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SnakePit Round Table: All-Star Edition

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

If you are interested in taking part in a round table as a guest, along side the regular writers like MrRbi17, just answer one or more of this week’s questions in the comments. I’ll select one respondee, and send them the questions so they can join in next weekend!

Who should be Arizona’s All-Star representative?

MrRbi17: It’s kind of sad that we have to search far and wide to find a deserving All-Star representative. I had called for Zac Gallen, of late he has not had the best of luck out there. He has 1.0 WAR and a 3.62 ERA with a W-L of 4-2. Walker, OTOH, has 2.9 WAR, and is playing sterling defense to go along with his 21 HR’s. So I will go with Walker.

Makakilo: Christian Walker for the following reasons (data through 7 July):

  • His 21 home runs ranks best of the Diamondbacks. His .063 HR/PA is All-Star Level. He sustained his high pace of homers that was noted in this AZ Snake Pit article posted on 3 May.
  • Best swing of the Diamondbacks. For details see this AZ Snake Pit article posted 28 June.
  • Best WAR of the Diamondbacks with 2.1 WARf (FanGraphs) and 2.9 WARb (Baseball Reference).
  • His 12 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at first base ranks best in the Majors.
  • His 8 Outs Above Average (OAA) at first base ranks best in the Majors. He is on pace to equal the 16 OAA he earned in 2019, his Gold Glove nomination season.
  • His 3.5 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 innings (UZR/150) is better than the 2.6 UZR/150 that he earned in 2019, his Gold Glove season.
  • With his 3 errors in 603 opportunities, he is on-track for a Gold Glove nomination performance.

ISH95: There are a few choices that wouldn’t be terrible, but at the same time, none that are blindingly obvious either. Christian Walker probably deserves more attention than he’s getting. Gallen is still the most likely candidate I think. Kelly and Mantiply both are dark horse candidates. Really though, this team is incredibly average on their best days and hardly being to mind the term “all-star”

DBacksEurope: If you say SHOULD, then my opinion is that both Gallen and Marte should have been two obvious and no doubt ASG candidates. That they are not tells us that the Diamondbacks are not on track for their supposed WS contention in 2024/25/26 or whatever year we believe our core will be strong enough.

Both are probably still one of the better players on this roster so they might go, but if we have to dig deep into the tunnel to finally see some light in the performances of Walker and/or Mantiply and find argumentation to send them, I will go with David Peralta because MLB is allowing sentimental picks as well. David has reinvented himself a bit at the plate and always shows great love for the US so why not pick him?

Spencer: I’m sticking with Mantiply. He’s gotten a little worse as summer hit, but he’s still having an undoubtedly impressive season. No one else on the team can say that in a good way (Walker is having an impressively bad BABIP season, so kudos there!). Walker should be invited to the Home Run Derby, Mantiply the All Star Game and I will not watch either, per my own tradition.

Dano: I think I’m with Spencer on this. And I will confess, I’m totally gonna watch the home run derby. It’s stupid, and the broadcast is always comically terrible, but I find it amusing and diverting, which will be nice. Not gonna watch the ASG at all.

Wesley: Christian Walker or Mantiply are good answers.

Jack: Merrill Kelly has been far and away the team’s best, most consistent, and valuable pitcher in 2022. So if they are sending a pitcher, it’s got to be him.

James: The player that should be going is Christian Walker. I’m not sure that actually happens though, not with as deep as first base is. Although, with the DH around, I could see some 1Bs being taken to serve as ASG DH.

Dallas Keuchel’s third start was much better. Flash in the pan, or is he fixed?

Makakilo: He should stay in the rotation because of his continued improvement (not yet completely fixed). I was favorably impressed by three things.

  • In his 25 pitch first inning, he allowed 2 earned runs. In the next inning his feathers were unruffled as he pitched with confidence.
  • Great were innings 2 through 7 when he allowed 3 singles, 1 double, and no walks. His average of 12 pitches per inning was pitch efficient. His ERA for those six innings was 1.5. Better than great was he pitched through the entire batting order a third time, allowing only 1 single. Very impressive!
  • Great were his 42 sinkers with one strikeout and only 2 hits (single and double). Better than great were his 12 sliders with two strikeouts and zero balls in play. This season, his sliders’ .286 xwOBA and .397 wOBA are much improved compared to last season.

