The Diamondbacks are coming out of the All Star Break with a record of 42-43, just 4 Games Behind the Dodgers and 3.5 Games Behind the Giants. Even though the team is still below .500, they are in much better shape than they were a few weeks ago - the D'Backs were 11.5 GB on May 22, and 7 GB just one week ago. The Diamondbacks rank 6th in the NL in Runs/Game, with 4.41 R/G, and rank 8th in Runs Allowed with 4.29 R/G. Let's take a look at what to expect in the 2nd Half.
LF Marc Krauss slipped on most prospect lists after a so-so campaign with Mobile in 2011 (.779 OPS). But in 2012, Krauss has really elevated his level of play, and he may be the best hitter in the Southern League right now. With a batting line of .297/.421/.534, Krauss' OPS of .955 is second in the league, just two points behind teammate Alfredo Marte. Krauss leads the league in Runs Scored (66) and Walks (59), is 2nd in OBP (.421) and Doubles (27), 3rd in RBI (55), 4th in SLG (.534), 5th in HR (13), and 10th in Batting Average (.297). He has also drastically improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2012, with 74 K/59 BB this year compared to 123 K/64 BB last year.
Krauss' offensive season puts him in some pretty select company. Over the last 10 years, only 18 Southern League players have achieved an OBP over .400 and a SLG over .500. The list includes 1B Paul Goldschmidt from last year, as well as current superstars Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, and Evan Longoria. Of course, many of these players were significantly younger than Krauss, who is now 24, but the .400/.500 combo is still quite rare (Minimum 300 PA).
|2011||Scott Van Slyke||24||CNG||LAD||529||81||20||92||.348||.427||.595||1.022|
Just missing from the list were Justin Upton (Age 19), who had an OBP of .399, and Matt Kemp (21), Giancarlo Stanton (20), and Jason Heyward (19), who were promoted from AA before reaching 300 plate appearances. Of the 18 players listed above, more than half became Major Leaguers.
If we restrict the list to Southern League seasons at the age of 24 or later, and expand the Player list to include those with fewer plate appearances and a .380/.500 line, we can add some players who might be similar to Krauss.
Combining this group of ten players with the nine older than 24 from the list above, we have a total of nineteen players who had an OBP > .380 and SLG > .500 at the age of 24 or older in the Southern League. Out of these, 6 out of 19 are solidly established Major Leaguers - Josh Willingham, Nelson Cruz, Matt Diaz, Gaby Sanchez, Chris Denorfia, and Chris Heisey. What these players have in common is that they all started in the Minors around the age of 20-21, like Krauss (all went to college except for NCruz). Others, such as Fox and Rosales, had some success in the Majors, while players like Guyer and Van Slyke are still trying to establish themselves. So if Krauss can maintain his .400 OBP/.500 SLG marks in the Southern League, the chances of achieving some success at the Major League level look pretty good, much better than for most 24 year olds in AA ball.
35 Players have played for the Diamondbacks so far in 2012. Here is how I rank them, from #1 to #35, based on their performance this season. In the last players rankings back in May, Chris Young was #1, but he has slipped all the way to #13. At the other end, Joe Paterson, with 11 ER allowed in just 2.2 IP, still holds onto to the last spot. The final two columns show each player's Wins Above Replacement (WAR) based on calculations from Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.
