Diamondbacks Game Preview #81: 7/5 vs. Giants
The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster changes:
- Recalled LHP Tyler Gilbert (#49) from Triple-A Reno.
- Claimed INF Sergio Alcántara of the Padres
- Designated RHP JB Wendelken for assignment.
O HAI, Sergio. Welcome to the Diamondbacks organization. He played 23 games for the team at the start of the year, despite barely hitting his weight, batting .189. He was DFA, picked up by San Diego, where he failed to reach my mom’s weight (and she passed away in February), averaging .114 and no extra hits, over 22 games and 38 PA. I guess it’s going to be the depth of the list for now. Or maybe it was just to stop the Giants, who are currently looking for infielders in the back of the couch, in their pant cuffs and on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Gilbert, of course, is back to start tonight’s game. We’ll see if it works well.
The collapse of the receiver’s offense
It started with me watching yesterday’s starting receiver, Jose Herrera, who entered the game with .450 OPS. I started looking to see how this ranked among all positional D-backs, only to find that he wasn’t the lowest on the current roster, or even the worst. recipient. For Carson Kelly’s OPS this year was 0.403. Both men improved their numbers slightly yesterday, but then I wondered how poorly Arizona’s collective receiver numbers ranked. That’s below the Uecker line at .199/.257/.288m at .545 OPS, mostly thanks to Daulton Varsho’s efforts. It’s the worst in team history, forty-five points below the previous low of 2018, with the three-headed sucker beast of Alex Avila, Jeff Mathis and John Ryan Murphy.
So I started looking up where that number for catchers ranked in major league history, only to find that it wasn’t even the worst in baseball this season. Indeed, no less than FIVE teams are entering the game today with a Lower OPS of their catchers than Arizona. What’s particularly interesting is that all five have winning records, and most would be in the playoffs if they started today. In descending order, they are: the Rays (.531 OPS according to their receivers), the Cardinals (.499), the Mets (.493), the Guardians (.493) and the Astros (.487). Among the six lowest catcher OPS team in the divisional era, or since 1969, four are this season. Collectively, AL receivers also have their worst OPS since that point; NL is at its lowest in 30 years.
Part of that is just that the offense is generally down. Despite the arrival of the DH in the National League, MLB OPS is at 21 points lower than in 2021. It’s the second-lowest number since 1992, just ahead of 2014’s .700. Baseball’s batting average of .242 is similarly the lowest for majors in the divisional era (or, if you prefer, since the mound was lowered after the 1968 season). But that appears to have affected receivers more: MLB OPS is down more than double the overall figure, dropping 43 points from .697 to .654. The last time the figure was lower than this was in 1976 (0.648). Here is a chart showing how receiver OPS and overall OPS compare since 2000.
Obviously, the receivers reflect the general trends. Yet you have to go back more than twenty years to find such a large gap, with the difference of 53 points equaling the 2001 figure – arguably the peak of the steroid era. I don’t have a particular reason for it, but I found it an interesting rabbit hole to go down, just after seeing Jose Herrera’s batting line.
Finally, and unrelated, here is Joe Mantiply speaking before yesterday’s game to Jack Sommers. So far, he’s probably been the unsung hero of the 2022 Diamondbacks and arguably been the best left-handed reliever in baseball. While he acknowledges making it to the All-Star Game would be great, he’s just focused on the day-to-day business of getting people out. He thinks it’s a combination of factors that got him to this point, especially just being in a place where he would have opportunities. Check out the full audio above.