ISH95: Flash in the pan until proven otherwise. I mean, sure, his ERA is under 8 again, but that’s still the best you can say about him.

DBacksEurope: His FIP is 3.29 so that would seem to indicate he is one of the better pitchers on this team. But just 3 starts so far, so we cannot really make any useful conclusion. He went 7.0 innings the other day which feels like a complete game nowadays with all these throwers that cannot complete more than 5. But he faced the Rockies and Tigers, so he hasn’t been really tested so far. Big shoutout and thumbs up to Makakilo who wrote an article on Keuchel and provides more insights now. I think Makakilo writes things on this blog many of us wouldn’t dare to write and I’m happy to see his positive attitude towards Keuchel is getting some early confirmation. Ah, but the question is fixed or flash in the plan, you say? I will go with fixed. His ERA will eventually drop below 5.00 and that means he is a starter on this team.

Spencer: Flash-in-the-Pan. But Gilbert pitched fairly well in 2021 after his flash-in-the-pan No Hitter, so I say keep Keuchel around until he has two stinkers in a row or a team is willing to give us literally anything for him in a trade (lolz White Sox). But I don’t buy him as fixed. He can claim using strategy to avoid the strike zone and induce swings and misses all he wants; I still feel like he’s making lemonade out of a situation where he can’t actually control where the ball is going anymore (and he’s getting lucky against bad lineups).

This is the same pitcher who benefited from a patch of dirt so soggy in Houston that the umps made the grounds crew come dry it off once (the assumption being the Astros were intentionally attempting to stop any ball hit on the ground immediately because he was an extreme groundball guy…). Against the D’Backs no less! He will never get my benefit of the doubt and I am ok with that. Sometimes you just have to be a little irrational.

Dano: I think it’s a little from Column A and a little from Column B, which is really me saying that, while I don’t think he’s anywhere near fixed, I was impressed with his most recent start (leaving out that unfortunate first inning). I think he’s demonstrated that he’s fixable, which is heartening. We’ll see, of course, what the limit is on that, and how far he gets toward that limit. It’s entirely possible that the wheels completely come off for him again sometime in his next couple of starts. Here’s hoping they don’t.

Jack: Lets see how he does when he faces some better lineups. He’s faced weak lineups so far and gotten a soft landing as a result.

James: Father Time remains undefeated and, as Jack points out, Keuchel has faced mostly weak opposition. I’m going with flash-in-the-pan. I expect him to get slapped around the yard once he faces a strong lineup, especially if it is a patient one.

MrRbi17: Hard to say. Keuchel is 34, has been bounced around both leagues, and his stats don’t exactly fly off the page. If he is to be a contributor, it will have to be as the “crafty lefty” with help from Brent Strom. I’ll go with flash in the pan.

The World Baseball Classic returns to Chase next year. How interested will you be?

Makakilo: One point of interest: The United States Team is the defending champion from 2017, and they will play first round games at Chase.

Another point of interest are the rules for the first round games which will be played at four locations (Chase, Miami Florida, Taichung Taiwan, and Tokyo Japan).

  • Starting the 11th inning, each inning will start with runners on first base AND second base.
  • Pitch count limit for first round games: When a pitcher reaches 65 pitches, that is his last batter.
  • Run differential is a tie-breaker in case of ties.
  • Relievers can’t pitch three consecutive days.
  • Mercy rules (15 runs after 5 or 6 innings, 10 runs after 7 or 8 innings).

ISH95: I’ll be honest, this is the first I’m hearing about it. I was disappointed I wasn’t able to make it to any of the games last time, so I’m definitely going to this time.

DBacksEurope: very interested and I hope you will be too. I will probably write a short article on it if no one beats me to it. You guys will get to see the US, Colombia, Mexico and Canada. Then one of probably Nicaragua, Panama, Spain or Czech Republic. Just like in any other major tournament, group stages will normally be more of a warming up for the tournament favourites and a battle for the weaker teams. So as long as you are aware of this, you will not be disappointed by the on-field play (but you’ve been watching the Diamondbacks in 2021 so I don’t believe you are accustomed to top quality baseball).

