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The State of the Diamondbacks, one month in

While the standings are better than expected, there’s still cause for concern.

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Los Angeles Dodgers v. Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Darryl Webb/MLB Photos via Getty Images

It’s almost a month since Opening Day, and we are almost at the one-sixth point of the season. With an off-day today, it seems a good point to pause and take stock of where the team is. The simple answer is: leading the National League West, which is not something I imagine many of us expected to be saying at this point in March. Indeed, a certain writer called the early schedule “brutal” and “a very difficult test and challenging start to the season.” However, the D-backs have certainly held their own, in particular going 7-7 against the Dodgers and Padres. This compares very well to the 10-28 record versus those two teams last season. Let’s hand out some first month awards.

Most Valuable Player: Geraldo Perdomo

Yeah, that’s a sentence I didn’t expect to be writing a month ago. But, here we are. Perdomo is hitting .365/.450/.577 for a 1.027 OPS, a 183 OPS+, while playing solid defense at short, where he has yet to make an error. All told, he has been worth 1.2 bWAR or 1.1 fWAR, tops and equal top among position players. This is, it must be admitted, utterly unsustainable. He has had a batting average on balls in play of .486, where MLB average is .291 and his Baseball Savant page has more blue than Dodger Stadium. He’s in the bottom 10% for exit velocity, hard-hit percentage and barrels. However, those hits are in the books, and as ‘Hacks noted, he’s the only regular walking at a good rate.

Cy Young award: Zac Gallen

Yeah, that’s a sentence I didn’t expect to be writing after his first two starts. Over 10.2 innings, he had allowed 13 hits, four walks and nine earned runs, for a 7.59 ERA. Even his FIP was north of five, and it seemed the new pitch clock rules had potentially broken Zac. But then the upgrades kicked in, and Gallen has produced another streak of dominance for the ages. Four starts, 27 scoreless innings and a K:BB ratio of 41:1. One time through the Royals’ order yesterday, he struck out eight of the nine batters faced, the other deciding to get it over with quickly and fly out on one pitch. It’s a streak of dominance very rarely seen since the mound was lowered, due to Bob Gibson, after the 1968 season.

Rookie of the Year: Corbin Carroll

He’s right now on pace for a 6.9 WAR season (b or f), which would be easily the best ever by a D-backs’ rookie position player. He’s hitting .311, has finally started to take walks (after none in his first 16, he has seven in the last ten) and has been a force of nature on the basepaths, with ten stolen-bases already. The sole knock remaining might be his defense, which the metrics view as only average, despite occasional highlight plays like this five-star catch. Right now, the battle for Rookie of the Year appears to be between Carroll (1.1 fWAR) and the Dodgers’ James Outman (1.5 bWAR), with no-one else worth more than half a win. But it is a marathon, not a sprint, so plenty of time left for the situation to change.

Least valuable player: Jake McCarthy

You could argue a case based on averaging fWAR and bWAR for Alek Thomas. However, he is at least still on the roster, while McCarthy has now been consigned to Reno. Jake had a wretched start, with an OPS+ of 30, though had played good defense (and his absence has already been missed in the Royals’ series). His peripherals are better than that, but are still not great, and it’s particularly disappointing considering his very solid production last season, where he finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting, despite appearing in fewer than a hundred games for Arizona. He can still contribute, and I suspect we will see him come back later in the season.

Cy Dung award: Madison Bumgarner

Now, this IS a sentence I expected to be writing. I just wasn’t sure how long it would take for the team to pull the trigger and send MadBum to that farm upstate. In the end, he made it easy for him, with a series of mediocre performances. He allowed a total of 25 hits, including four home-runs, and 15 walks in 16.2 innings. The most damning comment was in Nick Piecoro’s article: “Players on a rival team talked about adjusting to the quality of his stuff in the same way that they would adjust to a position player pitching.” That the team were willing to eat the $33 million remaining, easily a franchise record, tells you how little they valued what Bumgarner had to offer.

Cause for concern: the bullpen

Maybe it’s just delayed PTSD, left over from last season, but I still find myself tremendously nervous when Arizona’s bullpen enters the game. On the surface, there’s no real cause for concern, given the collective record of our relief corps is 8-3, a vast improvement on the 30-41 record they posted in 2022. But their fWAR sits 28th in the majors at 0.3 wins BELOW replacement, with an ugly 5.13 FIP. So far, the first batter to face Andrew Chafin, the man who is effectively our closer, has reached base 8 out of 12 times (three hits and five walks). While disaster has largely been dodged thereafter, it certainly does not help my nerves in save situations. If something doesn’t change, I sense a great disturbance in the force.

So, what are your highs and lows, areas of praise and departments of disappointment so far? Here’s a quick poll, but tell us in the comments.


What concerns you about the D-backs most?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Starting pitching
    (100 votes)
  • 54%
    Relief pitching
    (152 votes)
  • 9%
    (26 votes)
  • 0%
    (1 vote)
279 votes total Vote Now