It’s a bit odd to think about how this season has gone – a season of juxtapositions. There was the splashy offseason that produced an interesting team on paper mirrored by the team on the field that is contending only for the top pick in next year’s draft. There’s early season Daniel Hudson and a midsummer night’s ‘mare Daniel Hudson. And of course, there’s the history the team is chasing for how bad they are at home relative to how passable the team is on the road.
I wrote a few weeks ago about this history in the context of their crazy home and road winning percentage differentials and until the massacre of Diamondbacks pitching in Boston last weekend, the team was nearly on pace to cement their place in history. Nevertheless, while knocking themselves off course in their pursuit of infamy, the team did it in an uncanny but characteristically consistent manner.
After sweeping the Mets in New York, the team moved on to Boston and were promptly swept in impressive fashion. While the team has swept a series and been swept afterwards many times throughout their history, this occasion was special. Leaving New York, the run differential for their series against the Mets was +12. Ok, not that impressive – the team has had 294 other three game stretches throughout their history with a higher run differential. But to then follow that up by going to Boston and being outscored by 22 runs in three consecutive losses is actually unprecedented for this team. In franchise history, the team has never had a larger run differential swing in consecutive series than the one they had between New York and Boston.
I think the hardest thing a fan can do is find meaning in a lost season. This isn’t an easy team to figure out and they’re not always easy to watch, but despite their failings, there’s something I find so interesting about this team. Yes, all teams go through hot and cold stretches, but likely through nothing more than variability, the Diamondbacks have done it so complementary this season. It’s like they’re playing to the tune of that Kate Perry song – they’re hot then they’re cold. There seems to be little middle ground for how this team performs. While in summation the results are skewed negatively, there’s a certain beauty to this team’s exaggerated streakiness.
I don’t know what the right way is when it comes to watching a bad baseball team. Should fans root for the team to lose to improve their draft status? Should they root for the team to win regardless of the circumstances? Baseball, as with all sports, isn’t a rational emotional investment. There probably isn’t a right way to watch it and a right way to be a fan, but I think there is one constant that keeps people coming back – baseball provides meaning. Finding meaning isn’t always easy, and it’s probably a lot harder when the team you follow isn’t very good, but maybe for Diamondbacks fans, there’s some to be found in the chaos and streakiness. There is for me anyway.
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FanGraphs Stats Glossary
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BP Base Running Stats
Previously on The Pool Shot, the guys explained some of their favorite advanced stats. Hitting, including wRC+, HHAV and batted ball; pitching (38:00), including FIP, xFIP and SIERA; and baserunning and defense, including UBR, UZR and DRS (58:00).