On paper, the Arizona Diamondbacks look like a below-average Major League Baseball team.
Three of their starting eight are role players and would be backups at best on most other teams. And of those starters only one, maybe two could make the 2001 World Series champion Diamondbacks. And this year’s two ace pitchers would be overshadowed by the aces of a decade ago, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.
All this and yet there is growing hope out here in the arid lands that the low-budget Dbacks will make the playoffs for the first time in several years. What’s more they have the record to prove it. After edging the Los Angeles Dodgers two games to one at home this weekend with more voodoo baseball, they have won seven more games and they’ve lost and rest only 3 1/2 games in the NL West behind the San Francisco Giants with 67 games left in the regular season. All of this due to a magical 18-4 run in May and June. Back out that improbable string and the Dbacks are 33-40, not far off track from 2010’s last-place dud.
While it is blasphemy to say this within the tender ears of a Dbacks fan, it is true that the Dodgers with a losing record are an even match for the locals. And it could be argued successfully that the Dodgers outplayed the Dbacks this weekend yet lost the series. So it has been most of the season for Arizona, a team that continues to defy the law of averages.
Take this weekend. The Dbacks won the last two games with players in their normal lineup having horrible outings. For one, they made only eight hits in 50 at bats. That’s a success rate of .160 — about 90 points below their average on the season — and a figure that usually spells defeat.
Not only that. But the supposedly best players in their lineup, the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 batters, were 2 for 30, struck out 15 times and did not drive in a single run.
Perhaps the most amazing stat of all is that six of the seven runs were produced by the most recent call-up from the minor leagues, Brandon Allen, on Saturday with one swing of the bat, and, of all people, the pitcher Daniel Hudson today. This is a far cry from the usual recipe of winning baseball.
Allen provided all the runs in a 3-2 victory with his first home run of the season. And Hudson hit his first career homer and drove in two more runs with a single in a 4-1 game.
While these games provide much entertainment and keep local fans agog, the results are often beyond comprehension.