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D-backs offense thrives in first week without Goldschmidt

Arizona Diamondbacks' David Peralta, right, scores on an RBI-sacrifice fly hit by Nick Ahmed as San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges, left, watches during the third inning of a baseball game in San Diego, Monday, April 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

It’s December 2018: After a late-season collapse that ended the team’s playoff hopes, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced they have traded six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt the St. Louis Cardinals, leaving a huge hole in their lineup.

Over the past five seasons with the D-backs, Goldschmidt had been a perennial MVP candidate, averaging 29 home runs, 95 runs batted in and a .407 on-base percentage.

Now almost five months later, the D-backs have heard their fair share of criticism about trading their superstar.

While going 3-4 to start 2019, Arizona has shown its struggles in almost every aspect of the game — but surprisingly offense is not one of them.

Through the first seven games, the D-backs have scored a total of 41 runs and have a league-leading 75 hits and 22 doubles. The runs, a .280 batting average and a .526 slugging percentage all rank third in the majors.

So where is all this production coming from?

After the Goldschmidt trade, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo made it clear that some of his guys needed to step up. Through seven games, two of those guys have been first baseman Christian Walker and outfielder David Peralta.

While only starting in four games, Walker has proven himself to be a true offensive presence in the D-backs lineup.

In just 19 at-bats, the 28-year-old has recorded five extra-base hits, including three home runs. Walker has also posted an impressive average exit velocity of 98.0 mph.

Walker, who has yet to play more than 40 games in a season at the major league level, previously showed his ability to drive in runs during his time with the Triple-A Reno Aces. In 2017, he was the Pacific Coast League MVP after recording 32 home runs, 114 RBI and a .597 slugging percentage in 133 games with the Aces.

For the time being, the D-backs’ plan is to find at-bats for both Jake Lamb and Walker, even if it means getting Lamb time back at his natural third-base position.

But with Lamb injuring his quad late in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Padres, perhaps this is Walker’s chance to show what he can do as an everyday player in his biggest exposure to the majors yet.

As for Peralta, the 2018 Silver Slugger Award winner is off to one of the best starts of his career. In seven games, Peralta has tallied a league-leading 15 hits and seven doubles, which is good for a 1.212 OPS.

His 15 hits are the most ever for a D-back through seven games, and over a three-game series in San Diego, he became the first player in team history to record two doubles in three straight games.

With that being said, producing offense is nothing new for the 31-year-old. In 2018, Peralta posted career highs in home runs (30), RBI (87) and hits (164). If Peralta could continue to increase his power numbers, it would be a good start to replacing the power threat that was Goldschmidt.

Throw in some offensive production from all three catchers and three home runs courtesy starting pitchers so far, and it’s been a surprising start for the Diamondbacks.

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