ESPN’s Passan, others say D-backs have legitimate shot at World Series title
Oct 3, 2023, 3:02 PM | Updated: 3:35 pm
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
The Arizona Diamondbacks only won 84 games this season and backed into the NL Wild Card series with the Milwaukee Brewers by losing their last four games.
But they could still win it all.
And it’s not just wishful thinking.
Teams in similar circumstances – and win totals — have both made it to the World Series and won it all, according to Will Leitch of MLB.
According to Leitch, six teams with 85 wins or less have made it to the playoffs in the wild card era (1995-present). While most of those teams did not make it past the American or National League Championship series, the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals won it all.
That St. Louis Cardinals team is the World Series winner with the worst regular season record in Major League Baseball history at 83-78.
D-backs have defense, bullpen strengths to lean on
ESPN’s Jeff Passan says the biggest strengths of the D-backs heading into the matchup with the Brewers is defense, a recently stingy bullpen and game-changing baserunning.
“This is a good team, and if it can go on a heater, it can be great,” he says.
The statistics back that statement.
According to the Fielding Bible, the D-backs are the fourth best team in MLB and the third best in the National League in defensive runs saved. They trail only their opponent in the wild card round, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League.
They are particularly strong in left field and catcher, according to the website.
Passan adds that even though the D-backs bullpen struggled heavily in June and July, a strong performance in September belies hope it can continue in the playoffs.
“The much-maligned Arizona relief corps had the second-best ERA in baseball during September,” Passan said.
According to Statmuse, the D-backs had the 20th best bullpen ERA in 2023 with a 4.48 ERA.
D-backs are tops in baserunning
Theo DeRosa of MLB.com recently ranked the D-backs as the top baserunning team in this year’s playoffs, and, “the D-backs have little competition for the top spot on this list.”
The Diamondbacks stole the second most bases in MLB this season with 166, trailing only the Cincinnati Reds’ 190 stolen bases.
Corbin Carroll’s 59 stolen bases and elite speed – 30 ft/sec according to Statcast — are among the tops in the game, but five other D-backs have double-digit steals.
And their baserunning defense is near the top as well, with massive contributions from catcher Gabriel Moreno.
The D-backs allowed only 83 stolen bases this season, good for third fewest and opposing teams’ success rate of 71.6% is second fewest.
“Arizona might not quite be No. 1 in any one category, but it’s the best all-around team in the postseason field — and in all of MLB — at both stealing bases and preventing opponents from doing so,” DeRosa wrote.
While all of these points of note show that the D-backs can win it all — even Passan predicts they won’t make it out of the NL Wild Card series against the Brewers.