2019 Arizona Diamondbacks
2019 Arizona Diamondbacks / Franchise: Arizona Diamondbacks / BR Team Page
Managed by Torey Lovullo
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2019 Arizona Diamondbacks came into the season hoping to return to the postseason after a late-season slump in 2018 had ruined what had started off as a solid year. The major change made by the team was trading long-time 1B Paul Goldschmidt, the team's most consistent hitter over the past few seasons but about to enter his final year before free agency, to the St. Louis Cardinals in return for a trio of young players, including C Carson Kelly, who would rapidly claim the starting job at a position which had given the team trouble the previous year. Also departing were CF A.J. Pollock and SP Patrick Corbin, via free agency, while the major additions were OF Adam Jones, a spring training signing that turned out to be highly inspired when Steven Souza suffered a season-ending knee injury just before Opening Day; closer Greg Holland; and SP Merrill Kelly, a veteran who had never made it to the Show in his first run through the U.S. minor leagues but had found success in the Korea Baseball Organization.
The Diamondbacks got off to a good start, going 16-10 in April after losing three of the four games they had played in March. This put them into second place, as the Los Angeles Dodgers were off to the races in the NL West: the realistic goal would be to hang on to a wild card slot, a challenge in itself given at least two other teams in the division also had their eyes on that prize, the Colorado Rockies and the upstart San Diego Padres, not to mention those in the other two divisions. After their good start, however, May was a tough month as Arizona was just 11-17 and fell two games below .500, 11 games out of first in 4th place. With the season in danger of slipping away from them, the D-Backs turned things around in early June, winning 7 of their first 9 contests to right the ship and return to second place on June 9th following a three-game road sweep of the struggling Toronto Blue Jays. On June 10th, they had a record-setting day at Citizens Bank Park facing the Philadelphia Phillies. They opened the game with three consecutive homers off Jerad Eickhoff, by Jarrod Dyson, Ketel Marte and David Peralta; they had been the last team to open a game with three homers, doing so at home on July 21, 2017 against Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals. But they weren't done: they added five more long balls before the night was over, shattering the previous team record of 6 in one game. Eduardo Escobar hit homers from each side of the plate in consecutive innings, and Ildemaro Vargas also hit a pair. Meanwhile, the Phils were also mashing, banging out five long balls, including a pair by Scott Kingery, to set a new major league record with 13 homers in a game. Still, Arizona came out on top, 13-8. Also in June, the Diamondbacks had a bonanza in the 2019 amateur draft, as they had 8 picks among the first 93, including two picks in the first round proper and two compensation picks for the losses of Pollock and Corbin. Of course, the net result of that haul would not be known for a few years, but it was a key opportunity to re-stock a farm system that had been mediocre in recent years.
On July 17th, the Diamondbacks tied a franchise record with 21 hits in a 9-inning game when they defeated the Texas Rangers, 19-4, in an interleague game. Escobar homered twice and drove in 5 runs to lead the offensive outburst. It was actually the second time that season that they had reached the mark, having done so also on May 24th in an 18-2 win over the San Francisco Giants.
In July and August, they were average to a record degree, staying within two games of .500 (plus or minus) for over two full months. On June 18th, a loss brought their record to 38-36, then they did not budge for the next 60 games. That beat the previous streak of 56 games by the 2007 Oakland Athletics. On August 30th, they defeated the Dodgers, 5-4, to improve to 69-66. Manager Torey Lovullo had a colorful description of what that stretch of games felt like: "I've talked about it being like a dune buggy on a sandy road in the Sahara Desert. Even though I've never been to the Sahara Desert, I can imagine there are some sand dunes there. You're just bouncing up and down and trying to do the best thing to eliminate that noise and that rattle." This attraction to the .500 mark was particularly puzzling given that the team had a +68 run differential when it ended, meaning it was playing better than its wins and losses reflected and should have had a much more positive record. They traded ace pitcher Zack Greinke during the streak, taking advantage of the fact that the Houston Astros were willing to take on responsibility for the remainder of his huge contract, but still managed to remain on the fringes of the wild card race with one month left to play, especially with 17 of their remaining 27 games at home.
Awards and Honors
- David Brandt (Associated Press): "Average Arizona: Diamondbacks set record for being OK", USA Today, August 30, 2019. 
- Bob Nightengale: "MLB draft remains a crapshoot, even for teams loaded with picks: 'This isn't the NBA or NFL'", USA Today, June 2, 2019.