How the D-backs became one of baseball's most fun teams
How the D-backs became one of the most fun MLB teams
The D-backs shocked the baseball world on Friday night when they inked Zack Greinke to a six year, $206.5 million deal. While they had been rumored to be in on Johnny Cueto, it was expected that the Dodgers would bid for Greinke or that the Giants may swoop and steal from their southern California rivals.
Instead, it was the D-backs, new uniforms in tow, who signed the pitcher and everyone perked up, realizing that maybe this D-backs team was in a better position to contend than they realized. With Greinke leading the rotation and full-season return from Patrick Corbin (3.60 ERA in 16 starts last season), joining America's First Baseman in Paul Goldschmidt and post-breakout A.J. Pollock, the team is in a good position to cause some problems for the three-straight-NL-West-winning Dodgers.
But more than that, the sedona red, black, and teal team may not only have snuck into contention, but just those who enjoy fun baseball.
Here are the simple reasons why the D-backs may just be your new favorite team.
Obviously the signing of the quote-machine with long hair, a killer changeup and the ability to hit home runs is a great start. Because what could be better than watching a pitcher throw a 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R game while also bashing the ball? It's both the cookie and the filling of an Oreo.
The rest of the rotation is loaded with interesting pieces, as well.
Corbin is a young pitcher set to make his full-season return from Tommy John surgery, coming armed (get it?) with a nasty slider.
Josh Collmenter may not exactly look like the world's greatest athlete and his pitching motion has more in common with someone in a track and field event, but he also had the fourth-slowest fastball in the Majors. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but the bearded D-back has never finished with a below average ERA. There is beauty in being unique.
Add that to top prospect Archie Bradley, who impressed in flashes during an eight-start debut in 2015, including knocking off Clayton Kershaw in his big league debut, and you've got the makings of a rotation you want to watch every day.
Sure, flame-throwing closers whose fastballs travel at the speed of light are fun, but every team seemingly has one. They're the equivalent of Tamagotchis in elementary school -- sure, they're fun, but they can get boring.
Enter: Brad Ziegler. With a sidearm motion resembling an octopus moving across the ocean floor and a sinker that tops out in the low-80s, Ziegler posted a 1.85 ERA to go with 30 saves last year. That's like if your Tamogatchi gained sentience and saved 30 games.
America's First Baseman
When not interning in the fast-paced world of finance (all I know about it is "Boiler Room"), Paul Goldschmidt spends his time bashing baseballs. While Goldschmidt was 16th in the Majors in home runs last season, his swing is simply made for all-around success as he was fourth in average, fourth in on-base percentage and fourth in slugging. Since 2013, Goldschmidt has the third-highest OPS in baseball, right behind Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera.
Honestly, the only thing he needs to improve on is really living up to his nickname. I say, cut the sleeves off like Ted Kluszewski, start wearing an American flag bandana everywhere and refer to himself in the third person as "American Hero, Paul Goldschmidt."
Of course, while Goldschmidt hit plenty of homers, an unexpected breakout from A.J. Pollock saw the center fielder more than double his career-high in homers with 20. Pollock also set highs in average, on-base percentage and doubles while matching his slugging percentage and triples total from 2014.
Of course, one of the D-backs' calling cards is their defense. Both Pollock and Goldschmidt are sublime defenders, each collecting Gold Glove Awards for their efforts. Goldschmidt is one of the best at going to his right, while Pollock flies through the outfield snaring baseballs.
But there's also Nick Ahmed who, were it not for being in a league with human highlight reel Andrelton Simmons and the '80s-haired 2015 Gold Glove Award winner, Brandon Crawford, the former-second round pick would have people salivating over his defense. Ahmed was valued at +20 Defensive Runs Saved in 2015, all while making the sublime look casual on a daily basis.
In fact, according to DRS, Arizona was valued at +71 -- making them an even better defensive team than the World Series champion Royals. If you like people flashing the leather, this team is for you.
If you want a good underdog story, look no further than Arizona. For there you'll find David Peralta. Originally signed as a pitcher with the Cardinals, Peralta played two seasons for St. Louis' rookie-level team, posting an ERA above five each year. He then switched to a position player in the independent leagues, bouncing all over the unaffiliated Minors before the D-backs noticed him bashing the ball for Amarillo in the American Association and signed him.
Since making his Major League debut in 2014, all Peralta has done is hit .301/.351/.492 with 25 home runs and 19 triples while playing every outfield position. That's about as likely a story as "Air Bud Spikes Back" -- you know, the one where Air Bud becomes a volleyball player.
Finally, if you're a fan simply for the fun names, the D-backs have you covered there, too. Perhaps you're a fan of what sounds like a bad barbecue sandwich in catcher Tuffy Gosewich. Or maybe you're a devotee of the classics, spending your days reading Plato and Aristotle. Then Socrates Brito is your man. Zack Godley is fun if you like comparing players to the heavens. And who among us doesn't find joy in saying Rubby de la Rosa?