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Preview #43: 9/8, Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers

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Tankapalooza update? Don’t mind if we do.

Drawing of an armoured tank, ca 1485 Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Mookie Betts - RF Josh Rojas - SS
Corey Seager - SS Ketel Marte - 2B
A.J. Pollock - DH Christian Walker - 1B
Cody Bellinger - CF Kole Calhoun - RF
Max Muncy - 1B Eduardo Escobar - 3B
Chris Taylor - LF David Peralta - LF
Gavin Lux - 2B Stephen Vogt - DH
Edwin Rios - 3B Daulton Varsho - C
Austin Barnes - C Tim Locastro - CF
Walker Buehler - RHP Luke Weaver - RHP

A lot of change in the Tankapalooza standings since we last checked in. The Pirates are no longer the worst team. That dubious honor now belongs to the Texas Rangers, who have been tanking at a rate even worse than the Diamondbacks, having lost eighteen of their last 21 contests [Arizona are 5-16 over that time]. Having begun 10-9, they are now 13-27, one game ahead of a three-way tie on a .333 W%, between Boston, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. Arizona sit one and a half games further back, currently in line for the fifth pick. With this series coming up against the team with the best record in the entire majors, they may be in line for further losses.

While the D-backs continue to make good progress towards improving their draft order, the above is only providing it’s based on the 2020 standings. That last clause is an important caveat. For the agreement between the owners and players includes this important section: “In the event that each Club plays less than 81 regular season games in 2020, the Office of the Commissioner shall have the right, after conferring in good faith with the MLBPA, to modify the Draft order.” While nothing has been decided - and probably nothing will be until after this season is in the books - one suggestion has been to use the combined 2019-2020 win percentages to determine the draft order.

If that is done, the D-backs would be considerably hurt by their 85-win campaign last year. Indeed, right now, they are only four games below .500, across the two seasons combined. They would get the sixteenth pick, with #1 instead going to the Detroit Tigers, who are 65-135. and six games “ahead” of the next-worst Royals. Other possible suggestions involve averaging win percentages, or even going the NBA route and using a draft lottery. However, for me, if sixty games is considered sufficient to determine which teams are playoff-worthy, then surely sixty games should also be considered sufficient to determine who gets the #1 pick. #TankForKumar

Pre-game audio from Torey Lovullo

Youth Baseball: Jody Jackson gave a plug for supporting Youth Baseball. Tonight is a broadcast fundraiser to help get youth baseball back on its feet. Please consider helping out if you are able.

Kevin Ginkel: He’s likely to go back to him the next save opportunity. It appears that Ginkel is getting the shot to hold on to the role, although he will still let the situation dictate whether or not he needs to be used earlier in games or non-save situations. Last year’s success has played a big factor in why they were willing to let him work through his struggles early this year.

Josh Rojas: Starting at Shortstop tonight. Torey said he didn’t have the greatest summer camp. He struggled to get his swing plane and timing going. That obviously played into why he didn’t get called up to play until September 2nd. But they want to see what he can do and give the team evaluators a chance to see him. Torey went on to say, “I don’t think that (the poor summer camp) was an indication of what he could do, I think last year was a very strong indication of what he can offer us”

Jack’s Note: Rojas played in 41 of the team’s final 43 games last year receiving 157 PA. So he got a pretty solid look, playing every day for 6 weeks. The results
.217/.312/.312, .624 OPS, 2HR. 18 BB, 41 K’s (26%)
He’s started 6 games in a row since September 2nd. He’s 3 for 21, (.143) with 3 walks and 10 K’s including 6 in his last 12 PA.

League Trends: Torey believes offenses will start to adjust and figure out how to hit secondary stuff for higher contact rates in the future as it’s an adjustment league. But lifting the baseball and slugging is still going to be dominant.

Jack’s Note: Batting avg is only 2 points below 2018 and if you look from August 1 onwards it’s the same, .248. Full season Runs per game is the 2nd highest since 2007, and OPS is the 4th highest in that 14-year time frame. I’m not seeing any incentive for teams to change their approach as they are scoring more runs than both recent and historical average.

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