D-backs Dig the Long Ball
Remember this winter when we discussed the D-backs’ offensive adjustments and the potential improvement?
Well, the D-backs have the best offense in the National League.
Through the games played on Tuesday, the D-backs are leading the NL in runs with 154 (
14 13 more than the second-ranked Phillies) [EDIT: whoops, bad math there…], particularly impressive coming on the heels of a 1-0 game. Further, this isn’t a schedule fluke — the D-backs 5.70 runs per game also leads the Senior Circuit.
Another impressive caveat is that much of the talk of offensive improvement was based on full seasons from Miguel Montero and Conor Jackson, neither of whom have been able to contribute much yet.
Here are the ranks in a few big categories:
Runs per game:
OPS+ (that’s park-adjusted OPS)
And one last one, and you may notice a recurring message on this blog — this is one baseball fan and writer who isn’t very concerned about strikeouts on offense. (Number in parentheses is team’s rank in runs scored.)
And while we’re here: The three teams who strike out the least on offense — Washington, Houston and San Francisco — happen to rank 13, 15 and 10 in scoring, respectively.
So who’s responsible for this bonanza, and is it sustainable? Well, at the risk of being vague, I suppose those answers are: it’s not entirely clear & we’ll see.
Some credit should go to Hitting Coach Jack Howell, under whom several D-backs hitters improved in 2009. Now with a full year and Spring Training, players have had a chance to fully buy in to the training methods Howell uses.
NL Player of the Month for April, Kelly Johnson, deserves a heap of credit, starting the year with a 166 OPS+. Stephen Drew has very quietly been good — this coming from a player who has been stronger in the second half in his career than in the first — getting on base at a fine .348 clip, and his power is yet to really come along.
Newcomer Adam LaRoche has been better at the outset than, I think, most would have expected, and Chris Snyder has taken the opportunity to get regular playing time and run with it, including hitting an epic blast in Houston on Monday.
Of course, save a thumbs-up for Chris Young. After an incredibly frustrating 2009 season, he burst out of the gate, hitting .301 with a fantastic .366 OBP in his first 26 games.
We’ll see where it goes from here, but armed with this offense, the D-backs are clearly in the thick of things in the West.