|1||4||Aaron Hill||.300/.355/.505 with excellent defense at 2B; should have made the NL All Star team||2.2||2.9|
|2||3||Jason Kubel||Leads AZ with 15 HR and 60 RBI, and is 3rd in NL in RBI; .900 OPS is #13 in NL; leads NL with 11 Assists||1.7||1.7|
|3||7||Wade Miley||Leads team with 3.04 ERA; Has cut walks down from 4.2 BB/9 in '11 to just 1.9, and HRA/9 from 1.4 to 0.8||2.1||2.0|
|4||21||Paul Goldschmidt||.920 OPS is #9 in the NL; Hitting .400/.462/.822 vs LHP, just .247/.315/.401 vs RHP||2.2||2.3|
|5||9||Miguel Montero||Leads team with .378 OBP; nailed 47% of basestealers||1.7||2.4|
|6||10||Trevor Cahill||3.64 ERA compared to FIP of 4.10; career FIP - ERA = 0.58||1.1||1.5|
|7||5||Ian Kennedy||4.26 ERA with 3.58 FIP; high BABIP (.326) and low LOB% (72%)||0.6||2.1|
|8||18||Gerardo Parra||.276/.345/.430 with 11/15 SB; still very good on defense||1.8||2.0|
|9||14||Justin Upton||.353 OBP and 54 Runs Scored are fine, but only has .401 SLG||1.2||1.2|
|10||2||Joe Saunders||69% Quality Start Rate (9/13) leads AZ; career FIP-ERA=0.49||0.8||1.2|
|11||11||David Hernandez||2.89 ERA; walks (4.1 BB/9) and SO (13.7 K/9) up this year||0.6||0.8|
|12||13||J.J. Putz||Has not given up a run in 12 of last 13, and 16 of 18 games||-0.1||0.2|
|13||1||Chris Young||Batting just .143/.235/.256 since return from injury||0.6||1.4|
|14||15||Brad Ziegler||2.45 ERA with 0 HR Allowed; leads NL with 71% GB rate||0.6||0.5|
|15||16||John McDonald||.796 OPS is best of his career; still solid on defense||0.4||0.6|
|16||12||Lyle Overbay||.317/.400/.500, but only 2 starts after June 15||0.4||0.4|
|17||17||Craig Breslow||2.92 ERA overall, but allowed 6 ER and 17H in 9.2 IP in June||0.5||0.2|
|18||6||Bryan Shaw||3.38 ERA; Has only allowed 4/25 Inherited Runners to score||0.4||0.2|
|19||25||Josh Collmenter||after rough start, has 1.40 ERA with 36K/9 BB in last 38.2 IP||0.3||0.5|
|20||19||Patrick Corbin||Has pitched well in relief; 1.69 ERA with 11K/4 BB in 10.2 IP||0.1||0.4|
|21||20||Willie Bloomquist||.393 SLG and .717 are career highs; only 6 of 14 in SB attempts||-0.5||0.6|
|22||8||Cody Ransom||.922 OPS with Arizona, but only .610 OPS with MIL||0.5||0.4|
|23||27||Ryan Roberts||.237/.285/.352; OPS down 130 pts from '11||0.0||0.2|
|24||-||Trevor Bauer||3 Starts - 1 good, 1 so-so, and 1 bad; 13K/8 BB in 13.1 IP||-0.1||0.2|
|25||26||Mike Zagurski||Holding LHB to a .562 OPS; 21K/10 BB in 22 IP||-0.1||-0.1|
|26||29||A.J. Pollock||.245/.288/.340; went 10 for 28 after a 3 for 25 start||0.0||0.0|
|27||-||Stephen Drew||Just .179/.226/.214 in 31 PA, but looks healthy||-0.2||-0.2|
|28||28||Henry Blanco||.167/.196/.204 in just 56 PA; caught 3 of 6 basestealers||-0.2||-0.2|
|29||23||Jonathan Albaladejo||2 ER in 2 IP; does have 14 Saves in AAA Reno||-0.1||0.0|
|30||22||Daniel Hudson||Allowed 9 HR in 45.1 IP (1.8 HR/9), after rate of 0.7 in '11||-0.9||0.3|
|31||30||Geoff Blum||Just 3 for 20 for the year, 1 for 8 as a PH||-0.1||-0.1|
|32||24||Joe Martinez||Gave up 2 Hits and 1 ER in only inning; back in AAA||0.0||0.0|
|33||-||Josh Bell||Just .173/.232/.269; back in AAA||-0.5||-0.5|
|34||-||Konrad Schmidt||0 for 4 with a Run and a RBI||-0.1||-0.1|
|35||31||Joe Paterson||37.13 ERA; 15 Hits and 11 ER in just 2.2 IP||-0.7||-0.3|
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The 2012 MLB All-Star rosters were announced on Sunday, and SP Wade Miley was the only Diamondback selected. Both 2B Aaron Hill and 1B Paul Goldschmidt were left off the rosters (Hill is part of the Final Vote), despite having better numbers than those selected ahead of them.
Aaron Hill - .301/.362/.516, 11 HR, 38 RBI
Jose Altuve - .309/.351/.453, 5 HR, 23 RBI
Paul Goldschmidt - .293/.369/.542, 11 HR, 35 RBI
Bryan LaHair - .284/.364/.526 - 13 HR, 28 RBI
Both Hill and Goldschmidt are also considered better defensively than Altuve and LaHair. However, the overlooking of Hill and Goldschmidt was not due to poor choices by Manager Tony LaRussa or the Commissioner's Office, but by the Players' Voting. The All-Star Roster Rules specify that the starters are chosen by the fans, and the reserves are chosen based on balloting by the players. If the Players' pick matches that of the Fans, then the Players' #2 pick makes the team.
In the NL, the players selected the following:
C Yadier Molina, 1B Bryan LaHair, 2B Jose Altuve, SS Starlin Castro, 3B David Wright, OF Ryan Braun, OF Carlos Gonzalez, OF Andrew McCutchen.
