On Monday, Dave Cameron posted an article titled, “Why Do The Angels Suck?” I know what you’re thinking: this is a Diamondbacks site. Well, you are correct, but I want to look at the data that was presented regarding the Angels and apply it to our beloved Arizona Diamondbacks, if I may.
You see, Cameron used entirely context-neutral data to examine Anaheim (I’m not calling them Los Angeles). By stripping away things like park effects and other noise, we get a very clear picture of what has actually taken place. For this, he used wOBA (weighted on-base average). If you’re not familiar with the stat, you should familiarize yourself with it. By breaking down the Angels via wOBA, he determined that the Angels should be a .500 team. They’re not.
The Angels have put together a team offensive wOBA of .325, the fifth best mark in the league. Unfortunately for them, they’ve also assembled a .326 defensive team wOBA, reflecting the team’s poor pitching and defense (sixth worst mark in baseball). The nearly identical components (offense and defense) would suggest that the team should be about 65-65 right now but, surprisingly, they’re not.
So what’s remarkable about this? The Diamondbacks are right next to the Angels when it comes to wOBA differential. And guess what: we’re just about .500 where we belong, unlike Anaheim.
Arizona has put together an offensive team wOBA of .314, 14th best in the majors, or right about average. I don’t think that any of us would argue that the team has been any better than average offensively, especially when one considers the myriad of injuries and slumps that have somehow come together and descended on the team this year. It’s been a tough year at the plate, I don’t know how else to say it.
Defensively, the Diamondbacks have assembled a .317 wOBA, ranking 19th in baseball. This reflects the team’s struggles on the mound, notably the ineffectiveness of Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill, David Hernandez and others. In terms of pure defense, the team is well above average, ranking near the top of the leader board in fielding, meaning that the low defensive wOBA ranking is purely a reflection of poor pitching.
But “poor pitching” isn’t necessarily an accurate description of what has bitten the Snakes in 2013. Rather, it’s been the long ball, the one hit where the defense can’t help the pitcher. The staff has posted the fifth highest home run/fly ball ratio in the majors this year, which should come as no surprise to those of us who have taken in their games. Arizona’s K/9 and BB/9 numbers are average or slightly better, but the home runs have killed this team.
As if allowing the fifth most home runs weren’t enough, the team has hit the sixth fewest. This imbalance has doomed the squad. The Orioles, for example, have given up a the most home runs in the league but have fought them off by hitting the most in response. Consequently, they’re still in the playoff race. The Diamondbacks, however, have been unable to respond offensively at an adequate level to the mess that the pitching staff has created. You can give up a lot of homers as long as you hit them in bunches, too, but Arizona gives them up with regularity and doesn’t hit them at pace that’s even close.
I suppose none of this is earth-shattering news, as we’ve bore witness to a lot of tough losses this year, but there are always new ways to look at the team. Hopefully next year at this time we’ll be examining and re-examining and re-re-examining all of the things that have put the Diamondbacks in the NL West driver’s seat. One can certainly dream, right?
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