseballs and bobbleheads) is fun. And cheering for the D-backs can be in person, on TV, or on-line.

Keegan: Just to give some different commentary on the matter. I really can’t stand when people tell other fans how they’re allowed to react. For example, if the D’backs go a stretch of 6 games scoring only 3 runs or less with a handful of 1 run defeats, I’m going to voice my displeasure as I see fit. Yes, I’m aware that the season is 162 games long. Yes, I’m aware things can change quickly (hello San Francisco series). That doesn’t mean we are required to be complacent when there is a few week slump. I can’t stand the holier than thou response, “You should really calm down and enjoy the ride.” Let fans voice their displeasure how they see fit. With that being said, some people can be quite dramatic when it isn’t warranted….

Turambar: As a proud member of the Brute Squad it is my sworn duty to ensure fandom becomes more impassioned and vocal, while not descending into the deprived depths of Doyerness. One day I hope our droogs will become a known and beloved fixture at any game. One day our “victory” song played at BOB will no longer be the vanilla garbage we hear now, but will be performed by local metalheads Flotsom & Jetsam. Sooooooonnn

James: It’s less about the Diamondbacks and more about Phoenix in general, I hate the fickle nature of this town when it comes to sports. The Phoenix Suns survived the wrath of the fans for a few seasons, but Robert Sarver long ago burned through any and all goodwill the team had with Phoenix fans. Now, if a team is not a winner, it becomes more popular to bag on the team than to support it through its tough times.

Jim: I appreciate the self-deprecating nature of fandom here. We don’t expect success and are thus extremely grateful for any, when it shows up. But it can often be annoyingly short-term, with no appreciation that slumps happen to all teams over the course of a 162-game season. We do seem rather too quick to give up, both on players and the team as a whole.