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Let’s Predict Diamondbacks with Best Stats in 2021

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Make your prediction known!

Bob Uecker looks at stats.
Bob Uecker looks at stats.
Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Let’s focus on a few statistics we can watch as the season unfolds. And the question is, “Which Diamondback will lead the team in each of those statistics?”

Please share your opinions/predictions in the comment section. Over the next week, players from the comment section will be added to the chart. These stats will be tracked over the season. Who will have bragging rights at the end of the season?

If a player is traded away, he will continue to be tracked through the end of the season. Some statistics are per plate appearance to even the playing field for players who get less playing time. It would be delightful if a few rookies and prospects step into into the spotlight.

The list of statistics follows. The statistics are organized into 4 groups: batting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning.

Makakilo

Spoiler Alert: Information on players who might lead follows. It’s possible that many readers will want to make their predictions before reading further.

Peralta and Lovullo congratulate Escobar.
Peralta and Lovullo congratulate Escobar.
Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Before we talk about specific players, let’s look at the bigger picture. Jack Sommers’ excellent AZ Snake Pit article is a great place to start.

FanGraphs’ depth chart projection is that the Diamondbacks’ runs scored per game (RS/G) increases from 4.48 to 4.65. My opinion is that the increase will be larger - a half run increase to 4.98 RS/G, which would nearly match the Diamondbacks’ 2019 season. A caveat is that the “deadened baseball” may tell a different story.

FanGraphs’ depth chart projection is that the Diamondbacks’ runs allowed per game (RA/G) increases from 4.91 to 5.1. My opinion differs significantly.

  • Rotation. Gone is Robbie Ray with his 7.84 ERA. I am confident we will see significantly better results from Madison Bumgarner (6.48 ERA) and Luke Weaver (6.58 ERA).
  • Bullpen. Last season, the bullpen’s 1.38 homers per 9 innings was the highest by any Diamondback team per Jim McLennan’s AZ Snake Pit article. This season will improve for three reasons: Gone is Hector Rondon with his 7.65 ERA and 6 homers allowed (20 innings in 2020). Added is Joakim Soria with 1 homer allowed (22.1 innings in 2020). The “deadened baseball” will reduce homers.

Those changes will likely reduce the Diamondbacks’ RA/G to 4. Let’s look at specific players.

Zac Gallen.

“For 2021, ZiPS projects Gallen to be the best pitcher on Arizona’s pitching staff, and the only pitcher projected with an era below 4.” — Wesley Baier AZ Snake Pit article

In 2020, he won the AZ Snake Pit’s Pitcher of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards. Although he has potential to lead the team in all pitching statistics, his strengths are K%, whiff%, FIP, and Homers allowed per PA.

Kole Calhoun.

“Calhoun also provided some big hits and always seemed to be the guy at the plate when the team needed that big hit.” — Michael McDermott AZ Snake Pit article

In 2020, Kole Calhoun’s 11.8% barrels was a career high. FanGraphs’ depth chart projection is for him to lead the team in homers per PA. Very likely, he will lead the team in homers and perhaps OPS, too.

Christian Walker.

Fierce & tough, prepared & confident, aware, and skilled.” — Makakilo AZ Snake Pit article.

In 2020, his 48.5% hard hits showed he is a power hitter. FanGraphs’ depth chart projection places him very closely behind Calhoun in homers per PA. And his gold glove nomination in 2019 was well earned. Those facts make him a double threat - he might lead the team in homers per plate appearance and and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Sometimes overlooked is that in 2018 his 18 doubles ranked third in the NL, another statistic he could lead.

Merrill Kelly.

“He was the shot in the arm the team needed - until he wasn’t anymore.” — James Attwood AZ Snake Pit article

Eno Sarris ranked Kelly’s command at 116, just one point behind Gallen. Assuming a successful recovery from thoracic outlet surgery, Kelly’s excellent command means he might lead the team with the lowest BB%.

Ketel Marte.

“…he took an even larger leap in 2019, smashing 32 homers and the team experimented him in CF, which was a huge success. He ended the season with 7.1 WAR, an All-Star appearance[at second base], and to top it off, a 4th place finish in the MVP race.” — Steven Burt AZ Snake Pit article

Like Christian Walker, he could be a double threat.

In 2019, he was an All-Star at second base. In 2018 and 2020, his double plays at second ranked in the top 5 in the NL. In 2020, his 4 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) led the Diamondbacks. If he plays at second base, he might lead the team in double plays and DRS.

In 2018, he led the NL in triples. In 2019 and 2020, he was in the top ten in the NL. His 29 career triples ranked 37th among active players. Therefore, in 2021 he might lead the team in triples.

FanGraphs’ depth chart projection is for him to lead the team in doubles and triples, OPS, and hits per plate appearance.

Tim Locastro.

