Trade deadline, D-backs’ competitiveness a question come July

Jun 27, 2019, 12:19 PM

Arizona Diamondbacks' Ildemaro Vargas (15), Nick Ahmed (13), David Peralta (6), and Tim Locastro (1...

Arizona Diamondbacks' Ildemaro Vargas (15), Nick Ahmed (13), David Peralta (6), and Tim Locastro (16) celebrate a win against the Los Angeles Dodgers after the final out in the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks defeated the Dodgers 8-2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Diamondbacks quest to determine whether they are good or bad, contenders or pretenders or buyers or sellers is not getting any easier.

As GM Mike Hazen said last week on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf, the upcoming month was going to be key in determining which direction the team goes.

After those comments, the D-backs lost four in a row: two against the Colorado Rockies, a team similar in competitiveness to the D-backs, and two to the bottom-feeding San Francisco Giants.

But since, the D-backs have rebounded, at least out of misery and back to .500.

Is that really something to be proud of?

The D-backs are 3-1 in their last four since the losing streak. They took care of business against the Giants Sunday and won a three-game series with baseball’s best in the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers series could spark some hope and show that the team can hang with the top teams, but Arizona’s record says otherwise. The D-backs are 23-33 against teams above-.500, a not-so encouraging sign. But it’s recommended to read that record again.


That’s 56 games out of the 82 the D-backs have played so far.

The D-backs are playing a really tough schedule, the fourth-hardest in baseball per Baseball Reference. Which means that meddling around the .500 mark may be a bit forgivable.

It’s not like they’re disappointing, either. They’re 18-8 against teams below .500; the seventh-best mark in baseball. The D-backs have responded to their schedule appropriately.

Which is what pythagorean record, a stat used to calculate what a team’s record should be as to what it is based on runs scored and allowed, is saying as well.

The D-backs’ pythagorean record stands at 45-37, four games better than their actual record of 41-41. That’s the third largest underachievement in baseball this season.

Well, the stat’s base is runs allowed and scored, two pretty basic statistics. Essentially, if a team scores a lot of runs and allows very few and loses, then its pythagorean record will be much better than its actual record. If the opposite is true, its record will be worse. If it’s a mix, the record will likely be similar.

The D-backs score the eighth-most runs in baseball and allow a slightly-below average amount. On both sides, they’re an above-average team.

Pythagorean record sees a very good offensive team and a good-enough pitching team.

But the D-backs’ true record, due to the schedule, doesn’t reflect that. Good-enough pitching doesn’t always get it done, especially against above-.500 teams.

The D-backs are going to need their schedule to help them over the next month.

What’s coming is a mixed bag. The D-backs’ upcoming nine series features only two teams that are truly good in the Dodgers and Yankees. It features three teams that are truly bad in the Marlins and Orioles, and the rest is a toss-up. The Brewers, Rockies, Cardinals and Rangers all have similar records to the D-backs. Some are surprisingly here (Rangers), others are disappointing (Brewers, Cardinals) and the Rockies are about where we expected them to be.

That stretch should be quite manageable for the D-backs. They’ve indicated they can handle manageable. But is making a July run and buying at the trade deadline worth what could be a short-lived playoff run?

That’s the question they have to answer.

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