The picks of LaHair and Altuve suggest two possibilities:
1) The players voted too early, as those two were playing very well early in the year. If they had voted on June 1, those picks probably made sense, as Goldschmidt and especially Hill have hit very well over the last few weeks.
2) The players remember the hot starts of LaHair and Altuve, and didn't notice the recent surges by Hill and Goldschmidt. This seems unlikely, since Hill's two cycles have put him all over the news in the last two weeks.
It is worth noting that NL Manager LaRussa did add four position players after the Fans' and Players' selections - C Carlos Ruiz, SS Ian Desmond, OF Jay Bruce, and OF Giancarlo Stanton. A strong argument can certainly be made for Hill over both Desmond and Bruce - neither pick was forced on LaRussa by team representation requirements.
To prevent this type of error from happening again in the future, the solution seems simple - start the voting later, like perhaps one month before the game. Sadly, I don't MLB really cares to improve the selection process - starting later would almost certainly mean that much fewer ballots would be submitted, which would look bad from a PR perspective.
The rosters for the 2012 All Star Game will be announced on Sunday, July 1. As usual, the rosters will include fan voting for the starters as well as player voting and manager selections for the reserves. Here are the details for the 34 player roster composition:
Fan Voting (9 in AL, 8 in NL): Fans will vote for the starting lineup
Player Voting (16 Players): Players will vote for 1 player at each position, plus 8 pitchers (5 starters, 3 relievers)
Manager Selections: (8 in AL, 9 in NL): Each All Star Game Manager will complete the roster up to a total of 33, including at least one from each team
Last Spot (1): The fans will pick one final player from a set of five, based on choices from the Managers and the Commissioner's Office.
I think two Diamondbacks are in excellent position to make the All Star team, and a third D-Back is probably deserving. First, Aaron Hill is now batting .302/.363/.520 through Friday's games, with 11 HR and 38 RBI, and very good defense at second base. Yesterday, Hill became the first player to hit for the cycle twice in season in 80 years, and he did it twice within two weeks. Dan Uggla was leading the latest fan voting, but Hill should also make the team, perhaps along with Brandon Phillips.
Second, Wade Miley has a 2.09 ERA, which is lower than every starter in the NL other than the injured Brandon Beachy. There are many deserving NL Starting pitchers, but I think Miley will be named to the NL All Star team on Sunday. The third Diamondback should be 1B Paul Goldschmidt, who is now batting .299/.375/.532 with 11 HR and 35 RBI. His numbers are the second best in the NL after Joey Votto, who should easily win the fan vote. But the second spot is voted on by the players, and it's not clear if Goldschmidt's hot hitting over the last month will be enough to win a spot over players like Corey Hart, Freddie Freeman, or Adam LaRoche. But on merit, he deserves to be the #2 First Baseman.
Given the constraints of the selection process, here are my picks for the National League and American League Rosters (Starters are listed first, based on expected results from fan voting).
With Daniel Hudson leaving Tuesday's game with an elbow injury, the Diamondbacks have called up LHP Patrick Corbin to join the Major League rotation. Corbin tweeted on Wednesday morning that he was on a plane to Atlanta with Trevor Bauer to join the Major League club. With Joe Saunders also on the Disabled List, the Diamondbacks will go with Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Bauer, and Corbin until at least July 2nd, which is the earliest that Saunders can come back. Bauer will make his first start on Thursday against the Braves, and Corbin will probably take Hudson's place in the rotation. Corbin had made five starts with the Diamondbacks earlier in the year, going 2-3 with a 5.27 ERA. After returning to AAA Reno, Corbin had gone 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA, and an excellent 33K/12BB in 37.1 IP.
Edit: Gibson said that Collmenter would get the start on Sunday against the Brewers, and that Corbin would begin in long relief.
Stephen Drew is also expected to join the Diamondbacks in Atlanta on Wednesday, after completing a 20-day rehab assignment between AAA Reno and AA Mobile. Drew had a batting line of .244/.367/.463 during his rehab, including a double, triple, and two home runs. He drew 8 walks while only striking out 7 times, and handled 41 chances in the field without an error. He had played in three consecutive games twice while in AAA, but Manager Kirk Gibson has said that he may take it slow with Drew initially. Current shortstops Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald are expected to see more time at 3B when Drew returns, and 3B Josh Bell is expected to return to AAA.
The Diamondbacks are having an excellent month of June, going 14-7 for the month, and moving from 11.5 Games Behind the Dodgers on May 22 to within 5.5 Games on June 25. And things should get even more interesting this week, as the team is expected to add RHP Trevor Bauer and SS Stephen Drew over the next few days. Here is a quick recap of the roster shuffling happening at both the Major League and Minor League levels.