Cleat Geeks

D’Backs 1st Quarter Grades; Offense, Defense, Pitching, & Managerial

Monday’s home game for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Milwaukee Brewers signified the quarter pole in the season for the team and the first chance for us to do our season grades. While the D’backs own the best record in the National League West, not everything has gone smoothly – especially of late – for the soft-hitting club from the desert. Here we’ll dissect all of the on-field play from the team – hitting, defense, pitching – as well as the coaching, by assigning letter grades to each facet and an overall grade for the team as a whole.

Image result for a.j. pollock

Photo by; Venom Strikes

HITTING – D-

While outfielder A.J. Pollock won the Player of the Month award for the month of April, the D’backs offense as a whole is off to a franchise-worst start in 2018. The Diamondbacks rank 30th – MLB worst – in both hits per game and batting average, while also ranking bottom five in on-base and slugging percentages. The offense is on pace to finish with the worst batting average in their franchises 20-year history. While no team in franchise-history has finished below .246 in any season, through the first-quarter of the season the current club is just barely hitting above .220. There’s a lot of ground to make up these next 4+ months if they expect to get out of the cellar in that regard. Besides batting average, the D’backs also rank bottom three in team history in on-base% (2nd worst), Slugging% (3rd) and OPS (2nd). Without A.J. Pollock – plus David Peralta and Daniel Descalso – the D’backs offensive grade would’ve been firmly an F. This fact was heightened when Pollock fractured his thumb in Monday night’s loss to the Brewers and will possibly miss the next two months. Sigh.

Image result for ketel marte 2018

Photo by; AZ snake pit

DEFENSE – A+

Even though the Diamondbacks are second in baseball in Total Chances and first in Total Putouts this year, their 12 errors this season – best in MLB – has them on pace to finish with only 48 on the season, 27 less than their current franchise-low mark of 75 in 2013. For comparison’s sake, the Miami Marlins made the least amount of errors last season with 73. The 2013 Diamondback team currently holds the mark for the best fielding percentage in team history at .988. The D’backs .992 fielding percentage also leads all of MLB, just ahead of the Astros .991. Diamondbacks finished 26th in baseball with 108 errors and 24th with a .982 fielding percentage last year. The biggest reason for the increase in production from the defense lies up the middle. In 213 combined games last season, Brandon Drury (10 in 114 games at 2B; .977 fielding %), Chris Owings (11 errors in 54 games at SS; .943%) and Daniel Descalso (7 in 45 games at 2B; .963%) accounted for 26% of the teams errors. This year the D’backs have had a healthy Nick Ahmed at shortstop and they also made Ketel Marte their everyday second baseman. The two have combined for just three errors – all three by Ahmed – for a fielding percentage of .990 in 305 total chances. The 2018 D’backs scored a 100% on the fielding part of their quarterly test.

Image result for brad boxberger diamondbacks

Photo by; Call To The Pen

Pitching – A

The 2017 Diamondback pitching staff set team records for fewest runs, hits and lowest ERA (3.66) Not bad considering the dynamic duo of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling donned the purple pinstripes together for 3+ seasons. Through Monday’s game against the Brewers, the D’backs are on pace to finish either first or second in team history in ERA (1st; 3.16), Runs (1st), Hits (2nd) and WHIP (2nd). The 2018 staff’s ERA is currently second in all of baseball, only behind Houston’s minuscule 2.49. Even though the Diamondback starting pitchers have the 11th best ERA in baseball, the pitching staff as a whole are still in the top three of MLB in batting average against, quality starts, hits, WHIP, saves, and bullpen ERA. Hard to say anything else other than when the team loses there’s a good chance it’s not because of the pitching.

Image result for torey lovullo diamondbacks

Photo by; Call To The Pen

Managing (Torey Lovullo) – B

It’s hard to nitpick someone too bad when they’ve managed their club to one of the franchises fastest starts in team history, but it also doesn’t mean that manager is perfect either. While Paul Goldschmidt is enduring his worst 41 game start to a season in his career, Lovullo hasn’t sat him down for a full day off yet. Goldy started 40 of the first 41 games this year, but in his lone off day he still came in to pinch-hit then stayed in the game at first base. If anyone on the team could use a full off day or two – besides Alex Avila and his sub .130 batting average – it’s perennial all-star and MVP candidate, Goldschmidt. Another knock on Torey could be his unwavering faith in his players. Even though Alex Avila has one hit in May and his hitting well under the mendoza line, he has played in 30 of the teams first 41 games this season and has hit as high as 6th in the lineup this month.

Overall Team Grade – B+

While the team come out of the gate hot, they have soured in the month of May, by winning only 4 of 13 games this month through Monday’s game. With an extensive D.L. list pilling up, it feels like the team is hanging on by a thread trying to recapture any momentum they had gathered through the first month plus of the season. The return of Robbie Ray and Jake Lamb (activated off DL on Friday) should help, but the team is going to need more than just those two to right the ship.

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