Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

D-backs progressed, surprised everyone in '17

MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- There was not a whole lot the D-backs wanted to remember from 2016, but when it came to 2017, well, the memories could fill a book.

From walk-off wins to a return to the postseason for the first time since 2011, this past season was packed with memorable moments. It was tough to whittle this down, but here's a look at five of the things worth remembering about the 2017 season:

PHOENIX -- There was not a whole lot the D-backs wanted to remember from 2016, but when it came to 2017, well, the memories could fill a book.

From walk-off wins to a return to the postseason for the first time since 2011, this past season was packed with memorable moments. It was tough to whittle this down, but here's a look at five of the things worth remembering about the 2017 season:

1. Just dingers

When they acquired outfielder J.D. Martinez from the Tigers for three Minor Leaguers on July 18, the D-backs knew they were getting some added offensive production against left-handers. What they didn't realize was just how much production he would give them.

Video: Martinez named NL Player of the Month for September

Martinez wound up hitting 29 homers and driving in 65 RBIs in 62 games for the D-backs, averaging a home run every eight at-bats, which would have ranked third in baseball (if he had enough at-bats to qualify) since 1990 behind Barry Bonds in 2001 and Mark McGwire in 1998. His 45 homers overall were third in all of baseball.

The biggest Martinez Moment came Sept. 4 when he hit four homers against the Dodgers in Dodger Stadium, including shots in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

Video: ARI@LAD: Martinez erupts for four HRs, six RBIs

2. Gold standard

Though he struggled in September, Paul Goldschmidt put together another National League Most Valuable Player Award-type season, tying his career high with 36 home runs.

Video: ARI@LAD Gm2: Statcast™ measures Goldy's 430-ft. jack

Goldschmidt played for Team USA, which won the World Baseball Classic in March, and became the first D-backs player to be selected to five straight All-Star Games.

On Sept. 13 he collected his 1,000th career hit -- a double off Rockies right-hander German Marquez. He played his usual stellar defense as well, finishing second among first baseman with 10 defensive runs saved.

Video: COL@ARI: Goldy doubles to record his 1,000th hit

3. Bring in "The Beard"

Archie Bradley lost out in his bid to crack the starting rotation in March, but pitched well enough that the team decided to keep him as a reliever. Initially a long man, Bradley worked his way into higher-leverage situations and eventually became the team's eighth-inning setup man.

Video: LAD@ARI Gm3: Bradley escapes trouble with a strikeout

But Bradley was more than that. He became a folk hero in Arizona with his long beard, dominant pitching and his willingness to express his emotions. Whether it was a single and two-base error during a September game in San Diego, his proclamation that Chase Field was "our house," or his two-run game-changing triple in the Wild Card Game, his impact was felt everywhere.

Video: Must C Classic: Bradley laces historic two-run triple

4. Complete 180

The D-backs finished 69-93 in 2016, prompting ownership to dismiss GM Dave Stewart and manager Chip Hale.

Mike Hazen was hired away from the Red Sox to replace Stewart and he brought with him bench coach Torey Lovullo to take over for Hale.

When they took over the team, it would have been understandable if they wanted to tear it down and start from scratch. Instead, Hazen said he liked the core of players he inherited and chose to give them a chance to redeem themselves.

That decision paid huge dividends. Hazen would make moves at the margins to improve the team and he was rewarded on Sept. 24 when the D-backs clinched not just a Wild Card berth, but also home field advantage in it.

Video: Hazen on plans for assessing the team this offseason

5. Robbie rising

Before this year, Robbie Ray was a left-hander with an outstanding fastball who struggled with pitch efficiency and was unable to pitch deep into games.

With the addition of a curveball and the removal of a changeup from his arsenal, Ray turned into arguably the D-backs' best pitcher. He led the NL in strikeouts per nine innings (12.11) and he was second in opponents' batting average (.199).

Video: SF@ARI: Ray hurls five solid innings to earn 15th win

The turnaround seemed to take root on May 30 in Pittsburgh when he notched his first complete game as well as shutout, striking out 10 and not allowing a walk. After being struck in the head by a line drive on July 28, Ray would miss almost a month with a concussion, but after he returned he picked up right where he left off.

In fact, he one-upped himself by recording a career-high 14 strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Video: ARI@LAD: Ray fans 14 Dodgers in dominant start

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks