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A part of any fan’s confidence in the team is based on how well the team can get outs. Diamondbacks fans are completely split on what they think of the team’s defense.
I think the absence of Nick Ahmed in the early part of the season may well have been a factor in that. So far, the D-backs have committed nine errors in total, which trails only the San Diego Padres 12 – almost half of those thanks to the Greatest Player in Baseball (TM). If those nine, two were actually charged to Ahmed, though one of those was certainly not his fault – that was the play at home where the runner’s helmet clanged off Stephen Vogt, causing him to miss the ball. Someone had to get an error, and Ahmed was the poor bastard in question. But Escobar has already had two, as well as eight in 47 games last year, which is underwhelming.
Over the past few years, it feels like defense has generally been a strength of the D-backs. Few of the defensive metrics can be trusted at this very early stage in the season, but it will be interesting to see how things shake down in 2021. More generally, defenses around the league are dealing with a couple of changes this season. One that theoretically should help while the other makes things more difficult. After a few years of rising home run totals, the league reportedly made a change to deaden the baseballs used in games. However, if this has happened, fans haven’t yet noticed.
One undeniable change is a carry-over from last season when MLB decided to start each extra-inning with a runner on second base. The rule was implemented to increase scoring in extra innings and ideally prevent them from going into multiple extra innings. While there is no doubt fans have taken notice of this change, it doesn’t mean they like what they see.
I’ve actually been more impressed with it this year than I was last. Hard to argue the dramatic nature of the game in Colorado, where even with the extra man, it still ended up going 13 innings. Every pitch seemed to “matter” more, when there’s almost guaranteed to be a runner in scoring position for it. At a time when the game appears to be progressing towards less entertainment i.e. with fewer balls in play, I can’t argue against the rule as making the game duller, certainly!
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