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SnakePit Round Table: And, so, it ends...

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Arizona ended 2019 strongly. Let’s review the finale of this year’s campaign, and look forward to our personal off-seasons!

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Diamondbacks won their last three series, and final five games. Does that matter, or is it irrelevant?

Jack: It’s better to end on a high note, despite the disappointment of not making the postseason. Torey got the most he could out of the players. They played hard for him all year. I’m glad they did so to the end.

Makakilo: Winning the last three series is relevant because:

  • Evidence of culture of winning.
  • Evidence of a team that could reach playoffs next season.
  • Evidence of depth – high quality of the players on the bench and in the minors.

Justin: I think it is a bit of both. I like that they did not just roll over and die after the 6 game losing streak and 1-7 mark in mid September (the last game of the series at Cincinnati thru the series at home against the Reds). That could easily have been an 8 game losing streak, as our lone win was a 1-0 affair. As for the not mattering part, even if we had gone 4-4, that puts us at 88 wins. The Brewers are already at 89, so today would be a must win to force game 163. Looking at the standings right now, the Mets, Cubs and Dbacks all are at 84 or 85 wins. How crazy would a 4 way tie for the second wildcard spot be? Lol

Dano: I broadly agree with all of the above. It’s certainly nice for us fans to go out on a sweep of the Padres. And I, too, was concerned during our mid-month travails that, as Justin says the team might just roll over and die. Really good to see that that didn’t happen, and that even after we were officially eliminated, we kept fighting. The D-Backs fought hard this year, and so this is a good note to end on for them as well. They seemed a lot more relaxed these last five games, and have looked like they’re having fun. Good for them.

ISH95: It’s always better to win, and there wasn’t a draft pick to lose for, so I’d say it’s a pretty good thing. Winning out made the final few games more enjoyable that’s for sure.

Steven: I didn’t care, as I think most fans didn’t once they were officially eliminated from playoff contention, but these guys are still professionals, and can take the smallest things as motivation into the off-season. I hope it fuels them all off-season.

Turambar: It’s nice, as things go for a team not in the playoffs. Honestly though, that’s it. It’s nice they didn’t just quit, which would have infuriated me and my fellow Brutes, so that’s a thing.

Who was the September MVP and LVP?

Jack: Merrill Kelly, 4-1, 2.18 ERA, 33 IP in 5 starts has a pretty good case for September MVP. It seemed like he was fading and the workload of his first full season would diminish his results. Instead he got better and had a great month. Kudos

Least Valuable is Robbie Ray. 5 Starts, 22 ⅓ IP and a 6.85 ERA, 0-1 record, and getting blown out by the Mets was especially damaging. Fact is he was supposed to step up and be the ace, and he couldn’t do it.

Makakilo: My pick for MVP is Ketel Marte. In the last 30 days, Ketel Marte had the highest fWAR of 1.1, edging ahead of Merrill Kelly in close second with 0.8. His consistency is great! Honorable mention to Christian Walker for his grand slam to win yesterday’s game against the Padres.

In the last 30 days, Ray was unlucky with BABIP of .375 (3rd highest of D-back pitchers). I gave Ray a pass.

My pick for LVP is Jake Lamb. In the last 30 days, of the D-back hitters, Jake Lamb ranked 13th in OBP(.304), SLG(.326), OPS(.630). His two bright spots:

  • ranked 5th/6th for RBIs (11).
  • ranked 4th/5th/6th for baserunning (BsR = 0.5).

Justin:

  • MVP Pitching I liked what I saw from Merril Kelly a lot this month. Of the 5 starters that have 3 or more starts, Kelly has the most IP, 1 less strikeout than Ray, second lowest WHIP and opponents BA (to Gallen, who made 3 starts). He has only given up 3 HRs, tying Gallen, but ZG has almost half as many innings. He had game scores of 78 and 79 this month. I can see someone disputing my giving him MVP due to his start Wednesday, though. Big knock on him is 11 BBs, too. MVP of the September bullpen goes to Ginkel.
  • LVP Pitching Sherfy. “Free Sherfy!” Maybe the organization knew something.... If you take out his Marlins game, his September ERA drops to 2.98, though. For SPs, I would say Ray.
  • MVP hitting I was trying to convince myself to not say Marte, but despite being out since Sept. 17, I will give it to him. Two fewer hits than Escobar (40 less ABs), Leads in 2Bs and RBI, and is 2nd in HRs to Walker (18 less abs). Slashing .390/.438/.746 and OPS of 1.18 (leads all categories). I know, I know small sample size... The team HAS gone 7-2 since his last game, though....
  • LVP hitting Rojas. 28 Ks Jake Lamb had a bad September, too. (I misspelled Lamb’s name as “Jake Lame” in BR and it took me a second to figure out why I didn’t get a result lol It fits.) Before his HR on Friday, he was 5-39 and 10ks. Slashing .128/.255/.154

Dano: MVP definitely goes to Merrill Kelly, I think. Not just for the record and the ERA, but the 33 IP, because good lord, our bullpen was gassed. In terms of that, Mike Leake actually could be the runner-up, with his 31 ⅓ IP.

As for LVP, well. I would have to say Jarrod Dyson, as much as it pains me to do so. Five hits, nine walks, only 2 SB, .366 OPS in what, 60 or so plate appearances? Yeah, no thanks. Best of luck next year.

ISH95: I’ll go with the popular pick and choose Merril Kelly’s strong finish for MVP. LVP, Jake Lamb. He’s been low key one of my favorite Diamondbacks since the minors, but he played his way to being nontendered this month.

Steven: Like others have mentioned, Merrill Kelly was the pitcher of the month, solidifying his spot in the rotation next season. And of course, Ketel Marte was just outstanding before the injury shut him down.

Adam Jones continued to be a negative on the field, with a 39 wRC+ to question why he was even out there in the first place. And for the pitchers, Taylor Clarke didn’t show anything to prove he belongs on an MLB team, like he has all season. You could chalk it up to rookie jitters if you want, I just don’t see the raw stuff that allows him to get batters out consistently.

Turambar: Merrill Kelly finished a solid rookie year in solid fashion. Like many here I had no clue what to think of MK going in to the season and now though I know he won’t set the world on fire I know he’s a contributor. As for LVP I gotta say Lamb. He just kinda...meh’d since he got back from injury and has probably meh’d his way off this team.

Taijuan Walker made a token start in the final game. Do you think he’ll be part of the 2020 Opening Day rotation?

Jack: It’s so hard to say how his arm holds up. If he is healthy, I’m sure he’ll be given every possible chance.

Makakilo: No. Three reasons:

  • Uncertainty about whether he will fully recover his pitching velocity and command after Tommy John surgery and the subsequent shoulder injury.
  • Uncertainty about can he get back “in-the-groove” after his long absence.
  • There are several promising players in the minors who could compete for a rotation spot. My pick for an unexpected player to make the opening day rotation would be Taylor Widener. Based on what he said in interviews, he has specific things he is improving. For that reason, I put little weight on his challenging PCL season. For more possible surprises, see Jack’s Diamondbacks 2020 Rotation Options.

Justin: I think he will compete with others for the 4 and 5 spots. Weaver, Kelly, Leake, Gallen/Young/Walker/FA. But you are missing Ray! No. No I am not. In seriousness, I do think he will be traded, but if not he is the #1 and in that case we will have 4 or 5 guys vying for the 5th starter spot.

Dano: Like Justin and Jack, I’d fully expect that he’ll be competing for a spot. I hope so. Also, small sample size, but he looked good in his one inning of work today.

ISH95: My money says yes. I think he’ll have to earn it, but I like his chances. I don’t think Merril Kelly is a lock for the rotation by any stretch,, Ray could be gone, and who knows how Spring Training will go for the rookies. Enough dominos will fall he makes it in, assuming he is healthy.

Steven: As we’ve seen this year, you’re going to need more starting pitchers than just your Opening Day rotation, so while I don’t think he’ll be a part of the initial rotation, I think he’ll be a consistent force throughout the 2020 season.

Turambar: He’ll get his chances in Spring Training, but as others mentioned nothing is certain, especially after those two injuries. My gut tells me he’ll get starts next season, just likely won’t start the season specifically as a starter.