Group D, however, will be the most interesting group to watch with the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Israel (who will probably field an all American team) and in next Monday’s bytes I will provide a link to an article that gives some information on the different groups. Maybe to the American public the WBC isn’t that interesting but for most players it is an honour to represent your country. In my article on Jerry Gil I took a quote from him that says a bit on how these players feel. Especially Latin-American players take a lot of pride and will play tough baseball.

Spencer: I tangentially follow the WBC. It’s cool, but life always seems to get in the way. As for it being at Chase? That’s cool. If I can swing it, I’ll try to visit then and attend a game in person, but that seems unlikely already. If I am not in Phoenix, I probably won’t catch a single inning of a game played there, not gonna lie.

Dano: It seems unlikely that I’m gonna get up to Chase anytime soon, and I sincerely doubt that I’ll make a trip specifically for a WBC game. That said, I kind of enjoy the WBC every time it rolls around. I don’t and won’t pay terribly close attention to it, I’m certain, but I’ll watch some games and find some random country to root for as the tournament develops, like I always do.

Jack: I’m really looking forward to watching these games. The players have so much passion playing for their countries.

James: While I wish the WBC was more engaged with MLB talent, it still is one of my favourite sporting events. It’s a shame it isn’t taken nearly as seriously as other sports take their world tournaments. I no longer live close enough to Chase to take advantage of the place being a host stadium, but I will be tuning in to watch as much as I can.

MrRbi17: The WBC is a cool event. I will follow the scores and watch a little on TV. If possible, I would like to see a game in person, say US vs Mexico. That should be a dandy.

Who was Arizona’s first-half MVP?

Makakilo: After much consideration of

  • Joe Mantiply for his 88% got-the-job done and his historic 33 game walk-less streak (ranking 7th for all-time pitchers, ranking 4th for pitchers in their 30s, and ranking 1st for left handed pitchers).
  • Daulton Varsho for the added intangible value of playing catcher and outfield.
  • Geraldo Perdomo for stepping up to play shortstop.

Christian Walker was my choice.

ISH95: I’m going to say Dalton Varsho. He’s been solid offensively, invaluable defensively. With him being able to play center for the first couple of months, then switching to catcher when Kelly went down, in my opinion, it probably kept a not great season from becoming terrible.

DBacksEurope: Normally I’d say no one, but if writers start to mention Bumgarner as a possible trade target then I guess we are getting some value out of him nowadays, which, in these times of dark D-Backs baseball, is vital. Maybe we can offload him somewhere (and immediately hand out a new stupid contract with lots of money to a player who won’t perform).

Spencer: David Peralta. He’s been aging and bordering on completely ineffective for a couple years now, yet he’s having a resurgence and remained healthy. He’s the undisputed player-leader on the team, and he’s the perfect choice for that given the youth coming up and surrounding him; half of them are cast-offs in their own right trying to keep their spot on the roster, and the others haven’t really experienced true hardship and need the reminder of what can happen. I’ll be very sad to see him play in another uniform (even though I am 100% behind a deal if only to open an outfield spot for someone like Fletcher/Canzone/McCarthy to get a chance, not to mention David a shot at a ring).

Dano: I suppose it depends on how we define “value” in the context of this season. Given that this season is mainly about getting at least some of our young guys acclimated to playing at the Major League level and transitioning young talent from Reno to Chase. Guys who are helping us win ball games are, in this calculation, not all that important overall. I mean, it’s nice to win ball games and all, but I’m not sure that’s really the point in 2022. Given that we don’t have a lot in the way of veteran leaders either on our pitching staff or in the dugout, I am once again going with Spencer’s suggestion of David Peralta, for all the reasons he mentions.

Jack: Christian Walker leads the team in WAR, and is second in oWAR. He has become a leader in the clubhouse. He works harder than anyone on the team. ANYONE.

James: I’m probably going to have to agree with Jack on this one too, it’s Christian Walker. Although, I don’t think it is by a wide margin. Daulton Varsho is a very close second and might even have won my vote if not for the long slump he had going until about two weeks ago.

