Arizona Diamondbacks’ best feats of 2023 include Thomas catch, Gallen shutout

Jan 1, 2024, 3:22 PM

Alek Thomas...

Alek Thomas #5 of the Arizona Diamondbacks walks across the field in the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers during Game Four of the World Series at Chase Field on October 31, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

What a wild 2023 for Arizona Diamondbacks baseball, an underdog that leapt from 74 wins in 2022 to an 84-78 record, first postseason berth since 2017 and the National League pennant.

Corbin Carroll established himself as one of the game’s bright young stars with an All-Star Game appearance and the Rookie of the Year award. Arizona had four All-Stars including NL starting pitcher Zac Gallen, overcame a nine-game losing streak to make the playoffs and gave Valley fans a team to rally around in pursuit of a championship.

Expectations are higher going into 2024, and in the spirit of New Year’s reflecting, here are memorable feats from 2023:

Craziest win: Diamondbacks score 16 runs vs. Braves

The Diamondbacks and Braves traded five-spots early in a back-and-forth slugfest that ended with a 16-13 Arizona win. Diamondbacks prospect Dominic Canzone delivered the game-tying knock in the eighth inning, his first MLB hit, and Geraldo Perdomo drove in the go-ahead runs with a double in the ninth off closer Raisel Iglesias. Kevin Ginkel struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to pick up the save.

It was the first Diamondbacks game ever with both teams scoring 13 runs.

Honorable mentions go to Arizona’s 13-inning, walk-off victory over the Cubs in September and the Diamondbacks scoring four runs in the ninth inning to beat the Tigers in June.

Most clutch playoff moment: NLCS Game 4 comeback over Phillies

The Diamondbacks trailed 5-3 with five outs to work with at Chase Field against the Phillies and at risk of falling behind 3-1 in the NLCS.

Alek Thomas came up off the bench as the tying run against Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel and delivered the home run of his career to right-center field.

Gabriel Moreno punched the go-ahead single in the eighth inning, and Arizona evened the series at 2-2. The D-backs guaranteed a chance to win it in Philadelphia, and they proved they didn’t travel across the country to get their “(expletives) kicked.”

Best single-game performance: Zac Gallen shutout

Gallen earned his first career complete-game shutout in September against the Cubs, a monumental victory for the D-backs in their postseason pursuit. Arizona was chasing Chicago in the wild card race when Gallen gave his club nine innings, three hits, a walk and nine strikeouts in a 1-0 victory at Wrigley Field.

The D-backs jumped the Cubs to reach the postseason, winning six of seven games during their season series.

Best catch: Alek Thomas

Thomas made a lot of tough plays look easy in center field in 2023 en route to a second straight top three finish for Gold Glove. But a ninth-inning tumbling grab in August against the Rangers looked impossible until the ball landed in his mitt.

Thomas covered nearly 100 feet and held on while sliding on the warning track to record the first out of the ninth, a major assist to Paul Sewald picking up the save.

The catch was good enough to win the Rawlings Gold Glove Play of the Year.

Hardest hit: Ketel Marte

Ketel Marte hit the only three 115-mph rockets of 2023 for Arizona, and on Aug. 28, he smacked the hardest-hit ball recorded in the Statcast era (since 2015) by a Diamondbacks player.

The switch-hitter batting from the right side smoked a double into the left-field corner off Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Alex Vesia at Dodger Stadium. The hit was recorded at 117.1 mph off the bat. The next highest exit velocity by a D-backs player in the Statcast era was a Mark Trumbo single back in 2015  at 116.5 mph followed by a Marte double in 2019 at 116.3 mph.

Longest home run: Evan Longoria

Leave it to a day game at Coors Field. Evan Longoria rocked an Austin Gomber meatball 463 feet to left-center field in the second inning of a game in April. That was the longest home run of Longoria’s career.

The furthest estimated home run by a Diamondback at Chase Field was hit by Christian Walker, a 459-footer off Miami Marlins lefty Braxton Garrett in May.

Absurd speed moment: Corbin Carroll scored on this?

From Carroll’s first at-bat, his speed has been a difference maker for the Diamondbacks, and he had several eye-widening examples in 2023.

A moment of absurdity came in June when he scored from first base on Christian Walker single up the middle against the Nationals. Sure, there certainly could have been more urgency in the outfield to get the ball in, especially with Carroll racing around, but he still scored from first on a routine grounder up the box. There’s a lot to say in terms of telling the story of Carroll’s rookie year, but “Hey, remember when he scored from first on a single up the middle?” fits into the book.

Best MLB debut: Andrew Saalfrank

In early September when the Diamondbacks called up left-handed reliever Andrew Saalfrank for bullpen depth, he became a keystone member of the unit down the stretch of the regular season.

Saalfrank recorded five outs with a pair of strikeouts in his MLB debut against the Rockies and did not allow an earned run in 10.1 innings pitched in his first big league experience.

Most patient: Geraldo Perdomo

Perdomo made life tough on pitchers looking to attack the No. 9 hitter, working as a second lead-off man to flip the order. Perdomo, an All-Star replacement in 2023, only hit .246 but still managed to finish third on Arizona with a .353 on-base percentage.

Of the 168 players with at least 450 plate appearances, Perdomo ranked third with 0.74 walks per strikeout. His chase and whiff rates were lowest on the team, and he continued to be gritty at the plate during the postseason.

Best roster move: Locking in Corbin Carroll

The Diamondbacks made quite the commitment during spring training by locking in Carroll to an eight-year contract worth $111 million and an option for Year 9.

Carroll spent a month and change in the major leagues in 2022 as the No. 1 prospect in the organization. He rewarded the club by winning the NL Rookie of the Year award unanimously, and the Diamondbacks have a star to build around for nearly the next decade.

Honorable mention goes to trading Daulton Varsho for Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Gabriel Moreno, although the trade went down before the calendar turned to 2023.

Best celebration: Pool party 2023

The Diamondbacks got to celebrate in the Chase Field pool twice in 2023. They dove in after clinching a wild card spot in the final weekend of the regular season and again after sweeping the Dodgers in the NLDS.

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