It's amazing what a fast start can do.
Prior to the start of the season, the Arizona Diamondbacks were being widely ridiculed for their decision to trade star outfielder Justin Upton, a guy who had hit .278/.357/.475 and blasted 108 home runs before reaching the age of 25. Some, including myself, laughed at the Diamondbacks for giving up talent -- Upton and Trevor Bauer -- for intangibles. Getting guys like Martin Prado and Didi Gregorius but not much else in return for those two players had just about everyone questioning the motives of Kevin Towers, Kirk Gibson and others within the organization.
But now, after jumping out to a 25-18 start after a quarter-season of play, the Diamondbacks simply ask: Who's laughing now?
The tone of the Upton deal, in particular, changed from "HAHAHAHA IDIOTS" to "well, they could have at least got more in return" after the likes of Gregorius, Paul Goldschmidt, Gerardo Parra, Eric Chavez and Patrick Corbin helped the D-Backs to the National League West lead.
Gregorius, a guy previously considered as a mostly-glove shortstop, was acquired in the Trevor Bauer deal and owns a .354/.414/.582 line, good for a 167 OPS+.
Parra, who took over in Upton's stead in right field, is hitting .320/.385/.494, yet remains one of baseball's most underrated players. Parra is tied with another vastly underrated Diamondback in rWAR among position players in NL, making it very hard to continue to ignore the duo.
#44 / First Base / Arizona Diamondbacks
Sep 10, 1987
|2013 - Paul Goldschmidt||.333||.414||.635|
Goldschmidt boasts that tremendous slash line shown above and leads the NL in slugging, OPS, OPS+ and total bases. He's also tied for the league lead in games played, a simple-but-important statistic that is often overlooked, as Rockies fans know very well. Goldschmidt has belted 12 home runs -- more than double the amount of any of his teammates -- and has knocked in team-leading 35 runs.
Arguably the most surprising player in terms of offensive production on Arizona's roster is Eric Chavez, the 35-year-old lefty who resurrected his career with the New York Yankees a year ago and has continued the trend in the desert. Chavez is hitting .330/.388/.564, good for a 155 OPS+, while gradually receiving more playing time as the season wears on.
As we learned from this past offseason, Arizona is certainly not shy about making trades in recent years; a few years back, the team dealt Dan Haren when he was in the middle of his prime. Haren was coming off of two straight All-Star campaigns for the D-Backs in which he posted league-leading K/BB numbers and was striking out batters at a career-best rate. Among the players the Los Angeles Angels sent to Arizona in return was young starting pitcher Patrick Corbin.
Corbin had a promising debut as a 22-year-old in 2012, finishing with a 4.54 ERA/91 ERA+ but walking just 2.1 batters per nine innings while punching out more than seven. Despite slightly worse K/BB numbers this year, Corbin has improved to the tune of a 1.52 ERA/263 ERA+ by getting more groundball outs and keeping the ball in the park. While he is certainly due for some regression, Corbin possesses very good command which will help him continue to be successful in the big leagues.
Game 1: Monday, May 20 at 6:40 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports)
Patrick Corbin (6-0, 1.52 ERA) vs. Jon Garland (3-4, 4.89 ERA)
Game 2: Tuesday, May 21 at 6:40 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports)
Ian Kennedy (2-3, 4.88) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (3-3, 4.07)
Game 3: Wednesday, May 22 at 1:10 p.m. MT (no TV)
Trevor Cahill (3-4, 2.48) vs. Jorge De La Rosa (5-3, 3.58)