2016 Record: 69-93
2016 Finish: 24th in the MLB, 12th in NL
2016 in Review
The Arizona Diamondbacks had high hopes for 2016. They made some strong choices in the offseason and were riding the momentum of their relatively successful 2015 campaign. I say relatively successful in that the Diamondbacks did much better than anticipated. Patrick Corbin came back strong, Rubby De La Rosa looked solid and Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, Ender Inciarte and David Peralta were coming into their own. All that was needed were a few tweaks here and there and we had a hot team on the rise.
The Diamondbacks tweaked things a bit too much. First off, we have the Shelby Miller trade that sent Ender Inciarte, Aaron Blair and Dansby Swanson to the Braves for Miller. In the last game of Spring Training, A.J. Pollock broke his elbow sliding into home plate. Pollock was a major contributor in 2015, and without his services in 2016 the club would suffer. Who would’ve been a great fit for that spot in the outfield? Ender Inciarte. WOOPS. That’s not great.
Then Shelby Miller took to the mound. In his first start of the season, Miller gave up 6 runs on 8 hits over 6 innings. In his 20 starts in 2016, Shelby Miller would give up 3 or more runs 13 times. His ERA would balloon to 6.15, going 3-12 for the year. Shelby Miller was the biggest disappointment of the year, but more on that later.
Long story short, the Diamondbacks did not live up to their potential in 2016, not by a long shot. In fact, the Diamondbacks were set up to two steps forward in 2016 but instead took four steps back. Zach Greinke’s signing is a great example of this. The signing came after Greinke’s insane 19-win 1.66 ERA season in 2015 with the Dodgers. At the time he signed it, his 6-year, $206.5 million dollar deal seemed about right. What the Diamondbacks got instead was 6-years, $20 million dollars instead. Greinke’s ERA leaped to it’s highest since his time in the dark ages of the mid-2000s Kansas City Royals, as did his Hits per 9 innings, and his strikeouts through 9 innings took its biggest dip since 2013. And now the Diamondbacks could possibly be saddled with his expensive contract far into the twilight of his career. (The guy’s gonna bounce back, chill.)
That’s not to say there weren’t some pleasant surprises in 2016 for Arizona. If you look just a little to Paul Goldschmidt’s right, you’ll see the new star of the desert, Jean Segura. This 26-year-old 2B came over in a deal from the Milwaukee Brewers, in exchange for Aaron Hill and Chase Anderson. Segura was exactly what the doctor ordered after A.J. Pollock went to the DL. Segura’s slash line doesn’t read like a normal leadoff hitter, here I’ll show you. The stat line below is either Segura’s, A.J. Pollock’s from 2015 or it’s Paul Goldschmidt’s from this year.
That’s Segura’s. And it’s insane. Segura also racked up numbers that were better than Goldschmidt’s snagging 33 bases, 41 doubles, 203 hits and 20 home runs. Segura was insane this past year and it was a bright light in the darkness that was 2016 in Phoenix. Until…
Jean Segara was traded this November to the Seattle Mariners for SS Ketel Marte and Starter Taijuan Walker.
I tried for the longest time to make this about the players because blaming the front office is easy. Hindsight is 20/20, but in the case of the Arizona Diamondbacks, hindsight is shameful/shameful. The Atlanta Braves knew that Shelby Miller wasn’t gonna live up to the hype, but you gave up the NUMBER ONE PICK IN THE 2015 DRAFT FOR HIM. If you don’t make that trade your infield is one of the best in the league, but you went after pitching. Good pitching in the AL West is top notch. Kershaw, Bumgarner, Cueto, Greinke, etc. it’s a conference of very good pitchers. The Diamondbacks are trying to beat good pitching with good pitching which is impossible. The way to beat good pitching is with good offense. Let’s take a look at the NL Wild Card game from this year for example. Two incredible pitchers and the game was won on one swing of the bat.
One a fluke, twice a habit. That’s what these trades are for me. The Shelby Miller trade will go down as an awful move, but this Segura for Marte and Walker move isn’t much better. Marte doesn’t hold a candle to Segura’s offensive prowess, and Walker is more or less a clone of Chase Anderson and Anthony DeSclafani. Regardless, both players were vastly overpaid for by the Diamondbacks front office.
I want to be optimistic here, you guys. I really want to say that this year was a struggle and 2017 will see the Diamondbacks bounce back and be somewhat competitive. I just don’t think you can bank on that. This year was too much of a setback with the injuries and the downturn in quality of play. Perhaps 2017 will provide a reset for the organization. I hope it is, because when this team has all of its pieces firing on all cylinders, they are fun to watch. However, in order for that to happen, the front office can’t be trading away all of those pieces.