It’s important to take a step back sometimes. The view from 5,000 feet can be useful. Getting into the nitty gritty is mostly what we aim for here, but every once in a while you’ve really got to examine the whole thing. The Diamondbacks have been bad this year and everyone knows it. The team has stunk, the front office has been an embarrassment, and at the end of the day, the Mega Dog might have just been the best part of this season. Well, that and Jake Lamb. The D-backs have fallen so far below the bulk of their competitors, I feel like we need to know just where the gaps and are and how big the void is. With about five weeks left to play, Let’s just see how weak the weak links are.

We’ll do this using FanGraphs’ version of WAR, and it’s got some flaws, especially for pitchers. A while back I advocated for looking at things through the lens of DRA because it’s a superior metric to FIP, but we’ll just run with fWAR throughout here for consistency’s sake. And it’s not like fWAR for teams does a bad job or anything. Look at how well the win totals correlate to fWAR. There’s a pretty strong tendency there.

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But when we break it down a little further, we can see where Arizona has struggled so much this season. Let’s run through the positions and see where they stack up.


  • MLB Rank: 5th
  • fWAR: 3.4

Welington Castillo continues to provide for the offense, even if the defense leaves much to be desired. He has technically improved in that area, though, and the team is considering an extension for him. Chris Herrmann provided a nice boost before his injury, too. The team appears set here, even if many of us would like to see a better defender behind the dish.

First Base

  • MLB Rank: 3rd
  • fWAR: 4.1

I really do think we may be seeing the decline of Paul Goldschmidt, and while he’s probably got another monster year or two in him, he’ll probably just be “very good” rather than “great” going forward. Oh well, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Second Base

  • MLB Rank: 10th
  • fWAR: 3.9

Second base is a deep position around the game right now, but Jean Segura has proven to be a real asset this season in his transition to the keystone. The team doesn’t seem keen on moving him back to short and it looks like he’ll likely stay in their 2017 plans. There are plenty of serviceable backup options at this spot as well.


  • MLB Rank: 26th
  • fWAR: 0.3

The shortstop position has been a thorn in the side of the D-backs for some time now. They let Didi Gregorius go and he’s looking mighty fine in those pinstripes. Chris Owings has battled the injuries and been forced to play elsewhere. Nick Ahmed has never figured out the whole hitting thing and there’s really no one waiting in the wings here.

Third Base

  • MLB Rank: 21st
  • fWAR: 1.9

Jake Lamb’s obviously proven to be a talented hitter, but his recent slump and missed time have cost the team. His defensive woes don’t help, but it’s not seemingly a matter of being incapable of playing the position, but rather fine-tuning. The team is 3rd in errors at third base with 21, 19 of which belong to Mr. Lamb. This is fixable.

Right Field

  • MLB Rank: 30th
  • fWAR: -1.5

Ouch. David Peralta dealt with injuries all year and for all the homers Yasmany Tomas hits, his defense is basically terrible, putting him in rare territory. Socrates Brito couldn’t add anything and the team’s best option going forward might be a guy who requested his own demotion last year in Mitch Haniger. It’s that bad.

Center Field

  • MLB Rank: 27th
  • fWAR: -0.1

A.J. Pollock is back, finally, and for all that Chris Owings and Michael Bourn have done to try to fill in, it’s been mostly in vain. Luckily a healthy Pollock for 2017 will solve this problem by itself, because there’s no one else capable of doing much to improve the situation.

Left Field

  • MLB Rank: 29th
  • fWAR: -1.9

The other outfield corner has been just as bad because, well, it’s the same guys playing it. Brandon Drury has been really bad out there while he’s trying to figure out how to hit, Tomas has had his share of troubles and the occasional start by Rickie Weeks Jr. doesn’t help. Only the Phillies have been worse in left field.

Starting Pitching

  • MLB Rank: 22nd
  • fWAR: 6.2

I don’t know, I kind of expected this to be worse. The staff has been bad, make no mistake, but there are plenty of teams that have performed more poorly. Greinke will do his thing again and hopefully Robbie Ray can, too. Behind them, it’s anyone’s guess. Can Patrick Corbin get back? Shelby Miller? Does Archie Bradley become more consistent? Can Rubby De La Rosa make his way back into the rotation? How the team decides to bet on it’s own starters this winter will be fascinating.

Relief Pitching

  • MLB Rank: 29th
  • fWAR: -0.2

The team’s most valuable reliever (Brad Ziegler) hasn’t played for them in over a month, their second-most valuable relievers (Tyler Wagner and Andrew Chafin) have been on the DL for a long time. They’ve got a bunch of dudes who are mostly not very good and it’s looking more and more like the team will need to rebuild the bullpen if they want to be taken seriously next year.

The Wins

Catcher, first base, second base, third base and center field are all set. There’s a core here that’s capable of buoying the offense. Many teams around the league are in far worse spots offensively, and with Chase Field providing a boost, the offense should be alright.

