The San Diego Padres very well could be who we thought they were. That would be a consensus top-five baseball team.
With that bit of context in mind, the Arizona Diamondbacks came out of the 2021 offseason with generally concerning performances in a 1-3 series loss to San Diego. Sunday’s win at least stopped the bleeding for a moment.
As the D-backs take Monday off before resuming play on the road Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies, let’s take a look at the trends and storylines for Arizona to start the season: by the numbers.
Arizona’s offense flashed promising firepower in the season opener Thursday, throwing together a four-homer fifth inning that chased starting pitcher Yu Darvish.
Yet the D-backs lost the game after turning a 6-1 deficit into a 7-6 lead. They put up two, zero and eight runs respectively in the following three games.
Through the hot-and-cold offensive performances, Arizona is batting .217 with a .642 OPS, both of which are good for 20th in the MLB through the first weekend of the year.
If there’s one player not to point the finger at regarding the offensive woes, it’s center fielder Ketel Marte. He has piled up 17 total bases in 16 at-bats.
Marte has nine hits, including a pair each of homers and doubles, and just two strikeouts. He’s batting .563, but the problem is Marte is not getting much support. He’s scored just four runs and tallied only three RBIs despite a .611 on-base percentage.
Only Marte and catcher Carson Kelly (5-of-8) are hitting above .250 so far.
Together, the core of what a few years ago was one of MLB’s most solid defensive middle infields has spent zero time at shortstop or second base so far.
Marte has spent all his time in center field instead of flip-flopping between the outfield and second base.
The knee issue that’s kept starting shortstop Nick Ahmed sidelined through four games — he’s now on the injured list — has only added to manager Torey Lovullo’s shuffling in the middle infield.
Offense has been the problem at those two positions.
Altogether, the players who at the time were listed at shortstop or second base have provided no hits and three walks with two runs scored in 32 plate appearances. Combined!
Spring sensation Josh Rojas (.063 BA) has gotten the majority of the time at short, but he’s also already played second base and right field. He has a single hit so far.
Eduardo Escobar (.000 BA) has mostly been at second base, allowing veteran offseason addition Asdrubal Cabrera to man third. Josh VanMeter and 21-year-old Gerardo Perdomo have also gotten in the mix at second and shortstop, respectively.
The Diamondbacks’ last two call-ups that have given them reasons to be excited about the organizational depth, at least.
Perdomo has walked and struck out without a hit in four at-bats, but he did flash the defensive instincts that put him No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s list of the team’s top prospects.
Before Perdomo’s call-up, pitcher Riley Smith was added to the roster for the season opener and provided long relief in Saturday’s 7-0 loss.
Smith survived 5.0 innings to follow starter Caleb Smith, taking Arizona the rest of the way and surrendering three runs (two earned) to go with four strikeouts.
The Arizona pitchers’ collective WHIP sits at 1.76, the fourth-worst mark in the majors.
Put a lot of the blame on the starters, who had an MLB-worst 2.36 collective WHIP before Taylor Widener — the guy who took injured starter Zac Gallen’s place in the rotation — threw a scoreless six frames on Sunday for Arizona’s first win of the season.
Before Widener gave the D-backs bullpen a bit of relief, Madison Bumgarner (6 ER, 4.0 IP), Merrill Kelly (3 ER, 4.0 IP) and Caleb Smith (3 ER, 3.0 IP) all got yanked before the first out of the fifth inning.
Arizona is 28th with 6.3 walks per nine innings pitched. At this point, that high rate leads the majors with two teams yet to play due to COVID-19 cancellations.
The Diamondbacks also have the second-lowest strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.43).
While the starters have struggled, the revamped Arizona bullpen has at least held its own despite the less-than-ideal extended workload. The relievers’ combined ERA sits at 3.38 despite having the second-worst strikeout-to-walk ratio in MLB (1.27).