MrRbi17: Jack and I are on the same page here. While Mantiply has been amazing, and Varsho, M. Kelly, and others have certainly contributed, I will go with Walker as the MVP to date.

Who was their LEAST Valuable Player?

Jack: Jim, this is a trick question, right ? ;)

ISH95: Melancon is the easy choice. I believe that he now holds the record for losses in a season by a Diamondback reliever after the loss to the Rockies on Friday. He also makes up like 98% of the payroll for the bullpen. Dishonorable mentions to Carson Kelly for not being able to hit out of a wet paper bag and Ketel Marte for failing on every level to be the superstar he was supposed to be.

DBacksEurope: Carson Kelly. Injured most of the time and the bat is unsustainable. Maybe Jim is right in his hopes of Friday’s performance and he turns a corner, but I don’t think so. Remember we ran out with pitch forks when Alex Avila was hitting below the Uecker line? How we have changed our expectations. I notice myself watching the season average BA stats after each game and believe that if the player at least hits right above .200 then all is “well”.

Spencer: Too many to choose from… I will assume we mean regular players and not borderline fill-in types like the majority of bullpen, because then you could just pick a name and move on. So in that vein of thought, I choose Ketel Marte. He once wanted to be a Gold Glove winning Second Baseman, yet now that he is finally back at that position, he seems unwilling to work on his defense, rendering him replaceable late in close games. He’s getting paid for years now and that makes him a leader whether he wants it or not. A guy who thinks all is well because he earned his payday and doesn’t care about team wins/losses has negative value to a team like the D’Backs… Grow up Marte; you and I are the same age and if I acted like you at work, I’d be canned immediately.

Makakilo: My approach required two steps:

First step: The Diamondbacks relief pitching Wins Above Average (WAA) ranked 30th in the Majors.

Second Step: Rank the relief pitchers (minimum 25 game appearances) by percentage of got-the-job-done (GTJD) (no earned runs and no inherited runners scored).

  • Sean Poppen 61.5%
  • JB Wendelken 72.4%
  • Mark Melancon 72.7%
  • Ian Kennedy 75.0%
  • Noe Ramirez 78.9%
  • Kyle Nelson 80.0%
  • Joe Mantiply 88.2%

So with 61.5% GTJD, my choice is Sean Poppen. He needs to reverse a trend in OPS against him (.536 in April, .614 in May, .926 in June, and 1.056 in July (through 8 July).

Dano: Melancon, hands down, with Kennedy a close second. We are paying a lot (relatively speaking) for those two, and they’re both kinda trash.

James: Mark Melancon is my LVP, and it is not even close in my book. Others have had varying levels of disappointment. Ketel Marte has turned into a DH right before our eyes. Geraldo Perdomo is experiencing his fair share of struggles, though he is still learning. PAvin Smith is a hot mess and has no home on the diamond. IPK is well, IPK. Carson Kelly was struggling, then he was hurt, then he was struggling and hurt. He seems to finally be coming back around, with an OPS over .900 for the last two weeks. He dug such a hole though, that he may need to wait until next season to post respectable numbers. But of everyone, Mark Melancon, an accomplished veteran arm brought in to help usher in winning ways, making a spirited run for the title of worst reliever in franchise history takes the cake.

MrRbi17: Tie between Carson Kelly and Mark Melancon.

What is the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?

Makakilo: Galaxy Quest. I laugh every time I watch it.

ISH95: Currently drawing a blank on every movie I’ve ever seen.

DBacksEurope: I have very simple humour, be aware. I loved Leslie Nielsen in the past and especially the first two Naked Gun movies. In general Leslie Nielsen made for great movies because of his dry humour performances. After that I liked the Wayans brother’s movies. As a teenager I watched “Don’t be a menace” many times with two of my best friends. After that I have had great laughs with the “Scary movie” franchise movies. Apart from great laughs the movies “Eurotrip”, “Bedazzled” and “Kung Pow” have also provided me with quotes for life. Nowadays I find it tough to find movies that make me laugh a lot. Last time I had tears of joy was with Adam Sandler’s “Fresh”, a great show, especially the short songs about him being a hero. By the way, you can always give me a call to watch an Adam Sandler movie or a movie with Jim Carrey (yes, even “The Grinch”). If you want me to pick just one out of all of these, I’ll go with “Kung Pow” because I have never ever seen a movie again like that one: the writer, director and producer (Steve Oedekerk) mixing himself as an actor into an old existing movie and dubbing it (dubbed Asian movies have generally been a good recipe for a big smile)…I mean, isn’t that something unique?

