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SnakePit Round Table: Spring has sprung

Another long, dark winter is over!

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Scenery Of Cherry Blossoms In Zhangping Photo by Ai Shimin/VCG via Getty Images

A week of preseason baseball is in the books. Initial thoughts on the D-backs?


Offense: Two observations:

OBP. My view is the Diamondbacks need to improve their on-base-percentage (OBP) to at least .3245 to be competitive. In spring training through 4 March, their OBP was .323. Their OBP may be good enough to be competitive.

Let’s look at the average of projected OBPs of the 9-man lineups shown in FanGraphs’ Roster Resource to the average OBP in spring training (all batters, weighted by PAs) through 4 March:

  • D-backs: .324 projected lineup vs .323 spring training
  • Giants: .321 projected lineup vs .329 spring training
  • Rockies: .331 projected lineup vs .367 spring training
  • Dodgers: .332 projected lineup vs .369 spring training
  • Padres: .342 projected lineup vs .361 spring training

While the D-backs and Giants OBPs are about the same, the other three teams have higher OBPs in spring training. Will those other three teams hit better than projected? I hope not.

Players. Three players who need to hit well to earn/keep their starting position on the team have hit well in spring training (Baseball Reference data through 3 March).

  • Emmanuel Rivera, OBP was .357, OPS was 1.024.
  • Pavin Smith, OBP was .429, OPS was 1.072.
  • Carson Kelly, OBP was .455, OPS was 1.155.

Pitching: Two observations (Baseball Reference data through 3 March):

Three starting pitchers pitched well.

  • Brandon Pfaadt, SO/BF was .375, (BIP+HR)/BF was .500.
  • Andrew Saalfrank, SO/BF was .333, (BIP+HR)/BF was .333.
  • Zach Davies, SO/BF was .333., (BIP+HR)/BF was .444.

Three relief pitchers pitched well.

  • Tyler Ferguson, SO/BF was .600, (BIP+HR)/BF was .200.
  • Luis Frias, SO/BF was .556, (BIP+HR)/BF was .444.
  • Raffi Vizcaino, SO/BF was .500, (BIP+HR)/BF was .286.

Ben: They’ve looked mostly competent, which is not something I’ve taken for granted over the past couple seasons. Snarky comments aside, it looks like there is legitimate competition between both position players and pitchers which has been sorely lacking for at least three years. While I take any statistical numbers with an extremely heavy dose of salt, it’s encouraging to see Brandon Pfaadt have a WHIP of 0.80 through two “starts” and 5 IP of spring training action.

DBacksEurope: They won some, they lost some more, a couple of players seem to perform and some others not that much. Seems like Spring Training to me. I’d have loved to see the Diamondbacks punish minor league pitching like some other lineups have done. Maybe that is the biggest take so far: on the offensive side we are perhaps still not that good.

I am really waiting for Bumgarner though. Let’s see how he struggles out of the gate.

Wesley: It’s the first week of spring, and it’s been par for the course so far.

Who has stood out for you and why?

Makakilo: Corbin Carroll stood out and was exciting to watch due to his speed and excellent batting (OPS .977). And he could win the NL rookie of the year award, which would be awesome!

Ben: I’ll continue my theme of Brandon Pfaadt standing out as his four-pitch mix looks “unique” according to Carson Kelly and AZCentral.

DBacksEurope: I agree with the Brandon Pfaadt theme, and he has faced some legit MLB batting (Swanson, Tatis) so it is a nice confirmation of what he has done so far.

Wesley: Pfaadt has really shown just how polished of a pitcher he is this spring. Carroll really showing not just his speed, but his full throttle hustling.

Any reasons for or players of concern?

Makakilo: It’s too soon to be concerned, but three players with possible downsides are Madison Bumgarner, Nick Ahmed, and Ketel Marte.

On Saturday, Andrew Chafin had a rough inning earning 2 outs while allowing 3 walks and 3 runs. At least he did NOT walk the first batter. He was unlucky by not striking out the sixth batter (although he did strike out the next batter who was Fernando Tatis Jr), and he was unlucky because of a questionable hit-by-pitch call.

My Perspective of Andrew Chafin is scheduled to post Tuesday.

DBacksEurope: Longoria has looked terrible so far in the games I could see him try to hit. Bad swings, bad takes, didn’t really look that good. Chafin could have started better too, the 3.38 WHIP shows his troubles in getting any kind of batter out at the moment.

Not a nice observation for the FO if your two major FA signings are in the conversation of the biggest question marks already this early.

