Arizona Diamondbacks’ offense keeping them in playoff race

Given the expectations heading into the season, one could already declare the 2015 season for the Arizona Diamondbacks to be a massive success. A club that was expected to fight for a spot in the National League West cellar has far exceeded the expectations of the baseball world, to the point where they currently find themselves in the mix for a playoff spot, even as the calendar prepares to turn over to September.

As things stand right now, the Diamondbacks are fifth in the league in position player WAR, at 19.9 on the season, a figure which ranks third overall in the National League. They lead the National League in runs, at 584 for the season heading into the week, and third in the league overall. Even with a below average pitching staff, they’ve managed to carve out a +40 run differential thus far in 2015.

Obviously, when MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt is cemented in the middle of your lineup, the offensive picture becomes a very pretty one to look at. Goldschmidt’s gone for a 6.0 WAR, which ranks fourth in Major League Baseball. His wRC+, at 167, trails only Bryce Harper and Joey Votto in the National League. He’s reached base at an absurd .445 clip, while adding 20 swipes to the effort. The number of players more dangerous, offensively, than Paul Goldschmidt could be counted with less than one hand.

And yet, this team is much more than just Paul Goldschmidt at the plate. He’s the centerpiece, yes, but while he was expected to be one of maybe two or three consistent producers, he’s been the leader of perhaps the National League’s most potent offensive attack.

A.J. Pollock has pieced together an incredible year, validated by his All-Star appearance in Cincinnati last month. He’s not too far behind Goldschmidt in the WAR department, at 5.7. He’s added a wRC+ of 136, a .376 on-base percentage, and 33 steals to the effort. He doesn’t walk a ton, at a 7.8 BB%, but his 150 hits rank second in the league behind only Dee Gordon.

It’s not so much the performance of Paul Goldschmidt, or even of A.J. Pollock, that has so many buzzing about the performance of this Diamondback offense. It’s what their secondary players beyond the two catalysts have managed to produce throughout the year.

We’ve touched on David Peralta in the past, here on the site. He continues to be a regular offensive threat for the Diamondbacks, ranking third on the team in WAR, at 2.6. Given that he’s playing below average defense, his 133 wRC+ and .220 ISO can certainly be thanked for that number.

Jake Lamb doesn’t have a full season under his belt, and actually comes in as a slightly below average bat, with a wRC+ at 98. His splits look much more favorable against right-handed pitching, though, where he’s hitting .277 and a .150 ISO. A dead pull hitter at this point, Lamb still has some adjusting to do, but there’s some legitimate pop there.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the bunch has been Welington Castillo. An odd man out in Chicago as a third catcher earlier this season, Castillo was eventually sent to Seattle, and subsequently to the Diamondbacks as part of the Mark Trumbo trade. Always a catcher with some pop from behind the plate, Castillo has done nothing but mash in his time with the Diamondbacks. In seizing the starting gig behind the dish, he’s reached base at a .351 clip and has an absurd .299 ISO. There’s a high volume of strikeouts there, at almost 29%, but he’s compensating hitting the ball unbelievably hard (42.3 Hard%), while maintaining a decent approach, at 3.88 pitches per plate appearance.

Don’t overlook Yasmany Tomas, either. He’s been brutal in the field, but has managed to maintain a .376 BABIP thanks to his propensity for hitting the ball hard (31.8 Hard%). Obviously the Diamondbacks would like to see less punchouts and more extra base knocks from him, but that could come with extended big league experience.

If there’s a mark that this team is leaving, or some sort of trend that they’ve demonstrated, it’s that they hit the absolute tar out of the ball at every opportunity. As a team, they’re hitting the ball hard 31.4% of the time, which is tied for the highest percentage in Major League Baseball. Even with their high strikeout numbers, and relatively low walk rates, they can survive thanks to that. Their pitching has been subpar this season, but if the Diamondbacks continue to remain in the race for the National League West crown for the month of September, they’ll have their offense to thank for it.

**Statistics via FanGraphs

Randy Holt is the managing editor for Statliners. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.