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When will the D-backs hitters improve and by how much?

The fact that the Diamondbacks are in a deep offensive slump has been well documented by virtually everyone who follows the team. In their last six games, they have scored just nine runs. In their last 14 games, they have averaged just 2.8 R/G while having a batting average of .223 and an OPS of .597.

It can be difficult to keep track when a team is struggling with hitting. Obviously, the D-backs have hit much better in the past. Through May 13, they averaged 5.0 runs per game with a .248 batting average and a .721 OPS. They may not be as good, but they will hit better than they have over the past two weeks. The question is when and by how much?

That point in time is, of course, impossible to predict. The best we can do is look at individual players and see how they compare to their “expected” stats and what their projections are for the future. Below are ratings of each hitter.

The expected statistics in the table below are from Baseball Savant. They publish XB.A., XSnail and XwOBA or weighted on-base percentage. XwOBA is a general metric for measuring overall offensive performance. It is based on the on-base percentage scale.

Expected metrics are based on batted balls and quality of contact data, as well as actual walks and strikeouts. Tables and further explanations can be found here. The league average for wOBA is .309. In 2023, the league average was .318. Points and offense are down across the board this year.

Also note that league-wide the .317 XwWOBA is 8 points higher than actual in 2024. I made the adjustment to align the numbers in the presentation below. The table below is sorted by the projections for the rest of the season, which can also be found on Fangraphs.

D-backs wOBA, xwWOBA and predictions for the rest of the season

D-backs wOBA, xwWOBA and predictions for the rest of the season / Jack Sommers

Joc Pederson, Christian Walker and Ketel Marte were the best hitters on the team this year according to wOBA. These three players are expected to be the three best hitters in the future and form the top league.

In Pederson's case, his xwOBA is significantly lower than his actual wOBA, suggesting that he may be in for some regression to the mean. Conversely, Walker and Marte may have had some bad luck so far this year, as their xwWOBA are 0.13 and 0.21 higher, respectively.

Corbin Carroll is projected to have a wOBA of .336 the rest of the way. The projections don't seem to have caught up with the reality of his sophomore slump. Although his xwOBA is significantly higher than his wOBA, suggesting bad luck, the xwWOBA of .292 is still well below the league average of .309.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Gabriel Moreno Both are projected to improve significantly in the future, but their well-below-average wOBA and xwOBA are almost perfectly aligned, meaning they have produced the results they deserve.

Jake McCarthy's .332 wOBA is 4th best on the team and earns that with an equally high xwWOBA. His projected wOBA of .319 the rest of the way is a small step below that level, but still above league average.

Eugenio Suarez is in trouble. His wOBA of .263 is exactly his expected wOBA. There is no bad luck involved in his case. Just too many strikeouts and too much bad contact. The projection still gives a league average of .309. League average is the best anyone can expect from Suarez going forward.

Randal Grichuk has hit for a decent average but hasn't delivered the power he was hoping for. His projected wOBA is essentially the same as his actual wOBA.

Blaze Alexander has the fifth-best wOBA on the team, but no hitter has a larger gap between xwOBA and wOBA. He and Kevin Newman are both projected to be below average with a wOBA of .293.

The sample sizes for Alek Thomas and Geraldo Perdomo are undersized, but both are expected to return from the injured list in the next few weeks and are therefore listed in the table with their projections.

Pavin Smith and Tucker Barnhart both have relatively small samples to work with. Smith is expected to be on par with McCarthy and Perdomo, but his results and even xwOBA are still well below average so far. Barnhart is a backup catcher and won't be relied upon for his offense.

Summary

The D-backs will certainly pitch better at some point than they have in recent weeks. How much better and whether they can at least meet their projections for the future remains to be seen. Carroll and Gurriel Jr. are perhaps the best candidates for significant improvement, according to the projections.

Anna Harden

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