Well That Was an Interesting Series

Over the course of the first 29 games of the season the Arizona Diamondbacks have played 22 of those games against National League Western Division opponents. If you take into consideration that the entire National League Western Division with the exception of the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the Cactus League for Spring Training (the Dodgers join the Cactus league in 2009), the Diamondbacks have played National League West opponents 34 times. This concentration of games against divisional opponents could breed complacency since you are going against the same players day after day. The other thing it does is bring about some interesting insight of what can be expected in the National League West for the remainder of the season.

Let’s start by taking a look at the records that the Diamondbacks accumulated against divisional opponents during the first month of the season through today’s game:

  • Colorado Rockies – 3-3
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – 1-4
  • San Diego Padres – 3-2
  • San Francisco Giants – 3-3

The Diamondbacks have played each team fairly evenly with the exception of the Los Angeles Dodgers who have owned the Diamondbacks number so far. Not only have the teams been evenly matched in victories, they are likewise matched closely in the scores. Let’s breakdown the opponents by runs and see how close the scores have been so far this year. The first number will represent the Diamondbacks runs while the second number will represent the opponent’s runs.

  • Colorado Rockies – 29-35
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – 16-16
  • San Diego Padres – 26-29
  • San Francisco Giants – 16-17

The run differential against the Rockies is partly due to games at Coors Field where each team had a game where they scored 8 or more runs. The Dodgers differential was partially skewed by the 9-1 victory the Diamondbacks had on Monday April 30. Even taking these anomalies out of the equation it is clear that the teams within the National League Western division are very evenly matched. In the 22 regular season games so far only 5 games were decided by greater than 3 runs. Ten of the 22 games were decided by 1 run. With half the games being decided by a single run, a team’s fortunes could instantly change.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are a very young ball club. Most of the positional players have less than three years Major League experience. Being involved in so many close games can only help them as the season progresses. If the coaches take the approach of instilling in the players that they are always in the game their confidence should grow which will pay big dividends in August and September. We always hear players and managers tout that it is a long season and that we should not worry too much about the outcome of individual games. That is a little misleading since the last time I checked a win in April was worth just as much as one in September. If the Diamondbacks can continue to try and find ways to stay close to the teams in their division and where possible pull ahead for a hard fought victory it will go a long ways towards padding the win column. Baseball writers and fans may look at the win loss column against the Dodgers and say they are definitely the team to beat since they are 4-1 against their closest challenger but digging deeper we can see that the Diamondbacks could have just as easily seen themselves with a 4-1 record since 3 of the 4 games were decided by 2 runs or less. A couple of timely hits or aggressive base running exploits and this would be a very different situation.

After the first two game series against the Dodgers where the Diamondbacks were completely outplayed I began to wonder whether Arizona would be playing for second place and for experience for next year. But this three game set in Los Angeles has me a lot more confident that the team could be in the thick of a pennant race all summer long this season. Even though the Diamondbacks record was 1-2 on this road trip, the two losses were a result of 1 run each. If Brandon Lyon had not hung a breaking ball last night and if Doug Slaten had not allowed that run in the eighth, these games would have gone extra innings with the Diamondbacks coming out ahead.

1 Comment

  1. Austin

    Very good point. Im really excited about the diamondback’s potential this season!

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