The Losses

There’s a lot to be done on the defensive side of the game. The corner outfield spots have been brutal, and it’s not a surprise that the outfield is the worst in the majors, just as I wrote early this season. The pitching staff needs all the help it can get and with plenty of big outfields to patrol, there’s a big incentive for the team to employ some more-capable corner outfielders. Shortstop provides it’s own challenges, but if they can keep getting good defense there, the team may choose to fight its battles elsewhere.

The starting staff is full of question marks, and for good reason. Something has to change and now would be a great time for the team to prove they are capable of fixing a starter or two. While some struggles were unforeseen, it’s the Diamondbacks’ responsibilities to fix those struggles. That’s what coaches get paid for. The relief side of the equation is a little more straightforward — they’re just short on talent after trading Ziegler and Tyler Clippard. They need more arms and better arms here. That’ll likely take some investment this winter.

If you were to choose, which is the biggest priority for the team this winter?

Which should be the Diamondbacks' biggest priority this winter?

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10 Responses to Time for a Checkup

  1. Larry Person says:

    I’d like to see a humidor and a new pitching coach. I think Chase Field has become the new Coors Field, and all pitchers will struggle here and post inflated ERAs. Maybe a humidor will offset that reality slightly. As for the new pitching coach…something is wrong with the coaching when every single pitcher goes south in the same year the coach arrives. Going into the season, I thought $200M would fix last year’s starting debacle, and also thought there were enough talented young arms in the bullpen that at least a few of them would take that last big step up to bullpen elite. None of that happened. I don’t think that means the entire staff are bums. I think it means the pitching coach failed miserably.

  2. Armand says:

    I voted for bullpen in believing that David Peralta will be healthy for next year but if he doesn’t stay healthy and durable from hear on out, our outfield will be too much of liability as much as is our bullpen at this time. I just don’t see anybody in our system or belief in our development of our pitchers from our coaches to think we can have an effective bullpen.

  3. Bradford says:

    Bullpen and bench depth need to be the top priorities this winter. What are the chances that Michael Bourn stays with the team as a reserve outfielder along with Haniger or Brito? Does Bourn provide enough value vs. possible offseason pickups, and if so, at what price would that value be reasonable?

  4. Lamar Jimmerson says:

    We can talk about improving the team all we want, but the question is how much the ownership will be willing to spend. There is a new freaking TV deal in place, all the old deferred money (save Greinke’s) is off the books…and payroll has stayed flat, at best, over the last two years.

    Dbacks are at $102M this year. Last year was $86M. 2014 was $109M.

    Just doing some quick eyeballing of 2017, looks like the minimum they would be looking at without any surprising non-tenders, and without any trades, would be around $95-97M. So unless the payroll goes up another level, you have enough to sign one elite RP, perhaps, or one average SP, and that’s it. There are other ways to spread it around, but unless someone expensive is dealt, this is largely the team they have.

    Again…unless Kendrick approves a hike to $120M or more. And with attendance likely be to be around 2M at most this year, is that likely?

    I don’t know how you fix this team from the outside. It will have to come from within: from coaching, development, strategic in-game decisions, creative trades, shrewd transactions. Is this FO up to that kind of thing? Is the coaching staff?

    The questions answer themselves.

    The fear I have is that the team’s leadership will be given another year, and simply via regression and better health the team will win around 80 games. Then we’ll be told that the corner has been turned, and how smart it was to give this regime more time, etc. And in reality the team will be no closer to contention than it is now.

    Hope I’m wrong about all of this.

  5. Alex says:

    Maybe they can shift Corbin to one of the outfield corners? He is leading the team in AVG after all! I kid… but it is sad to see how far he has fallen from pre-season “best #3 pitcher in baseball” to bullpen mop-up man.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Put me in the live ball camp helped destroy the pitching. Please the exit velo on the down in pitch from godley to votto. Mookie betts and altuve turning into home run hitters. Are the balls uniform too? Stupid year and it cost this staffm

  7. Michael McDermott says:

    They need to get rid of Tomas ASAP, he’s a terrible fit for Chase Field and it’s spacious outfield. Right now his dWAR steals from all of his oWAR value to the point where he isn’t giving the team any value at all. In order for Tomas to be an acceptable OF, he’s going to have to produce at least 2.5 oWAR. For a guy whose only real skill is power with no speed or defense, that’s going to be a tough hill to climb. He’s more valuable in the AL where he gets the occasional DH start.

  8. John O. says:

    Is it too much to suggest that perhaps the regression occurring in the pitching staff this season is a result of Mike Butcher? I understand that talent etc. plays a large role in it, but it seems that nearly universally the pitchers have done worse and the only unifying factor is the pitching coach. Anybody have any thoughts on that?

  9. Nick says:

    I think Dave has to go. How he was ever hired blows my mind. They need better and more analytics. It’s no wonder as to how and why former D’backs have been fantastic after leaving this organization. Start at the top, bring in somebody who can and will give their guys better scouting reports. Analytics are the new steroids in the way they give guys a competitive advantage and the D’backs are like the guys who refused to use them. Take morality out of that analogy and you will see my meaning.

  10. Dan C says:

    Honestly think they need to trade Greinke. Gives us some payroll flexibility and we should get 2 A prospect for him. I know he is our only reliable starter but we need to be able to spend some money on our bullpen.

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