Makakilo: Hat tip to DBacksEurope for noticing Evan Longoria’s slow start in spring training. One insight is that in this season’s spring training Evan Longoria was the fourth oldest batter. The three older batters were Nelson Cruz (Padres), Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), and Justin Turner (Red Sox).

Wesley: Ditto what everyone else said. Personally I think Ahmed is done as an everyday starter. Longoria has had trouble catching up to 89mph fastballs, which is something I’m concerned about. I’m actually concerned in general that we’ll see certain players just handed a starting job, when their performances doesn’t merit it all, and it’s at the expense of younger, more talented players.

We’ve now seen the rule changes in effect. What do you think?

Makakilo: The pace of the game feels faster, which is a good thing.

Perhaps an unintended consequence was between innings when a D-back pitcher did not have time for all his warm up tosses (actually he took all his warm up pitches but got penalized) because the catcher (who Torey Lovullo stated did NOT dilly dally) could not get to the dugout and put on his gear fast enough. Perhaps when the catcher is on the field batting or running he needs a valet to meet him at home plate with his catching gear. Also, the valet could help him quickly put on his gear.

DBacksEurope: It is quite obvious the pitching clock has a huge impact on the game. If games drop to around 2.5 hours playing time, that isn’t really that much more than a soccer game. That’s fine to me, but it looks like pitchers sometimes really have to stress to deliver a pitch and that affects their results. Maybe that is what Chafin is going through.

Wesley: Personally, I can say I am a fan. Baseball should be boring, tedious, and should strain your ability to focus on it. /s

I’m a fan of the pitch clock, and I think it makes the game much more exciting.

I’m predicting that the players who had encountered the pitch clock last season in the minors will have a much better season than those who didn’t.

I think it’s going to be really ugly the first couple months while players adjust

The WBC starts next weekend. On a 1-10 scale, how invested are you?

Makakilo: As I wrote in a previous round table, because Emmanuel Rivera will be motivated to prove himself worthy of a starting position, his performance could impress fans. And he is not the only player who is likely to shine brightly. Because of my comment, I am more focused on one player than invested in the WBC as a whole.

I tip my hat to DBacksEurope for his excellent coverage of the WBC. About a dozen Diamondbacks will participate in the WBC. For full details see DBacksEurope’s articles. Only 9 teams have more players participating per MLB.

  • Major league camp: RHP Merrill Kelly (USA); 2B Ketel Marte (Dominican Republic); CF Alek Thomas (Mexico); 3B Emmanuel Rivera (Puerto Rico); CF Dominic Fletcher, C Dominic Miroglio, and RHP Mitchell Stumpo (Italy)
  • Minor leaguers: RHP Endrys Briceño (Venezuela); RHP Gunnar Groen (Great Britain); RHP Eric Mendez Matos (Netherlands); LHP Will Sherriff (Australia); RHP Jacob Steinmetz (Israel).
  • RHP Boris Večerka (Czech Republic) (recent international minors’ signing).

DBacksEurope: It actually starts on Tuesday with the games overseas, but yeah, in Phoenix you’ll have to wait until the weekend. While I prefer watching the Diamondbacks, I’m pretty invested in the WBC. Group D looks like a fun group to watch and after that the knock-out phase. If no one beats me to it I’ll report the most D-Backs related news from the WBC to you.

Wesley: Honestly, my interest is at best a 2 out of 10. Interested to see how Roki Sasaki fares against MLB quality hitting.

If you could go back in time for a day to witness a historic event, which would you choose?

Makakilo: Although it could be interesting to be at Roswell to see what the aliens looked like, more meaningful to me would be to witness a day’s discussions and debates as the constitution was written. What were their thoughts? What future situations did they foresee and did they think about a situation similar to our country’s current situation?

DBacksEurope: I have researched quite a big family tree and many names and places, so I sometimes dream of traveling back in time and seeing my mom or dad as a kid, or their parents at specific moments, and so on. The timeline goes back to the 15th Century so I am sure I can witness many historic events along the way that don’t involve death and blood.

Wesley: I was watching an episode of the YouTube series “Crime Pays but Botany Doesn’t” and the host threw out Antarctica during the Eocene epoch. This would have been before Antarctica was glaciated, and the continent would have been covered in flora that’s only found in South America, Australia, and New Zealand today. That doesn’t even get into the unique fauna you’d see. In a similar vein, I’d love to go back 12,000 years ago to before the Younger Dryas period and see all the extinct megafauna along with the beginning of human civilization.

As far as recorded history goes, it’d be cool to go back in time and meet the Buddha or Jesus while they were alive.