D-backs’ season a mix of equal parts good, bad

You win a few, you lose a few, and for the Diamondbacks, those wins and losses came in exact equal proportion for the second year in a row — 81 of each.

To avoid tedium, let’s categorize those 81 wins and losses in 2013 season on a larger scale.


Goldschmidt happened, and happened, and …

The D-backs signed Goldschmidt to a $32 million, five-year contract extension this spring on the come, identifying him as “an emerging young superstar,” in manager Kirk Gibson’s words.

Goldschmidt moved into the No. 3 spot in the order when Aaron Hill suffered a fractured two weeks into the regular season and looks to be a fixture for the length of contract, through 2019. He was the first player since Albert Pujols to lead the league in total bases, slugging percentage and OPS.

For the esoteric, Goldschmidt also led the NL in win probability added, a metric that not only considers basic statistics but also weighs performance in high-leverage situations to determine a player’s value. He had the most go-ahead homers, go-ahead RBIs, walk-off homers and homers after the eighth inning.
Corbin’s ascension

Patrick Corbin went from rotation candidate to rotation stabilizer, at times ace, in his first full major league season. Fastball command and a swing-and-miss slider brought Corbin to his first All-Star game, and opponents believed. Todd Helton called Corbin’s slider the best he had ever seen, and Helton did see Randy Johnson in his prime. “This Corbin dude is pretty nasty!” Chipper Jones told his 293,994 followers after Corbin’s 2-0 victory over Atlanta on May 14.

Call it grit, call it resilience …

Call it a melding of talent and attitude, but the D-backs never seemed swayed by a deficit, even if they wish they did not have to face so many. The 3-2 victory that got them to .500 on the final day of the season was a fitting end — they led the major leagues in one-run victories (34), victories in their last at-bat (33) and extra-inning victories (17) in a major-league high 25 extra-inning games.
The Upton deal was fine

Martin Prado had a career-high 82 RBIs while playing third base, second base and left field. He is not a home run hitter, but he hit .282 with 14 home runs after adjusting to unfamiliar turf. The trade sent Upton (.263, 27 homers, 70 RBIs) and Chris Johnson ( .321, 12, 68) to Atlanta, but the D-backs also got good value from starter Randall Delgado, and minor leaguers Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury showed well. The depth could help facilitate offseason deals.  

Ziegler does his thing

Brad Ziegler quietly did his job as a middle reliever for almost two seasons after joining the D-backs for the final two months of their 2011 NL West title run. When the D-backs turned to him to close at the All-Star break, he quietly did that job, too. Ziegler throws strikes and keeps the ball down, the main requisites for a closer, no matter what his repertoire. The D-backs will have options next spring.


Starters can’t finish

The D-backs expected 200 innings from No. 1-2 starters Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill but got a total of 270 2/3 because of an injury to Cahill and the ineffectiveness that led to Kennedy’s trade to San Diego. Brandon McCarthy lost two months to the shoulder inflammation that has plagued him every season, and even Corbin’s emergence and Wade Miley’s consistency could not compensate.

Bullpen could not finish

The D-backs had a major league-high 29 failed saved conversions — 10 by May 1, which led to immediate instability. They had four more blown saves during an 8-16 stretch starting in early June in which they did not get victory a from a starting pitcher despite 11 quality starts. D-backs relievers gave up a league-high 59 homers, 12 by Heath Bell and 10 by David Hernandez. J.J. Putz was up-and-down early, and the D-backs had trouble finding a fix at closer during his injury-induced absence.


The D-backs missed 100 weeks from players who were projected members of the 25-man roster, and it had a big effect. They wanted to see Adam Eaton in the leadoff role; he was out until July. They expected Aaron Hill and Cody Ross to fill the power void with the trade of Justin Upton, but both missed more than two months. Hill had a freak fracture when hit by a pitch in the left hand. Ross had an even freakier fractured hip. He hopes to be ready in spring training, but there are little comps for his injury. Then there was down town for McCarthy, Cahill, Putz …

Down years

Miguel Montero had his least productive season, although a back injury factored in. McCarthy admitted it may have been harder to put aside the concussion and fractured skull he suffered on Sept. 5, 2012, and did not turn things around until his return from the disabled list in mid-August. Setup man Hernandez was not himself until he returned from a short trip to the minors in September.


Unlike 2011, the D-backs never had an extended run, never separating themselves from the pack. They led the division and had a 9 ½ game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 22, but they (and the rest of the NL West) let the Dodgers back into the division with a slow stretch. The D-backs went 6-11 in the next 17 games, when they failed to hold three late-inning leads and scored two runs or fewer in seven games. The last blown save came in the final game of the Dodgers’ three-game sweep, and the D-backs spent only 12 more days in first place. Their longest winning streak was five games.