One year ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks were preparing to follow up on a surprising 2011 campaign that saw them win the NL West.
One year ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks were a favorite to represent the National League in the World Series.
One year ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks were led on the field by MVP candidate Justin Upton, who was supported by one of the deepest lineups and farm systems in baseball.
And one year ago, the experts said the Arizona Diamondbacks had a star in manager Kirk Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers could do no wrong.
What a difference a year makes.
Now the D-backs are projected to finish behind both the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants as well as the free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers, Justin Upton is in Atlanta and people are starting to question whether or not “Gibby Ball”, which has seemed to guide the franchise’s offseason, is the right way to go.
Count D-backs infielder Willie Bloomquist among those who not only like the idea, but are up to the challenge of proving its validity. The 35-year-old said he’s “thrilled” with the moves the team made in the offseason and is excited for the season that’s to come.
“I love it because there’s things the statistics can’t measure,” Bloomquist told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Tuesday. “If statistics were the only thing that mattered in baseball I would have been done playing a long time ago.”
Bloomquist is entering his third season with the D-backs. He hit .302 with no home runs, 23 RBI and 7 stolen bases last season, which was cut short due to a back injury. He figures to play more of a reserve role this year, but will likely still see regular at bats.
“I’m obviously a guy that loves the ‘old school’ type of playing, and the proof’s in the pudding,” he added. “Look at the San Francisco Giants. They didn’t have any guys that were off the charts in their numbers offensively, but they had guys step up at the right time and play together at the right time.
“You can’t tell me in watching the postseason last year those guys weren’t having fun.”
At the same time, sports are generally fun when you’re winning, which the Giants did a lot of last season.
But Bloomquist’s point, which seems to be the same as the organization is trying to prove, is that there is more to winning baseball than stats or things that can be measured in a box score.
“I think chemistry and team camaraderie and clubhouse chemistry is a huge thing, and with the guys that we have this year that we brought in, we have great clubhouse guys and guys that love to play the game and love to play it the right way.”