The 2012 Diamondbacks, (81-81 3rd in NL West, 86-76 Pythagorean W-L) were a frustrating, underperforming, disappointing team. Coming off a surprise division title in 2011, a talented squad took the field in 2012. They were never able to get truly untracked however. An early season injury to Daniel Hudson put a dent in the rotation, as did a serious bout of regression for Ian Kennedy. Off season trade acquisition and today’s starter Trevor Cahill had a decent slightly above average season. (108 ERA+, 2.2 bWAR) But he was uneven and inconsistent.
On offense they posted a team OPS+ of 99, which was well above NL average of 94. This despite 2011 All Star Justin Upton playing through a power sapping thumb injury that he suffered in the 3rd game of the season. He did manage to play in 150 games, hitting 17 HR and posting a 110 OPS+. But it was a far cry from his 2011 breakout and the disappointing year lead to him being traded in the off season. (He would go on to AVERAGE 30 HR and a 123 OPS+ over the next 6 seasons)
Despite Upton’s issues, Aaron Hill (133 OPS+), Paul Goldschmidt (126 OPS+) Miguel Montero (120 OPS+) and Jason Kubel (120 OPS+) provided a core of hitters that propelled the team to 734 runs scored, 4th best in the NL.
It wasn’t that they couldn’t score runs….it was WHEN they scored them. As a team they really struggled late in close games
- Hitters ranked 15th in 2012 NL Late & Close
- Pitchers ranked 8th in 2012 NL Late & Close
This was in stark contrast to the 2011 team, which ranked 1st in NL Late and Close
It was a good reminder of the random nature of situational hitting, as many of the players in 2011 were the same guys as 2012. But “clutch” performance is not static. A player who performs well in high leverage situations one-year can easily fail the next, and vice versa.
All this led to a 15-27 record in one run ballgames, compared to the 28-16 record of the 2011 team. That wasn’t the bullpen’s fault either, as JJ Putz, David Hernandez & Brad Ziegler formed an effective late inning pen. But for whatever reasons they couldn’t win enough of the close ones and went through most of the season within just a few games of .500. What might have been. Le Sigh…..
With the groundball specialist Cahill getting the start for this matchup, manager Kirk Gibson decided to go with defensive wiz John McDonald at shortstop, and plus defender Ryan Roberts at third. Perhaps Willie Bloomquist or Chris Johnson can provide some offense off the bench if needed. Left-handed Gerardo Parra spells Chris Young for this game as well.
That’s because the 2017 squad will roll with ace Zack Greinke. Zack finished the regular season with a 17-7 record, 147 ERA+, and 5.7 bWAR. It was exactly the type of season Ken Kendrick envisioned when he gave out a then record $206 M, 6-year contract prior to the 2016 season.
With a 93-69 record in 2017, the D-backs managed to take the first wild card spot, winning a thrilling do or die game against the Colorado Rockies to gain entry into the NLDS against the Dodgers. Through June 27 the D-backs were 50-28, just 1.5 games back of LA. But the Dodgers went on a historic run to pull away and win the division by 11 games. The D-backs were swept in that series as the pitching faltered and they just didn’t have the firepower to keep up with the hated men in blue.
Still it was a great year. In addition to Greinke, Robbie Ray had his best season to date, posting a 15-5 record and a 163 ERA+. The lowest ERA+ of any starter came from Patrick Corbin, but that was still good for 116 over 189 innings pitched. Taijuan Walker (135 ERA+) and Zack Godley (139 ERA+) rounded out if not the best certainly the deepest rotations in the majors.