Predict the World Series teams and result, e.g. Twins over Nats in six.

Jack: I picked Astros over Dodgers at the SABR luncheon. I’ll stick with that.

Makakilo: Astros over Dodgers in six, largely based on odds at 538.com.

Justin:

  • NL I think the Nationals are more likely to challenge the Dodgers, than the Brewers. I still feel like the Dodgers will be in the NLCS. The Braves took the season series against the Cardinals 4-2, and I will think they will be the Dodgers opponent in the NLCS. The Braves lost the season series to the Dodgers, 4-2 but they won the August series. The series they lost was in May when Atlanta had an 18-19 record and was 3 games behind the Phillies. I’ll say the Braves win.
  • AL Houston takes the ALDS regardless of who wins. In the other bracket, Minnesota and the Yankees, who haven’t faced each other since July. Just glancing at the stats on BR, the Yankees SPs seem HR prone, but I think this is the series most likely to go 5 games. The ALCS will be Houston and the Yankees. I’ll say Houston wins.
  • The World Series, I think the winner of the ALCS ends up winning the World Series, so Houston in 6 over either the Braves or Dodgers.

Dano: Astros over Braves. Just guessing here, and going with vague gut feelings. And let’s just say, that the Astros triumph in 5.

ISH95: Astros over Dodgers in six.

Steven: Dodgers over Astros in 5.You can throw tomatoes at me later.

Turambar: National’s over Stros in 7. Why? Why not, it’s baseball and we’ve seen tons of madness to at least suggest it’s possible. Can’t wait for it all to begin though.

Outside of staring out the window and waiting for spring, what are your off-season plans?

Jack: Working on personal health and fitness, hiking & golf. Family activity and hopefully some fun trips. Trying to decide whether to get involved in the Footwear Sourcing Industry again.

Makakilo: Nearly every day, I study mental habits (10 page minimum), exercise, connect with people, and have fun. Friday, I added to my fun when I purchased a used Nissan Leaf (electric car). By driving battery-friendly, I built a tree on its display. It’s incredibly fun to drive.

Justin: Well, I still haven’t gotten to a Tucson Roadrunners game, so that will be a thing I like to do. I am looking forward to the Coyotes season. Last year, they finished 4 points out of the 2nd wildcard (8th seed). They did that will the second most man games lost to injury. We acquired Phil Kessel in the off season. If Kessel were a Coyote last year, he would have led the team in goals, assists, points, GWGs and PPGs. Yeah. Our offense was bad last year, but we got it done.

Non sports, there is a potential that I will be in a different apartment next summer. My lease here ends March 31st, and there is an apartment complex that is really nice and a 10 minute walk from my job....but it is about 150$ more a month for a 1 bedroom. So it’s possible... Over Christmas, my cousin and her new husband (they got married this year) are coming down from CT. It’ll be the first time the Arizona contingent has met him. I’m not really sure there are any other interesting things I have planned.

Dano: Well, I got an offer on my house, and the home inspection takes place first thing tomorrow morning. Assuming that goes well (he typed, knocking frantically on wood while doing so), then it’ll just be packing up the house, finding a new place to move into, and seeing how my life looks once that’s all done. Gonna be an interesting next couple of months, and I have no doubt that, when baseball returns next spring, my life will be very, very different than it has been so far through 2019. I’m very much looking forward to that.

ISH95: The chain of restaurants I work for is opening a new Gilbert location in December. I’ll be transferring over there with a promotion. In addition to that, I just started college finally, so I’ll be doing that through online classes to fill my spare time. All that; plus my karaoke gig should keep me pretty busy, I’d say!

Steven: I recently moved to dreary Seattle for a new job, so I’m just trying to get my bearings before the truly wonderful weather happens. Other than that, trying to stay warm and working on getting a consistent 8 hours of sleep a night.

Turambar: Prepping for my wedding on April, that’s about all I’m caring about for the next few months. It’ll be fun, but it’ll be a ton of work. Hurray adulting!!!

Thanks to all the writers, both staff and guest, for their sterling contributions over the course of this series. The round-tables will continue through the winter, looking back at this year, and forward to 2020, though will probably become rather more intermittent!