Cleat Geeks

More Than Just An Unsung Hero

With “ace” Zack Greinke having an ERA hovering around four, Goldy having a 2-month slump for the ages to start the season, Corbin currently sitting at his highest ERA of the season, Pollock being hurt for over a month now, Peralta having a month of May where he had only 4 XBH, 5 RBI to go along with a .211 average, it’s been the much less touted, super-utility specialist, Daniel Descalso –  team leader in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS – who’s been the first half team MVP for the 2018 Arizona Diamondbacks.

In 2017, his first with the team, Descalso set career highs in HR (10) and RBI (51). With 8 long balls and 39 runs driven in this season (roughly 90 games remaining), Daniel is currently on pace to shatter those numbers. If the season ended today he would set career highs in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. The 5’10, 195-pound Descalso has at least 11 RBI in each month this season and is on the verge of posting at least three home runs in three straight months, both career first’s at the ripe ol’ age of 31.

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The former standout pitcher at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, California, has seen a spike in offensive production with each passing month. While the D’backs as a team hit a putrid .193/.264/.316 in the month of May, Daniel was just starting to heat up coming off an April where the former 3rd-round pick from UC-Davis .229/.318/.443 with 3 HR and 13 RBI in his first 70 at-bats of the season as the calendar flipped to May. In 69 May at-bats, the former Cardinal and Rockie hit .290/.388/.565 while adding another 3 bombs and 11 RBI.  So far in only 30 June at-bats (prior to Mondays game), Daniel already has 15 RBI to go with a .379 average while getting on base nearly 50% of the time (.474) to go with an OPS of 1.198 and 2 HRs.

Daniel’s currently making his hay against righties now more than ever, as he’s slashing .292/.407/.562 against them so far this year compared to his .245/.324/.378 career mark against them. D.D’s also one of the only hitters on the team who hasn’t felt any ill-effects from the newly installed humidor at Chase Field consider he’s hitting a shiny .326 with an OPS over 1.000, with 5 HR & 22 RBI in 92 home at-bats.

One key to his new found success lies with Daniel being ultra-opportunistic when pitchers fall behind in the count to him. In hitters counts (1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-1), Descalso has a career average of .330. In 2018, he’s bumped that baby all the way up to .420. Another area this season that pops off the map compared to previous ones is how he’s producing when the stakes get turned up a notch. While he’s hitting a mere .208 this season, in what Baseball-reference defines as low-leverage situations, Daniel’s hitting a sweet .337 combined during medium and high-leverage situations, compared to .258 in his career when the pressure rises. That’s what clutch hitters do.

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While Daniel has been the most consistent offensive force for the first place Diamondbacks, his flexibility in the field shouldn’t be overlooked, as he’s played 1B, 2B, 3B and LF this season. He also was basically Jake Lamb’s everyday replacement at third while the slugger was on the shelf for over a month.

The current team MVP has never been in the running for MVP, nor ever been an All-Star or even in the debate for that matter, he’ll, he’s even making exactly half the salary that Alex Avila is this year, but one thing is for certain and that is the 2018 Arizona Diamondbacks wouldn’t be where they are today without the player that they call “Scals.”

 

 

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