What Happend to the DBacks?

Did the DBacks Great Pitching Fail Them?

About a week ago I was trying to figure out what happend to the Cubs after a series sweep to the Arizona Diamondbacks. I really didn’t have any anwsers. But Tim McCarver in all his infinite baseball wisdom said, “Any weakness you have will be exploited in the playoffs.”

McCarver is the biggest blowbag on televison and amongst whining and complaining and erroneous statements came up with this goody reference to a certain batters inability to lay off high fastballs.

However, The Diamondbacks were a team that the Rockies were designed to beat. And with their average pitching staff exploited a DBacks team that could not provide the one thing needed to win games – Runs. Prior to this year there have been only 15teams with so-called average pitching clubsto wintheWorldSeries of 52 similar teams to make the playoffs.All of those clubs, except two, areof the same make up of Colorado,average pitching and great hitting. These averagepitching/great hittingteams now have a series record of21-4 against great pitching clubs.

Arizona is a rare exception as well. They had the bestrecord in the NL but they had a negativerun differential. Their 90wins was the lowest for a non-strike year regular season champion since the schedule expanded to 162 games. They are one of fewteams with BAD hittingto make the playoffs and only thesecond of such nine entries since 1969 to have bad hitting (1985 Royals are the other) to win a playoff series. Arizona had the third worst R/G average in the NL ahead of only SF andWashington.

WhileI will consider the Diamondbacks a goodpitching team it should be noted they werewell behindleague leadersCubs and Padres. Even though theyhad the third best pitching in theNL their numbers put them closer to the middle of the pack than the Friars at the top.

Arizona did what normal great pitching teams do. They beat up on the bad teams while splitting games with other strong teams. They were 34-16 against the NL cellar dwellars and 18-18 when matched up against playoff teams.

While it is easier for pitching dependant teamsto get to the playoffs forthevirtue mentioned above in the playoffs they do not get to beatup on thePittsburghs, Floridas and San Franciscos and tend to struggle unless their hitting can come through.

Colorado’s pitching was veryclose to the mean and median ofNL clubs. In a playoff seriesstaffs are shortened and the dregs of the pen and starting staff are gone. Ifeel this very often neutralisesa great pitching (Arizona)opponents strength to the average pitching teams (Colorado) advantage.To a pointwhere there shoulda no contest. Even if we match these teams player by player there is littlepure advantage. Yes, Brandon Webb is better than Jeff Francis as an ace but noone is surprised if Jeff Francis can pitch a gemand noone is surprised if the Rockieshitting can get to Webb.In the same breathbenches areNEVER shortened in the playoffs. The best players play 150 gamesand will not get an offday except in the rare platoon situation. So, the great hitting team gets to play their8 best hitters (9in the AL) against their opponent while their strong pitching opponentwho may have stronger than normal 3,4,5 starters and situational or longrelievers will become a non-factor over a short series. Does this makesense?

If you look at my articles from last fall on the failure of the Atlanta Braves in the playoffs we will knowthat they very often had the best pitchingin the regular season and theyactually pitched better in losing playoff after losing playoff year.

Same thing happend to theDiamondbacks this season. After posting a respectable 4.52 R/Gand 4.13ERA in the regular seasonthey turn in an improved outing of4.25 R/G and 3.00 ERA in the NLCS. They held a dynamite hitting Rockies team to a .222/.316/.311 over four games in which they held the lead once and lost every game and looked like chumps.

Was it the terribleZona hittingthat let them down ordid the Rockies average pitching staff step it up and could have shut down the 1931 A’s.

I have said it before andthis disapointment of the DBacks this year, a team with great pitching will only get them into the playoffs, once there their hitting will carry them to Championship Rings.

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15 replies on “What Happend to the DBacks?”
  1. says: Callum

    It is hard to make generalizations about the playoffs where anything can happen in a 7 game series. Colorado was also the best defensive team in the league. They have the pitching and the defense and the hitting to win a championship.

  2. says: Early

    True, they do have the pitching, hitting and defence that could win the championship. Everything is schewed in a 7 game series and even more so in a 4 game series. It is interesting to see how often a team has such bad series stats but comes out a head or in Col case a sweep.

  3. Although I do agree with Callum that it’s hard to make generalizations about such a short series, I think your pitching-hitting analysis is phenomenal.

    One thing, as far as starting pitching goes, on any given day, a starter can have a bad day. During the course of the season, the good days outweigh the bad for ace pitchers, but on any one day, (i.e. a high profile playoff start) anythings can happen (for example, see most of the high-profile starters in this postseason not counting Josh Beckett). The same thing applies with star hitters, but good hitting teams generally have a bunch of them. If one struggles, the others can take up the slack, and there’s always a chance that non-stars can step up.

    I’ve heard about pitching winning postseasons, but your opposite perspective makes a whole lot of sense. Of course there can be pitching heroics, but I can see how short series can tip the balance in favour of hitting. I’ll have to check out your articles on the Braves…

  4. says: daperman

    Non hitting becomes contagious. When you can’t hit you are finished.
    I’ll finish the thought later gotta run

  5. says: Kman

    I felt going in the Rockies had the pitching advantage.

    Francis was their ace for the entire season. Fogg was the typical 4.50 ERA guy steping up that we see every year. Yet rounding out the rotation were two young studs in Morales & Jimmenez. Post All-Star, the Rockies had the lowest team ERA in the NL at 3.86 per game. The Dbacks were close to half a run behind at 4.36.

    Weird Note: Cleveland led the AL in 2nd half ERA. If things shape up, they could meet in the World Series.

  6. says: daperman

    What happened to the light hitting teams in the playoffs. Their managers never tried to manufacture runs to help them get going. Angels for example. Bats fell asleep but when they did get runners on they were not their aggressive selves.

    In the third game of the ALDS they had runners on first with less than two out and did not try to steal or hit and run. Instead they were anchored as the inevitable cold bat double play ended any threat. Another instance when they had a runner on first with none out the double play was avoided but the runner stayed there until there were two out and then Scoicia puts on a successful hit and run. Big deal with the cold bats a run scoring hit second hit did not come. A stolen base earlier results in a run with the hit. Melvin and Scoicia played not to lose with their punch and judy hitting lineups.

  7. I didn’t know that their ERA was so good during the second half… In a way, looking at second half stats could be a better indicator than looking at the full season. Just as looking at the Rockies 2007 season is more reliable than looking at the last two years combined, looking at the last half of the season might be closer to how the team is faring *now*. Of course, you could look at the last 21 games, for that matter.

  8. says: Callum

    I didn’t say it was a small sample. The sample size issue I speak of is that 1/3 of the games are skewed due to teams fielding minor league lineups.

  9. says: Kman

    In recent times, many teams don’t do the whole minor league roster gimmick, at least with the starting line-ups. One area that does bug me is the 15 man bullpens that some teams carry.

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