D-backs GM: Good start is pleasing, but ‘7-2 is just 7-2’
Apr 12, 2017, 10:24 AM | Updated: 2:37 pm
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The Arizona Diamondbacks are arguably the biggest surprise in the early part of the 2017 season.
Saddled with a schedule that included home series against the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians before hitting the road for another set with San Francisco, it would have been understandable if they struggled out of the gate.
Instead, at 7-2, they have the best record in baseball.
“I’m not surprised, with the talent we thought we had and the way we went into spring training, I think the work that was put in,” D-backs GM Mike Hazen told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “But if the record were reversed I wouldn’t be jumping off a bridge, either.”
Indeed, with 153 games remaining in the regular season, nothing the D-backs have done or could have done up to this point would have in any way determined whether this summer will be a success or failure.
Still, after winning just 69 games in a disappointing 2016 campaign, the fast start to this season is surely a welcome sight. And how they’ve gotten to seven wins, with comebacks in five of them, is something the first-year GM said is “a good indicator of the type of team that you could see on a nightly basis.”
So far, the D-backs seem to be a team with a dangerous offense, decent fielding and inconsistent-yet-sometimes-really-good pitching.
Through nine games the D-backs are first in baseball with 53 runs scored, with their 20 doubles tying for the top mark and their 49 RBI also pacing MLB. Their team ERA of 3.49 is 10th, though their three quality starts (outings of at least six innings with three earned runs or fewer allowed) places them 22nd.
Hazen is especially pleased with the team’s willingness to fight back from deficits, sometimes doing damage against effective starting pitchers and other times against good bullpens.
“I think on the whole of the baseball season you’re going to go through your ups and downs,” he acknowledged. “But I think the team that battles through nine innings most consistently gives themselves a chance to win on a nightly basis, and so far we’ve been able to do that.”
Though Hazen said he is not surprised by any of this, he admitted his optimism in spring training was tempered by the reality that no one could really know for sure what would transpire when the games started to count.
It was just one year ago when the D-backs followed up a 24-8 Cactus League with a season that led to the team firing its manager and general manager.
Hazen was brought in to help reshape the organization’s philosophy, though he pointed out that getting certain players back healthy, like center fielder A.J. Pollock, has helped the team’s cause.
“Every guy we signed, every guy we brought in, you hope what’s going to happen is these guys all reach their full potential,” he said. “As a group, I think what I’m most happy with, what we’re most happy with, is the consistency of our offense one through nine.
“That there’s dangerous spots in our lineup all the way through. That presents the largest challenge to an opposing club, when you have that type of approach one through nine.”
Currently, eight D-backs — including pitcher Robbie Ray, Jeremy Hazelbaker and Nick Ahmed — have batting averages of at least .300, while a ninth, third baseman Jake Lamb, is at .286, with a team-leading 10 RBI.
Of course, Ray is not likely to bat .500 all season, and Hazelbaker likely won’t hover around the .857 mark he is sporting now. But the point is the D-backs’ offense, which was good last year, appears to be good again this year.
Then again, it’s only been nine games, which is why Hazen is not ready to say the D-backs have arrived as contenders or that he should be considered among the game’s best general managers for turning things around so quickly.
“If you want to send me a few congratulatory texts that would be very, very helpful,” he said, with a laugh. “I haven’t gotten any of those.
“I think everybody around the game of baseball understands that 7-2 is just 7-2.”