A Changed Mindset.
My old mindset. Success is reaching the postseason. The Diamondbacks blew past it.
My new mindset. Success is competing deep into the postseason. More specifically, success is reaching the NLCS.
So far, the Diamondbacks won three games in the NLCS. That hasn’t happened since 2001. After a gap of 21 years without any wins in the NLCS, this season’s Diamondbacks are winning games in the NLCS.
A New Statement.
Are you awake? If not, wake up now for an eye-opening statement: This season’s Diamondbacks are as good or better than the 2001 Diamondbacks. That statement was based on observations of postseason play:
- In this postseason, starting pitchers made three appearances (compared with four in 2001) with at least four scoreless innings.
- In each of the 2001 and 2023 postseasons, the Diamondbacks won a bullpen game in the NLCS. (game 4 vs the Braves and game 4 vs the Phillies). The 2001 Diamondbacks used 6 pitchers with 3.1 inning maximum. The 2023 Diamondbacks showed more bullpen depth using 8 pitchers with 2.0 inning maximum (and 25 pitch maximum).
- In each of the 2001 and 2023 postseasons, eight different players hit a home run. The significant difference was that while 11 homers were hit in 2001, 18 homers (so far) were hit in 2023.
Let’s compare outstanding starting pitching performances.
The following table shows the Diamondbacks’ outstanding postseason starting pitching performances (at least 4 innings and no runs allowed, earned or unearned).
The table shows that the 2001 and 2023 Diamondbacks had outstanding performances.
Side Note: In this postseason between 3 October and 19 October, there were 12 outstanding starting pitching performances. With 3 each, the two teams competing in the NLCS (Diamondbacks and Phillies) were tied, and together they accounted for half of the outstanding starting pitching performances. Christian Javier and Brandon Pfaadt stood above the rest, each with 9 strikeouts. However, Javier had 5 walks and Pfaadt had zero walks.
Let’s look at the bullpen.
This postseason, without Randy Johnson and Curt Shilling as starters, the bullpen has a larger workload than 2001. This postseason, in the NLDS, the Dodgers ended a streak of 57 consecutive postseason outs by the bullpen without any runs scoring. In the NLCS, the Phillies (game 2) ended a streak of 16 consecutive outs (20 batters faced) without any runs scoring. And in game four of the NLCS, the Diamondbacks won a bullpen game. My view is that the 2023 bullpen, although not perfect, is amazing!
Let’s compare batters hitting home runs.
The following table shows the ages and homers for the eight players who hit homers in the postseasons of 2001 and 2023. A caveat is that the 2023 postseason is not over, so more names could join the table.
A window of contention is open.
The Diamondbacks window of contention will remain open next season because its’ most competitive players are younger than they were in 2001.
Younger Starting Pitchers. In 2001 and 2023, there were outstanding starting pitching performances by 5 pitchers. In 2001, Randy Johnson was 38, Curt Schilling was 34, and Miguel Batista was 30. In 2023, Merrill Kelly was 34 and Brandon Pfaadt was 24 & 25. Note: In the 2023 postseason, Zac Gallen (age 28) is overdue for an outstanding pitching performance.
Younger Batters. In 2001 and 2023, eight different players hit homers. In 2001, the youngest batters were Rod Barajas (26) and Erubiel Duranzo (27). In 2023, the four youngest batters were 23 years old.
- Near certain Rookie-of-the-Year with 25 Homers and 54 stolen bases (plus 2 of each in the postseason), Corbin Carroll.
- With a league leading 48% caught stealing percentage during regular season, Gold Glove award finalist, with 3 homers this postseason, amd except for slightly too much playing time would have contended for Rookie-of-the-Year, Gabriel Moreno.
- With 4 homers this postseason, and Gold Glove award finalist in center field, Alek Thomas.
- With 2 homers this postseason, All-Star shortstop this season, Geraldo Perdomo.
The 2023 Diamondbacks are as good as or better than the 2001 Diamondbacks. In either case, the 2023 Diamondbacks are younger and this season a window of contention opened.