ESPN: Paul Goldschmidt the most indispensable player on a contender

Aug 17, 2018, 2:16 PM

Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt (44) is greeted in the dugout by manager Torey Lovullo, cent...

Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt (44) is greeted in the dugout by manager Torey Lovullo, center and bench coach Jerry Narron, after Goldschmidt 's home run off Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Luke Farrell during the second inning of a baseball game Monday, July 23, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

In part due to the fact that the Diamondbacks haven’t been able to pull away from National League contenders, ESPN ranked three Arizona players in its list of the 10 most indispensable players down the stretch.

First baseman Paul Goldschmidt, outfielder A.J. Pollock and pitcher Zack Greinke made the list.

ESPN’s Dan Szymborski calculated the difference of postseason probability with and without each player. Instead of using the average replacement-level player, he used the actual player the team would use as a replacement.

So, for someone like Greinke, who made the list at No. 10, the D-backs would have to hope that Robbie Ray would regain his 2017 form or Matt Koch, who had a 2.43 ERA in his first six starts this year but a 6.10 in his final seven before being demoted, could serve as an adequate late-season call-up.

Having Greinke in the rotation impacts the D-backs playoff odds by 10.6 percent, Szymborski estimated.

“Losing Greinke would put a big dent in Arizona’s chances, but at least the Diamondbacks still would have Patrick Corbin, Zack Godley, Robbie Ray and the shockingly decent Clay Buchholz in their rotation.”

Because of the relative depth of the rotation, losing Greinke, who had 12 wins and a 3.00 ERA as of Friday afternoon, is two spots below the Mariner’s pitcher James Paxton, who has 10 wins and a 3.68 ERA.

But two spots higher, coming at No. 6, is Pollock.

That’s no surprise. Arizona has seen first-hand the damage that came from losing Pollock earlier this season.

“This offense still needs baseball’s second-best fish-surnamed center fielder,” Szymborski wrote.

He estimates that the outfielder impacts the D-backs’ playoff odds by 11.7 percent, which is why Pollock made the list over players like Red Sox outfielders Mookie Betts or J.D. Martinez, both of whom are in the American League MVP race.

They’re reasons Boston is 50 games over .500, but their dominance won’t be required over the next month for the Red Sox to secure a spot in the postseason.

“(They) could retire tomorrow to operate a food truck and not prevent Boston from reaching the postseason,” Szymborski wrote.

Pollock is the only outfielder on the list.

National League West rivals Clayton Kershaw and Nolan Arenado are ahead of Pollock, but topping every player in the MLB is America’s first baseman.

At 14.7 percent, Goldschmidt has the largest impact on a team’s playoff odds.

Szymborski notes that when Goldschmidt hit .144 in May, the team went 8-19. The rest of the time, “hitting like his normal superstar self,” the D-backs have gone .613.

The team depth chart lists versatile infielder Daniel Descalso as the only backup first baseman on the team.

If Goldschmidt were to get injured, Arizona might have to call up a player like Christian Walker, who plays first base for the Reno Aces but has only hit .208 in his stints with the D-backs this season.

“Goldschmidt isn’t really worth 300 points of winning percentage all by himself, but he is the key player for an offense that’s simply not very good otherwise,” Szymborski wrote.


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