Spencer: Funniest movie? I don’t know. I don’t really have a go-to comedy to watch when I need a laugh. I usually turn on a familiar sitcom and use that (something like Frasier, HIMYM, or now Ted Lasso). But I did have a conversation with my brother on Friday about how the standalone comedy movie disappeared from Hollywood with the MCU and hasn’t really returned yet. The new fad is adventure comedy with The Lost City and Jungle Cruise becoming modern day versions of Pirates of the Caribbean and The Mummy (Rachel Weiss edition). All that said, I guess I’ll go with one of The Devil Wears Prada/RV/The Internship because those are the ones that I haven’t seen in a while and would probably put on if I needed a good laugh; add Miss Congeniality too, Sandra Bullock can make me laugh in any era.

Dano: Had to think about this one. I was actually gonna go with Die Hard, because there’s something in just about every scene for me to laugh at, or at least chuckle at. Bruce Willis expends so much energy playing John McClain straight and serious in the midst of so much deeply ridiculous stuff, and the movie is so good-naturedly and unabashedly manipulative in its emotional and character beats, and of course Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber is comedy gold. Not all the laughs I get from it were intended by the filmmakers–in fact, at this point, most of them probably weren’t–but it cracks me up every time.

But then I thought of The Blues Brothers. “Man, I hate Illinois Nazis.” The whole “Rawhide” number, and how that becomes a running joke, as do the Illinois Nazis. And of course that last epicly ridiculous car chase, culminating in that final bit with the Bluesmobile when it finally comes to rest in front of the Cook County Assesor’s office. So yeah.

“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.”

“Hit it.”

The Blues Brothers it is.

Wesley: I’m with ISH95 here, I drew a blank at first. Comedy is very subjective, and what was funny to me years ago the first time seeing a movie, may not be funny at all later on. Thinking back, when I saw The Hangover in theaters for the first time, I had never laughed out loud that much. The movie doesn’t hold up on re-watch though, and the sequels are only worth mentioning to say they’re not worth mentioning at all. Conversely, The Big Lebowski is the one movie that becomes funnier on each re-watch. From the incredibly quotable dialogue, to how every scene is memorable, to the sheer pointlessness of it all, that whole movie is just a comedic chef’s kiss of perfection. That’s just my opinion though, man..

Jack: I think for this one it really depends on my age and mindset at the time.

From my own teen years, Animal House was a seminal comedy for me. It was the first of it’s genre really. But as for pure yucks, that was followed closely by Young Frankenstein and of course Up in Smoke. (Yes, it’s like that)

Blues Brothers came out during my early adulthood and the original SNL was a huge part of my teenage years . But I confess I really liked Risky Business and Ferris Buehler’s day off too.

My Cousin Vinny wins the 90’s. Don’t argue.

By the time I hit my 40’s I needed a bit more from comedy movies to hold my attention once they got past the initial joke. Sideways and Snatch both did that for me.

Nothing in the last 10-12 really stands out for me, except maybe The Death of Stalin

James: With so many to choose from, both slapstick and cerebral, this question is a difficult one. In no particular order, since it sort of depends on my mood:

  • Blazing Saddles (probably number one most often)
  • History of the World Part One
  • My Cousin Vinny
  • Oscar
  • The Blues Brothers
  • Beerfest
  • Galaxy Quest

MrRBI17: My taste in movies runs toward the cerebral, the spooky, mysteries, crime/law and the like. (Chinatown is my all time favorite move). Funniest movie I’ve ever seen? I’ll go with the Blues Brothers as well. Airplane!, Sideways, My Cousin Vinny, and Election all had me laughing out loud. The remake of The Producers was also well done. This will really date me, but the early 60’s film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was a favorite of my Dad’s. The scene where Jonathon Winters tears apart a gas station is a riot.

Thank you all for letting me participate!