There is one word to describe the Arizona Diamondbacks 2016 season: DISAPPOINTING. The Diamondbacks came into this season with high expectations from all around the league. They made a huge splash in the off-season. They paid an enormous price for a number of their trades that had people around the league scratching their heads, however, almost everyone in the league expected them to be better than 69-93 record and a 4th place finish in the NL West.
Arizona Diamondbacks 2016 Season Review
The biggest move they made last off-season was signing Zack Greinke to a 6-year, $206.5 million deal. A lot of people thought that they overpaid him for his services, but he was without a doubt the ace this staff needed. That move did not pan out this year. Greinke finished the year with potentially the worst season of his career. He finished with his highest ERA since 2005 and least amount of wins since 2010. In addition, he finished with the least games started, innings pitched, and strikeouts since 2007. All in all, it was a disappointing season for Greinke.
On December 11th of last year the Diamondbacks made a trade that will be talked about for years to come. They agreed to a deal with the Atlanta Braves to receive Shelby Miller. By just looking at who they received, most would think this was a respectable deal. Shelby Miller is a solid piece in almost anyone’s starting rotation. The thing that left everyone confused was what they gave up for him. They gave up a Gold Glove candidate in Ender Inciarte, a future piece in a starting rotation in Aaron Blair, and a possible future All-Star and 2015 first overall draft pick Dansby Swanson. Why anyone would give up a package like that for someone who would be a number two or three starter in a rotation is baffling. An executive said to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, “Worst trade I’ve ever seen”.
The Diamondbacks made another splash in the trade market in the off-season when they acquired Jean Segura from the Milwaukee Brewers. This trade was a little less perplexing, but nonetheless was still a head-scratcher. Once again they acquired a solid piece in Segura, but they paid a good price in doing so. They gave up utility man Aaron Hill, pitcher Chase Anderson, and a top-100 prospect in Isan Diaz. The Diamondbacks also sent $6.5 million to the Brewers in this trade. Segura is a middle of the pack middle infielder and it seems like they gave up a lot for him. They could have waited for Diaz to develop and possibly turn into an All-Star, however, instead they chose otherwise.
Two other poor moves that were over powered by these three big moves were the signing of Tyler Clippard and the trading away of Jeremy Hellickson. The Diamondbacks signed Clippard to a two year deal worth $12.25 million. Clippard did not even make it through one full season with the club. He posted a 4.30 ERA in 37 2/3 innings before being traded to the New York Yankees at the trade deadline. The trading away of Hellickson came back to bite the Diamondbacks. They traded away a pitcher who basically fit the profile of Miller. Hellickson also had his best season in four years. He posted a 3.71 ERA in 189 innings and managed 12 wins on a terrible Phillies team. Hellickson’s 3.71 ERA would have been the top ERA in the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation.
One highlight from the Diamondbacks season was the numbers that the offense was able to produce. The pitching did not get the job done what so ever, but the offense was able to muster enough runs to get some wins for this club. Not many teams can brag that they have a franchise player like Paul Goldschmidt. In terms of his career this was one of his down years. Although, most players would happily take 24 homers, 95 RBIs, 33 doubles, and a .297 batting average in their down years. A guy who can hit like that and is a Gold Glove candidate every year is rare to come by. The Diamondbacks are lucky to have him signed through the 2018 season, along with a team option in 2019.
Many people thought the injuries to A.J. Pollock and David Peralta would ruin this offense, nevertheless, they were mistaken. Pollock and Peralta were an enormous loss for they are two of the teams’ top hitters and their best outfielders. When you have guys like Yasmany Tomas and Brandon Drury to fill in it helps a lot. Michael Bourn also played a serviceable center field in the absence of Pollock. Having so many outfielders is a problem most teams would love to have.
To go along with all those outfielders and Goldschmidt they had Jean Segura, Chris Owings, Welington Castillo, and Jake Lamb to round out the offense. When you can consistently put out a lineup including all of these players you would come to believe that they could win more than a measly 69 games. Of all those players, Lamb was the most shocking this year by far. In his third year in the league he posted 29 homers to go with 91 RBIs and 31 doubles. His average dipped off a bit in the second half after a hot start, but those power numbers are a nice complement in any lineup. In total this offense was top ten in the league in doubles (10th), runs (10th), batting average (8th), slugging (7th), hits (3rd), and triples (1st). This was done all without Pollock and Peralta for more than half the season. Management must be pretty excited about this lineup and the guys they will have returning for next season.
There were many disappointments when it came to this pitching staff. I already mentioned how terrible of a season Greinke had. He basically had the worst season of his career since 2005 with the Kansas City Royals. That “prized” possession Miller also had a dreadful year. Miller was so bad to start off the year that the Diamondbacks had to demote him to the minors. Miller set career lows in almost every category including games, ERA, wins, innings, and strikeouts.
Not one Arizona starting pitcher finished with an ERA under 4.00 this year. These pitchers (who started at least ten games) include Robbie Ray, Archie Bradley, Greinke, Miller, Patrick Corbin, Braden Shipley, and Rubby De La Rosa. When a team throws out seven different pitchers they expect at least one of them to shine. That wasn’t the case this year for the Diamondbacks. The bullpen was nothing to brag about either. Arizona did not have any reliever save 20 games for them this year. The closest was Brad Ziegler with 18, but they traded him during the year. The bullpen in total blew 22 saves throughout the year.
Arizona finished dead last in the league in team ERA with a 5.09. They had the third least amount of quality starts, the second highest batting average against, and they let up the second most amount of walks. The only highlight for this team as a pitching staff was the amount of strikeouts Robbie Ray was able to produce. Throughout the league only 12 pitchers were able to amass 200 or more strikeouts during the year. Ray was one of those. He finished with 218 strikeouts over 174.1 innings pitched. That’s an impressive number for anyone and it shows signs of how dominant he can be. If Greinke and Miller have bounce back seasons next year, and Ray increases his quality starts, and the Diamondbacks can add some quality arms, they will have a solid rotation when opening day comes around.