The bullpen featured set up man extraordinaire Archie Bradley, who posted a 1.73 ERA in 73 innings and of course hit the triple heard round the valley in the aforementioned Wild Card thriller. The closer, Fernando Rodney endured some roller coaster ups and downs during the season, but managed 39 saves and a 112 ERA+ when it was all said and done. It all added up to a team 128 ERA+, the best in franchise history, and 6th best single seasons in MLB since 1998
The offense was led by perennial All Star Paul Goldschmidt, who posted a .297/.404/.563 triple slash, with 36 HR and 120 RBI. Mike Hazen made a mid-season splash by bringing in the top trade deadline hitter available, J.D. Martinez. Nicknamed “Just Dingers” not long after arriving, J.D. put on an incredible power display, hitting 29 homeruns in just 62 games while batting .302 and posting a 1.017 OPS. His season included a 4 Homer Game in Los Angeles. Jake Lamb had 30 HR and 105 RBI, and 7 other players had double digit HR totals as the D-backs led the league in that category with 220.
#13 2012 Arizona Diamondbacks 12, #4 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks 8
The 2017 D-backs should be used to winner-take-all slugfests, but unlike their wild card game, they couldn’t come out on the right side of the result here. The 2012 D-backs pulled out the debut shock in the first round, pounding out 19 hits, Zack Greinke was gone in the fourth, as 2012 took a 9-1 lead. To their credit, they didn’t fold, but the deficit was just too much to overcome. Gerardo Parra had four hits for 2012, and Paul Goldschmidt drove in four runs, including a three-run homer.
It didn’t take long for 2012 to get to Greinke, the top of the first opening with a Parra single, Aaron Hill RBI double, and Miguel Montero RBI single; they were 2-0 up before a batter was retired. An error by Daniel Descalso allowed Justin Upton to reach, opening the second and he came around to score, making it 3-0. A two-run double off the bat of Ryan Roberts in the third made it 5-0, though a single by David Peralta in the bottom of the inning did get 2017 on the board.
Hope was short-live though, as 2012 responded with a four-spot. Montero drove in the first run with a single, and Goldschmidt lined one just fair into the home bullpen to score Montero and Hill. With the score 9-1, that was it for Greinke, who lasted just 3.1 innings, giving up nine runs (eight earned) on 11 hits. He walked none and struck out three, and though it probably comes as little comfort to Zack, he was BABIP’d to death, allowing 10 hits on 17 balls in play.
2017 weren’t quite dead yet, with Ketel Marte smashing a two-run homer in the bottom half of the frame, to make it 9-3. But 2012 got both of those tallies back in the sixth inning, on RBI hits by Hill and Goldschmidt, off reliever Randall Delgado. Their starter, Trevor Cahill, was hardly perfect, but the offense gave him enough room. He left after six innings, allowing four runs on four hits and four walks, with eight strikeouts. Marte drove in the final run Cahill allowed, getting his third RBI for 2017 in the sixth to make it 11-4.
They then made it interesting with a four-run seventh. Brad Bergesen and David Hernandez were each charged with two runs while recording an out apiece, before Brad Ziegler came in and was eventually able to staunch the bleeding. 2012 had the tying run on base, but A.J. Pollock grounded out with the bases loaded and the score 11-8, to end their last, best chance of making a game out of this. A Justin Upton RBI double off Archie Bradley in the eighth added an insurance run and led to the final score of 12-8.
Unsurprisingly, offenses picked up almost all the gold stars on both sides here, the sides combining for 29 hits and nine walks. John McDonald was the only starter for 2012 not to get a hit, and everyone bar he and Jason Kubel got at least two. Bryan Shaw picked up the save with 1.2 scoreless innings, the only pitcher of theirs not to allow a run. For 2017, Goldschmidt reached base four times, on two hits and two walks, and Jake Barrett was their best pitcher, tossing a pair of hitless frames.
Having pulled of the upset, 2012 now await the winner of our next match-up, which will be on Monday (when the the Diamondbacks should have been returning from Mexico City...). That’s going to be the first game for the 2001 World Series champions, who are seeded fifth in this tournament. Wonder who’ll be starting that game? Will it be the Big Unit, or will he be held back for a later match-up? Here, they’ll be facing the 2013 team, who are coming off a 6-0 win in the preliminary round.
Who will win?
This poll is closed