Babe Ruth did it, and things turned out pretty well for
him, so I’m going to give it a go.
I’m calling my shot. Right here, right now, I am saying
the Arizona Diamondbacks will make it to the postseason.
A bold proclamation? Perhaps. Going out on a limb? That’s
up to you. But as I sit here and type with the D-backs one
game behind San Francisco for the NL West lead and 2.5
back of Atlanta in the Wild Card race, I feel confident in
saying Arizona will be playing past game 162.
The Diamondbacks have not lost a series since the All-Star
break, and that includes a 6-3 mark on the road. They’ve
won 12 of 18 games – most of which have been without
Stephen Drew and J.J. Putz – and fought their way into the
race when most experts had them gracefully bowing out by
But that was never going to happen because these
Diamondbacks just don’t quit. It’s why they are 11 games
above .500 while getting virtually zero production from
first and third base and the occasional good start from
anyone not named Kennedy, Hudson or Saunders.
Then again, “grit” and “heart” and “gibbyup” will only
take a team so far. In fact, people saying those are the
reasons why the Diamondbacks have almost gone, to get
cliché, from “worst to first.” They’re wrong, and are
doing the team a disservice by feeling that way.
I had an epiphany Tuesday night when a friend of mine, who
happens to be a Giants fan, texted me, saying “The
injuries and overachieving are finally catching up [to the
Giants] I think.” I read the message, typed out my reply,
and hit send.
“Well somehow the D-backs are actually pretty good.”
And they are, though it’s actually pretty easy to see why.
Gone are the days of Mark Reynolds, Adam LaRoche and all-
or-nothing swings, as they have been replaced by five
players with more than 10 homers, and four with at least
five. Strikeouts are not the issue they once were, and the
D-backs are reaping the benefits of having people actually
put the ball in play.
But the D-backs’ resurgence, and push towards an
inevitable playoff spot, have less to do with who’s not
here than it does who is.
Think about it: the Diamondbacks boast an MVP candidate in
Justin Upton, a Gold Glove caliber defender in Chris
Young, one of the game’s best hitting catchers in Miguel
Montero and utility players, like Ryan Roberts and Willie
Bloomquist, who keep getting the job done.
While everyone wanted Kevin Towers to fix the offense by
the trade deadline, the Diamondbacks, maybe surprisingly,
lead the NL in home runs with 127. True, they lack the
traditional big bat in the lineup, but that hasn’t stopped
them from crushing baseball sand scoring runs.
Of course, nobody will confuse the D-backs for the Blake Street Bombers of the
mid-90s, and we wouldn’t even be talking playoffs if it
weren’t for one of the better pitching staffs in baseball.
Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Joe Saunders all have ERAs
under four, J.J. Putz is back to locking down the ninth
inning and David Hernandez is still getting the job done.
Knowing that’s not enough, Towers did go out and add a
couple of pitchers, pulling off a pair of trades that
would make Jerry Dipoto blush. And
yes, calling up Paul Goldschmidt from Double-A to play
first base, adding a guy who was just tearing up the Minor
Leagues, will do nothing to hurt the team’s confidence. In
making the moves Towers not only made the team better, but
showed that he thinks the Diamondbacks are ready to make a
run at the postseason.
I believe him, and it appears the Diamondbacks do. If
having the talent is one half of the battle, belief may be
the other. The Diamondbacks are lacking neither.
In 2007 the marketing them was “Anybody, Anytime” and
that has been reborn, to an extent, in 2011.
The key difference between then and now is the ’07 team won with smoke and mirrors, finishing the year having
given up more runs than they scored, while this year’s
squad is actually, legitimately good. They win not because of flukes, but because they are simply a better ball club.
And that’s why they’ll return to the postseason.