In this AZ Snake Pit Article, I wrote about what I wanted to see in the second half of the season. In summary, this is what I looked for:
- Additional core starting pitcher (Corbin Martin, Tommy Henry, or Ryne Nelson).
- Corbin Carroll debut in the Majors.
- Additional position with excellent defense.
- Breakout seasons from three players (David Peralta, Daulton Varsho, and Zac Gallen).
- Improvement in two statistics (fewer runners left in scoring position, and fewer balls in play per swing by opposing batters).
Almost everything on the list happened! That’s why The Diamondbacks were amazing!
Additional starting pitcher (Corbin Martin, Tommy Henry, or Ryne Nelson).
I wanted to see an additional starting pitcher. I named three possibilities. Instead of one, I saw all three make debuts! All three had some level success. In addition, one starting pitcher whom I did not name, Drey Jameson, made his debut.
Due to right Scapula inflammation, Ryne Nelson made just three starts in September. His 63.5 average game score was the highest on the Diamondbacks. His fastball was awesome - its’ 94.8 MPH average velocity was 71st percentile in the Majors. He is the youngest pitcher of the three pitchers I wanted to see.
“He can climb up there in the 96-97 mile-an-hour range. We don’t necessarily have that. But it’s the way he’s commanding the baseball that stands out to me more than anything. It’s not just the plain ol’ velo. Look, I’m a velo junkie. I love it. When we’ve got it, I want to use it. But he’s using it the right way.” — Torey Lovullo, September 2022
Tommy Henry made 9 starts in the Majors. Three were “game-score wins” with game scores above 60, and three were game score losses with game scores below 40. My view is that with experience he will keep improving to earn a spot in the rotation.
“It was good to see what Tommy was able to do against a very experienced right-handed-hitting lineup. Really gave us a chance to stay in this ballgame. So, when we talk about our young players growing up and maturing and getting that experience, this was a good day for Tommy.” — Torey Lovullo, August 2022
In July, after the All-Star break Corbin Martin made 2 starts in the Majors. During those starts, his fastball had an average velocity of 93.5 MPH. On 31 August, an unspecified injury prevented him from the possibility of more starts in September.
“He’s got to be able to put some secondary stuff on the plate and mix in that fastball. He’s got real good stuff, it’s just a matter of being consistent with all pitches, and that wasn’t the case.” — Torey Lovullo, July 2022
Corbin Carroll debut in the Majors.
It’s likely that Corbin Carroll will be a huge part of an emerging excellence in the Diamondbacks’ outfield.
He was called up at his 22nd birthday. He performed well at everything. In his first 32 games he was awesome at batting (133 OPS+), as a baserunner (he took an extra base in 86% of his opportunities), and defense (3 DRS in left field and 1 DRS in center field).
Additional position with excellent defense.
The Diamondbacks finished the season with 56 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), ranking sixth highest in the Majors. At the All-Star break, Diamondbacks were excellent defenders at first base, center field, and pitcher.
I wanted to see excellent defense in an additional position. An additional position was right field, with 15 DRS ranking second best in the Majors. Also, worth noting is that after the All-Star break Geraldo Perdomo added positive 4 DRS playing shortstop.
Breakout seasons from three players (David Peralta, Daulton Varsho, and Zac Gallen).
“Two out of three ain’t bad.” Although Joe Maddon said those same words, he referred to winning 3-game series; I refer to season breakout performances.
David Peralta was traded away. He did not achieve a breakout. One example is that his OPS fell from .745 to .710. This was my one disappointment after the All-Star break.
Daulton Varsho broke out. As a batter, his OPS rose from .708 to .793. He was impressive in outfield defense: for the season he earned 14 DRS in right field, 5 DRS in center field, and 4 DRS in left field. As a baserunner, he took an extra base in 51% of his opportunities. And significantly, he added value with his position versatility as a backup catcher.
On 9 September in the fifth inning against the Rockies, each of the first 9 batters scored before an out happened. As the ninth batter in that inning, Daulton Varsho’s grand slam was an important part of history. Until that inning, the Diamondbacks had never accomplished that feat.
In addition, Daulton Varsho won the eighth annual Luis Gonzalez award, which is given to the D-backs player who best exemplifies the talents, spirit and heart of the D-backs legend both on and off the field. In past years, Paul Goldschmidt won the award three times!
Zac Gallen broke out. Compared to the first half of the season, his OPS allowed improved from .657 to .448; his ERA improved from 3.56 to 1.47. His streak of 44.1 scoreless innings was historic (the longest in Diamondback history and seventh longest in MLB history). His streak added excitement to watching his starts. And he is competitive for the Cy Young award. He ranked #1 in two notable statistics:
- This season he kept batters from reaching base. His .913 hits plus walks per inning pitched, ranked #1 in NL for the season (Baseball Reference leaderboard minimums).
- In September he had the best results when he reached two strikes. His .145 wOBA ranked #1 in the NL (75 PA min, data from Baseball Savant).
Some additional impressive statistics follow:
- His 2.54 ERA, ranked #4 in the NL for the season (Baseball Reference leaderboard minimums).
- He pitched well in high leverage situations. His 3.8 situational wins saved (WPA/LI), ranked #3 in NL for the season (Baseball Reference leaderboard minimums).
- In September, when he reached two strikes he often struck out batters. His .539 SO/PA ranked #3 in the NL (75 PA min, data from Baseball Savant).
Improvement in two statistics (fewer runners left in scoring position, and fewer balls in play per swing by opposing batters).
In the second half, the Diamondback batters left fewer runners in scoring position (3.39 runners per game improved to 3.20 runners per game per Team Rankings.com). This improvement was very welcome because stranding runners in scoring position is frustrating.
In the second half, the balls in play per swing by opposing batters changed from .386 to .380 (data from Baseball Reference). Although seeing a small improvement was good, I hope next season sees a bigger improvement.
Except for lacking a breakout season by David Peralta, everything happened that I wanted to see! I saw three starting pitchers with successful debuts; I saw Corbin Carroll’s impressive debut; I saw arguably the best defense in the Majors; I saw breakout seasons from Daulton Varsho and Zac Gallen; I saw two statistics improve.
What I saw was truly amazing! Although my enthusiasm was dampened by not reaching the playoffs, my confidence is high in the following: The Diamondbacks were amazing after the All-Star break.