How the Arizona Diamondbacks Have Managed to Cling to First Place
Photo by Jim Louvau
Somehow, the Arizona Diamondbacks find themselves at the top of the NL West at the all-star break.
Arizona has had its difficulties this year, including injuries to multiple starters, 24 games without a win by a starting pitcher, and bipolar play, in which the team will follow up a terrible series with a wonderful next series. But, despite the hardships, the Diamondbacks have stayed in first for most of the year, so here's a list of five things that have helped the Diamondbacks reach their 50-45 mark.
5. Paul Goldschmidt
Without Goldschmidt, the D-backs would probably be at the bottom of the NL West; instead, they're at the top, thanks in large part to the all-star. Goldschmidt leads the Diamondbacks in just about every offensive category -- even stolen bases, with nine. Goldschmidt has already eclipsed last season's home run total of 20, with 21 long balls this year, good enough for fourth-best in the NL. America's First Baseman has been Mr. Everything for Arizona this year. It's a shame Kirk Gibson doesn't try him as a pitcher, as he would probably be better at relieving games than half of the bullpen.
4. The Rest of the Division Sucks
Arizona has clung on to first place for most of the year, which says more about how bad the division is than how good the D-backs have been. The Diamondbacks have wavered just above .500 all year, while the rest of the division has battled for second place. First, it was the Giants, but their pitching failed them. The Padres and Rockies have returned to mediocrity after challenging Arizona for first place for the first few months of the season. And now Puig-mania has energized the Dodgers to a .500 record. The D-backs have had every chance to take control of the division and, hopefully, after the all-star break, the Diamondbacks can finally put the division in the bag.
3. Patrick Corbin
Over the last week Corbin proved why he is an all-star, allowing two earned runs, while striking out 20 in 14.2 innings. This season, Corbin has 11 wins and a 2.35 ERA, as opposed to the rest of the starting pitchers, who are a combined 17-41 with a 4.51 ERA. If I were to say back in April that the Diamondbacks would be under .500 without Corbin, you would have thought I should be institutionalized. Yet, this season Corbin has been the only consistent pitcher on the Diamondbacks' roster, and if he continues pitching like he did last week, he could make a run at the CY Young.
In every sport ,there's always some douchebag who sports the adage "defense wins championships." Well, for the D-backs, without their defense, there is no way Arizona would be in first place. Depending on what lineup manager Kirk Gibson puts together on a given night, Arizona may just have the best defensive outfield in the league. A.J. Pollock is single-handedly winning games with his defense, and Gerardo Parra has a sniper rifle attached to his left shoulder.
1. Kevin Towers
During the off-season, K.T. was heavily criticized for the trades he made. He first sent the poor attitude and lyrical stylings of Trevor Bauer to Cleveland in exchange for a defensive shortstop. Well, Didi Gregorius has not only played admirable defense, but he has sparked the offense as well. Then, of course, Towers discarded talented outfielder Justin Upton for Martin Prado and Randall Delgado. Upton is hitting a career-low .255 and has hit just four homers after a monstrous April. Delgado has proved serviceable in a few spot starts this season, and Prado seems to have finally started to pick up the pace offensively, including a game-winning single.
Now the Diamondbacks will seek to remain in first place for the rest of year. Hopefully, Goldschmidt will continue to rake and Corbin will continue his dominant start. Towers needs to trade for some pitching help before the deadline, as it's hard to watch this team piss away leads night after night. And most importantly, the D-backs should heed Martin Prado's words and "check yourself before you wreck yourself," whatever the hell that means.
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