“But of course, it’s in stolen bases that Locastro stands on the edge of greatness. He is now 26-0 there to start his major-league career.” — Jim McLennan AZ Snake Pit article

Clearly, he might lead the team in stolen bases and extra bases taken. The list of statistics did not include most hit by pitches, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

In 2020, he won the AZ Snake Pit’s Unsung Hero award. And his excellent performance went beyond speed. Let’s look at two statistics:

  • As befits an unsung hero, in 2020 he led the team with .370 wOBA. Therefore, he might again lead the team in wOBA.
  • In 2020, his .859 OPS was bested only by Kole Calhouns’ .864. So his OPS could lead the team.

Stefan Crichton.

“His final season numbers ended up being a 2.42 ERA over 23 innings with 5 saves and a .279 wOBA against.” — Michael McDermott AZ Snake Pit article

With the arrival of Joakim Soria, Crichton’s chances of leading the team in saves depends who will be the closer. Hazen is considering “a small handful” of players for the closer role. Crichton showed he could do well as a closer at the end of last season.

In addition, Crichton is one of three pitchers who could likely contend for the lead in wOBA against.

David Peralta.

“2020 was a good season for Peralta, and it was arguably his third best season of his career. He wasn’t the offensive force he was in 2018 with 30 home runs, but he still put up a respectable slash line of .300/.339/.433. That batting average was both the second best on the team this season, behind only Starling Marte who, of course, departed at the deadline, as well the second best of his career.” — Imstillhungry95 AZ Snake Pit article

That Peralta hits triples is shown by the following:

Dbacks hitters top 20 all time triples leaders. Stephen Drew way out in front with 52, Womack 37, Peralta 36, Finley 34” — Jack Sommers

There are three stats that Peralta could lead the team in 2021:

  • In 2020, his .361 BABIP was the highest on the team (50 minimum PAs).
  • In 2020, his .28 hits per PA was the highest on the team. This season, FanGraph’s depth chart projection places him very closely behind Ketel Marte for hits per PA.
  • He ranked third Dbacks hitter in all time triples.

Nick Ahmed.

“While there is no denying that Ahmed’s defense in the early-going did not pass the eye test of being elite, his defense improved as the season wore on. By the end of the season, he was once again making the sorts of plays he was known for.” — James Attwood AZ Snake Pit article

Defense at shortstop, a high value position, is his strength. In 2020, his 3 DRS was just behind Ketel Marte’s 4 DRS. Ahmed could lead the team in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Outs Above Average (OAA).

Caleb Smith.

“Caleb Smith has star potential that was not in evidence in my previous article about projected ERAs. In 2020, he hugely increased the spin rate on his slider from 2297 rpm to 2526 rpm. As a result, his slider whiff rate increased from 31% to 46.2%. For the Diamondbacks, his overall ERA was 2.45.” — Makakilo AZ Snake Pit article

He could contend to lead in whiff% and ERA. He is one of three pitchers who could likely contend for the lead in wOBA against.

“His 0.11 hits allowed per plate appearance ranked #1 [in the rotation]. The next best was 0.19 (Zac Gallen and Taylor Clarke).” — Makakilo

Very likely, he will lead the team in hits allowed per PA.

Daulton Varsho.

“Over his final 19 games [of 2020], he had fifteen hits, the majority of them for extra-bases. This gave Varsho a line of .234/.338/.484 over that time, for an OPS of .822, giving a nice, positive outcome to take into the winter.” — Jim McLennan AZ Snake Pit article

In 2020 the AZ Snake Pit voted him Rookie of the Year. Regardless of which position he plays, he is on a path to increased playing time. He could contend to lead the team in OPS.

Luke Weaver.

“With continuously improved pitches and thorough preparation, he is ready for success in 2021.” — Makakilo AZ Snake Pit Article

This Makakilo AZ Snake Pit article featured a formula to project that Luke Weaver’s ERA will improve and his ERA could be the lowest in the rotation in 2021. He will be a contender for the lowest ERA on the team.

Eduardo Escobar.

“Ignoring 2020, in 2019 his 29 doubles and 10 triples were an indicator that he is potentially a power hitter, something the Diamondbacks need.” — Makakilo AZ Snake Pit article

Escobar is another player who could be a double threat.

  • Makakilo wrote that Escobar’s hitting could bounce back in 2021. In 2019 his 10 triples ranked first in the NL. In 2018, his 48 doubles ranked first in the Majors. FanGraph’s depth chart projection is for him to be one triple behind Ketel Marte.
  • In 2020, his 87 assists as third baseman ranked 5th in the NL. He could lead the team in assists.

Seth Beer. Matching the ZiPS projection for 2021 would result in .039 Homers per PA, the third highest on the team. He could step into the spotlight as a power hitter.

Joakim Soria. Acquired in the offseason, his chances of leading the team in saves depends who will be the closer. Mike Hazen said Soria “...will have every opportunity to compete for that role...”

Data from Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, FanGraphs, and The Fielding Bible.

Which Diamondbacks will lead for each statistic? Please share your opinions/predictions in the comment section.