We all know that the Diamondbacks, above .500 at the latest point in a season since 2008, are playing pretty well.
Just 1.5 games behind the first-place Giants, Arizona has won 11 of 13, including series wins over the division rival Dodgers and Rockies. Are they contenders? That remains to be seen. What we do know, with certainty, is just how far the team has come in just one year. The numbers through the first 50 games of the season bare that out.
To note, at 26-24 the Diamondbacks are not only two games above .500, but six games ahead of where they were at the same point last season.
Why is that?
Well, the D-backs are allowing just 4.4 runs per game, nearly two better than the 6.2 they surrendered last season. The team’s ERA sits at a respectable 3.94, compared to the 5.95 mark they sported in 2010.
Compare hits allowed (8.6/10.1), walks surrendered (3.2/3.4) and home runs given up (54/85), and it is apparent that the pitching doesn’t just look better this season, it actually is.
And that is why the D-backs are winning games.
Oddly enough, the offense is not as productive as it was just one year ago. The D-backs are scoring 4.4 runs per game, which is less than the five they plated last season. They are tallying fewer hits (8.3/8.6), walking less (3.3/3.9) and going yard at a slower pace (53/59).
The Diamondbacks have cut down on strikeouts, K’ing 7.7 times per game compared to 9.2 at the 50 game mark last season, but that has not helped them collect more hits, as their batting average (.245/.254) and on base percentage (.316/.331) are both trailing last year’s marks. Arizona is also stranding nearly one more runner per game.
In one year the Diamondbacks have gone from a bad team with fading hopes to a solid one that is finding ways to win games. The numbers show definite improvement on the mound, which any baseball people will tell you is the most important part of the team. Good pitching, in fact, can hide sub-par hitting, which seems to be the case this season.
And you know what? We’ll take it.