At 32-40, .444 W% the Diamondbacks are on pace for a 72-90 season. If they were to finish the season with that record it would be a 20 game improvement over the 52-110 debacle of 2021
Both fans and ownership might consider that the minimum bar to cross to feel like the team is moving in the right direction. This would actually represent better than average improvement compared to teams that were similarly bad as the D-backs were in 2021. Last year I looked at teams that finished with a sub .350 W% over the last 50 years , and how they did in the following three seasons. (The D-backs had a .321 W% last year). On average, in year one those teams improved to a .389 W%, or 63-99. In year two they improved to a .430 W%, or roughly 70-92. So 72-90 would be beating both the year 1 and year 2 average, should they attain that level.
But win-loss record is not the only measure that is being judged by ownership and astute fans. Player development at both the major and minor league level is critical to future of this franchise. It’s imperative that a large chunk of any improvements come as a result of several of their young players developing into above average major leaguers, and even a star level break out or two.
So lets take a look at the two facets that will likely determine the direction that the franchise takes in both the short and long term.
W-L Record and the Remaining Schedule
As mentioned above, the team is “on pace” for a 72-90 season. They are just finishing up a stretch where they were supposed to get healthy against mostly softer competition. But the opposite has happened, as they’ve gone 7-14 in June with very few games against teams over .500
It gets A LOT harder from here. Fully two thirds of their remaining games are against teams with a record over .500.
Remaining Games Broken out by over/under .500 Opponents
Remaining Games, sorted by Weighted W%
Based on what you see here, how many games do you now think the D-backs will win in 2022 ? Here is the pre season predictions thread for your review if you need it.
How many games will the D-backs win in 2022
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69 or fewer
70 to 74
75 or more
YOUNG POSITION PLAYER DEVELOPMENT
Daulton Varsho had a 103 OPS+ last season thanks to a strong second half. On May 24th he had an OPS to .827. Perhaps it was due to the rigors of being pressed into more catcher innings while filling in for the injured Carson Kelly, but since May 26th Varsho is just 15 for 86, .174, with just 3 doubles, 1 homer and a .470 OPS. That’s dropped his season OPS+ to just 98. That’s right at his career average now, as through 697 PA he has a 97 Career OPS+
Pavin Smith’s struggles have been oft discussed and well documented. His season line of .192/.277/.351, .628 OPS, 78 OPS+ is an abject failure on the part of both the player and the revamped coaching staff trying to help him get untracked. Nothing is working. Smith is now up to 824 career PA and down to just a 93 career OPS+. The “B” word is looming once again.
Carson Kelly is still only 27 years old, but since 2020 he has just a 79 OPS+ in 581 PA and is currently enduring the worst stretch of his career, batting .115/.161/.138, .299 OPS in 93 PA. While injury disruption has likely been the main cause for his struggles, the fact is Carson is getting expensive and will be a free agent in 2025. There is precious little time for the D-backs to get value out of him.
Josh Rojas is 28 years old and has been mired in a slump as well, seeing his OPS+ drop to 99. He was at 104 last year. He has 4 homers, all 4 coming on the road, three on a windy day in Chicago.
And then you have Ketel Marte. Still young at 28 years old, he is not having the type of season one would hope for. .262/.341/.424 is not a bad slash line for a starting player in 2022, in fact it adds up to a 117 OPS+. But just four home runs, 22 RBI, well below average defense have all added up to just 1.1 WAR. Not what you are expecting from your star player you just gave a $50M extension.
Geraldo Perdomo is only 22, and it’s hard to say what they have in him. But his OPS+ in 224 PA is just 74 despite good plate discipline and his fielding metrics are trending negative.
I saved the best for last. Alek Thomas is having a very good rookie season so far, with an OPS+ of 117 and excellent CF defense adding up to 1.4 WAR in 161 PA. It’s early days, but so far he is one of the biggest success for player development.
Through the first 30 games of the season the starting pitchers had an ERA of 2.32 and ranked 2nd in MLB. Pitching coach Brent Strom was lauded as a miracle worker. Over the next 42 games SP ERA has doubled to 5.61. Regression is a harsh mistress. Notably, Reliever ERA has actually improved to middle of the pack over these last 42 G and pulled dead even in ERA for the year with the starters.
Full Season Numbers and ranks
Despite the increased ERA of late from the rotation, at least the veterans have been healthy and giving the team innings, and Zac Gallen has certainly improved from last year, even if he’s not quite in CY Young contention. But the most notable thing about the D-backs pitching staff is there are no draft class or international free agent success stories at the MLB level, either in the rotation or in the bullpen. And once again, Mike Hazen’s veteran reliever free agent signings are not working out, a pattern that has persisted for far too long.
The pitching prospects in the minors, SEE LIST , are not getting promoted quickly. I’m sure the team has their reasons for that. Patience is a virtue not many of us fans are blessed with. But it usually a couple of years after first promotion to build pitchers up to be able to make 30 starts in the majors or become reliable back end bullpen options. Very few if any are getting the chance in the majors as of yet. Be sure to look at the ages of those pitchers on the list linked above. A lot of 24 year olds firing off their limited bullets in the minor leagues.
Has the pace of player development met your expectations ?
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Fallen Short of Expectations
Based on the team’s current record and trajectory, and the schedule going forward, it’s going to be a tall ask to maintain or improve upon the 72 win pace. At the same time we have not yet seen a lot of success from the youth movement. There has been sporadic positives on the position player side, but not a lot, and virtually none at all from the pitching side.
How much more patience will ownership have ?