The Arizona Diamondbacks are off to the second-best start in Major League Baseball, behind the Boston Red Sox. A .677 winning percentage has put the Diamondbacks 4.5 games ahead of the second place Colorado Rockies. Much of this has been due to the excellent starting pitching and relief efforts in Arizona.
AJ Pollock’s offense leads the way for the Diamondbacks.
First, let’s start with the offense. The effort in 2018 has been led by centerfielder AJ Pollock. Pollock ranks fourth in the majors in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) at 1.9, behind Mookie Betts, Didi Gregorius and Mike Trout. Two anomalies with Pollock are that of the top six players in WAR, he is the only one with a sub-10% walk percentage and an over-20% strikeout percentage. That goes to show how dominant Pollock has been when putting the bat on the ball.
Pollock’s batting average on balls in play is .325 and he has a .435 wOBA. Pollock is also fifth in wRC+ (weighted runs created) at 180. On top of that, Pollock has smacked ten home runs in 2018. He isn’t the only one contributing as David Peralta and Paul Goldschmidt have put in work also with a 148 and 127 wRC+.
Patrick Corbin is one of the best in baseball.
Leading the way for the fifth best starting rotation in baseball is Patrick Corbin. Corbin has pitched his way to a 4-0 record with a 2.15 ERA and 2.99 FIP. On balls in play, opposing batters are hitting just .208. Even when Corbin is not sitting down batters on strikes, they aren’t hitting anything substantial off the bat. His 50.5% ground ball rate is seventh best in the Majors among pitchers with 40-plus innings pitched. The rotation as a whole is fifth in fielding independent pitching, fifth in ERA, and seventh in WAR.
A shutdown bullpen completes this Arizona Diamondbacks team.
Arizona’s relief pitching also finds itself with the fifth best FIP in baseball. Archie Bradley has collected a 0.7 WAR this season, the highest in the bullpen. Bradley has allowed just a .237 BABIP and has produced a 51.4% ground ball rate. A 1.81 FIP and 1.62 ERA has made Bradley one of the most consistent relief pitchers in baseball. Leading the team in saves is closer Brad Boxberger with ten. Boxberger has put up an impressive 11.08 strikeouts per nine innings ratio.
Are the Arizona Diamondbacks the favorites to win the National League West?
With pitching like this, there is no doubt that the Diamondbacks have a shot to make a run this season. The Diamondbacks’ top-15 offense is not far behind the pitching and there is plenty of time for the lineup to shape up as the season progresses. Holding off the rest of this competitive NL West will surely not be an easy task, but expect Arizona to at least grab a Wild Card slot if not win the division outright.