ESPN: Diamondbacks ‘high achievers’ a month into the season
A month of baseball is officially in the books.
And even though the Arizona Diamondbacks lost some key pieces in the offseason, the team compiled a 17-13 record in the month of April.
But how have the D-backs fared against other teams just a month into the season?
According to ESPN’s first-month grades for all 30 teams, the D-backs joined 11 teams in “The High Achievers” category with a B+ for their April performance.
For those in the Valley, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given the team’s numbers offensively.
Now 18-13 following a 3-2 win over the visiting New York Yankees on Wednesday, Arizona ranks in the top five in a number of MLB categories, including fifth in runs scored (158), first in hits (286) and doubles (75) and fourth in RBI (151) and batting average (.265).
Helping fill the voids on offense left behind from former D-backs Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock has been first baseman Christian Walker.
Best storyline: Christian Walker is a 28-year-old journeyman-type first baseman who spent most of the past five years at Triple-A and entered the season with just 99 PAs over four major league seasons. He has hit like Paul Goldschmidt, however, and it hasn’t been a fluke as he ranks in the top 10 in average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage.
In 28 games (101 at-bats) this season, Walker’s averaged .308 at the plate (tied for 10th in MLB), recording 32 hits (T-third on D-backs), seven home runs (T-first on D-backs) and 15 RBI (T-second on D-backs). He’s also scored 17 runs (T-third on D-backs) and stole three bases.
Eduardo Escobar has also been an important piece to the team’s offensive arsenal.
In 30 games this season, Escobar has 33 hits, 17 RBI and five homers. From the plate, the third baseman is averaging .292 and slugging .522.
Last week was easily his best of the season, as Escobar had three long balls, two in one outing, and added eight RBI with a 1.573 OPS, helping Arizona go 4-2 on the road.
Looking at the team’s pitching staff, Arizona was in the middle of the pack for the first 30 games. As a unit, the D-backs finished 10th in ERA (4.25), ninth in saves (10) and strikeouts (277) and 15th in earned runs (130) led by ace Zack Greinke.
Greinke finished the month of April first in the NL in wins, going 5-1 with a 3.27 ERA and 46 strikeouts (T-fourth in NL) in seven starts.
On the other side of the rotation, Zack Godley struggled mightily in April.
Mulligan: Zack Godley wants a do-over, that’s for sure. He’s 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA through his first six starts, with 18 walks in 29.2 innings.
It’s a month to forget for Godley, who is tied for first in the NL in runs scored (26) and first in earned runs (25). He also walked 18 batters (T-third) to 25 strikeouts and posted a 1.72 WHIP.
With his play noticeably down, manager Torey Lovullo made the decision to move the pitcher to the bullpen. A replacement to the starting rotation had yet to be named as of Wednesday afternoon.
The combination of Merrill Kelly and Luke Weaver has picked up some of the slack left by Godley, however, as the duo has combined to go 5-3.
And while the team figures out who will move into the vacant starter’s spot, it seems Arizona has found its answer in the closer department in Greg Holland.
Since joining the team this offseason and being named closer at the conclusion of the spring training — over the likes of Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano — Holland has filled the role.
In 11 games played, Holland has seven saves, tied for eighth in MLB, and 15 strikeouts, allowing just two hits and five walks over 11 innings.
Around the rest of the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers (20-12) and San Diego Padres (17-13) also cracked “The High Achievers” category, each earning an A- grade. The Colorado Rockies (13-17) were a tier off the top in the “The C-class” with a C and the San Francisco Giants (12-18) rounded out the division in the “Hey, At Least You Passed” category with a D.
Taking the cake for the top achiever in the ranking was the Tampa Bay Rays (19-10), while the Boston Red Sox (13-17) finished dead last in the “Three Who Failed” with a F-.
With April now history, and following a 3-2 win over the Yankees, the D-backs look to stay undefeated in the month of May as they travel to Colorado to take on the Rockies on Friday.