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Summer Swoon: Breaking down the D-backs power struggle in 2018

Arizona Diamondbacks Jake Lamb follows through on a two-RBI double against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The Arizona Diamondbacks are vying for a postseason spot in consecutive seasons for the first time in a decade.

How they are winning games is the difference. This year’s team has relied on a strong pitching staff and an elite defense.

The 2017 team touted one of the better offenses in Major League Baseball. Led by strong seasons from Paul Goldschmidt, J.D. Martinez, Jake Lamb and David Peralta, the D-backs were good at scoring runs in bunches, providing their pitching staff with breathing room.

The D-backs as a team slugged .445, which was third-best in Major League Baseball. Through 91 games this season, the D-backs are slugging an unimpressive .397, which ranks No. 22 in MLB.

Martinez is gone, Goldschmidt and Lamb haven’t been as good in 2018 and Peralta has put up similar numbers while playing every day.

Steven Souza Jr. was brought in to replace Martinez with the understanding he wouldn’t be nearly as good but would provide corner outfield power and a patient eye at the plate. He has battled injuries since spring training and was most likely rushed back too soon from injury leading to poor production. He hit his first home run of the season on Saturday but is hitting a putrid .148 in 18 games.

First-half of 2017 First-half of 2018
Extra-base hits  313  273
Slugging percentage  .443 9th in MLB .397 22nd in MLB
Isolated power  .184 .165

Lamb has battled tough luck in 2018 as well. He injured his shoulder in the season’s fourth game sliding into home plate. Shoulder injuries have notoriously caused hitters to lose power, and Lamb’s power outage could be a one year blip. Lamb is slugging a disappointing .377, with only 13 of his 41 hits going for extra bases.

A.J. Pollock’s scorching April was derailed with a May thumb injury that coincided with the team losing 14 of 16 games. Now that Pollock is back, it will be important for him to put up strong offensive numbers.

The introduction of the humidor has changed Chase Field from a park that favors hitters to one that plays fairly neutral, according to Baseball Reference’s park factor. While this may have been a bit of a detractor to the D-backs’ bats it has helped their pitching staff post the third best ERA in baseball.

Setting a club record by scoring 20 runs on Saturday against the Padres was a step in the right direction. But to turn around Sunday and be held scoreless for 12 straight innings in a disappointing loss shows the offense is still a work in progress.

However, not every metric shows the D-backs’ lack of power. The team ranks No. 12 in MLB in isolated power, which is determined by subtracting a team’s batting average from its slugging percentage. This is only one measurement, but it could lead to believe that the D-backs have the potential to drive the ball at the plate and could lead to a better offensive output.

With the all-star break looming, the D-backs have 40 less extra-base hits than a season ago and are slugging nearly 50 points lower than 2017. The D-backs finished 2017 with baseball’s third best slugging percentage, mainly due to the addition of J.D. Martinez.

If the D-backs expect to make a strong second half push, the offense will probably need an upgrade.

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