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This Major League Baseball season is bringing attention to teams and cities not used to the fanfare.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are among them.
In the National League West, the Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants are clearly putting some pressure on the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, frequent division contenders.
Blending experienced veterans with young, energetic players has been a winning formula for both the Diamondbacks and the Giants.
The season is a marathon, not a sprint. However, both the Diamondbacks and Giants have been playing exciting, competitive baseball in the tough NL West.
Aggressive and extremely fun to watch, the Diamondbacks have strung together several winning streaks, and are never really out of a baseball game.
With likely All Star Zac Gallen leading the starting rotation, the Diamondbacks have held their own on the mound, even in the high altitude of Chase Field in Phoenix.
Gallen, 27, is normally joined in the rotation by Merrill Kelly, Tommy Henry, Zack Davies, and Ryne Nelson. Henry is the only lefty.
Righty Miguel Castro and lefty Andrew Chafin form a nice combination of closers for manager Torey Lovullo. While bullpen issues still remain, the pen has shown major improvement.
Diamondbacks pitchers have a collective 4.26 ERA, which is 16th in MLB. The opposition is hitting .246 against their pitching. That ranks 14th in baseball.
The offense holds the key to the new Diamondbacks success. The offense is versatile and dangerous.
The Diamondbacks 290 runs scored places them at No. 5 in MLB. They have hit 65 homers, the 14th best in baseball. Their team batting average is a hefty .261, which has them at No. 6 in the game.
Led by emerging star outfielder Corbin Carroll, outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., second baseman Ketel Marte, first baseman Christian Walker, middle-infielder Geraldo Perdomo, and young catcher Gabriel Moreno, the Diamondbacks have produced runs with a blend of veterans, and young, hungry, opportunistic players.
The team’s power/speed combination puts pressure on the defense.
Carroll is only 22-years-old.
Moreno is 23.
Perdomo is 23.
For this scout, Carroll, and Gurriel Jr. have been a marvel to watch. Both have flashed power and speed combinations that ignite the club.
Moreno and Perdomo, while young, are absorbing everything they can from their teammates. They are enthusiastic, dynamic players.
Pavin Smith, Josh Rojas, and Jake McCarthy, each credible and productive, usually round out the starting lineup.
Bench players include catcher Jose Herrera, third baseman Evan Longoria, corner infielder Emmanuel Rivera, and shortstop Nick Ahmed.
At the start of play June 3, the Diamondbacks have a record of 35-23, which puts them in a tie for first place with the Dodgers in the NL West.
The team’s payroll is estimated by Fangraphs to be $121 million, an increase of $28 million from last year.
The Diamondbacks may not win the National League West, but they may find their way into the postseason with a very entertaining team.
San Francisco Giants:
At the start of play June 3, the San Francisco Giants have a record of 28-29, 6.5 games behind Arizona and Los Angeles in the division.
Few analysts believed the Giants would be competitive in the National League West.
The Giants weren’t expected to challenge the Dodgers or Padres.
Like the Diamondbacks, the Giants are driven by a blend of veterans and young players.
Free agent acquisition Michael Conforto leads the Giants with 11 home runs. His 28 RBIs are just behind third baseman, J.D. Davis, who has 30.
Free agent acquisition Mitch Haniger has added depth and power to the outfield.
Currently injured Thairo Estrada is also a big surprise. Estrada was hitting .301/.345/.466/.811 before spraining his wrist.
It must be noted that catchers Joey Bart and Roberto Perez are also injured. So are outfielders Luis Gonzalez, Joc Pederson, and Heliot Ramos. The Giants are achieving with less experienced players in the lineup.
As a team, the Giants are hitting .248, which places them at No. 16 in MLB. The team has hit 77 home runs, landing them at No. 7 in MLB. They have scored 259 runs, which places them at No. 15 in baseball.
The Giants most often used lineup now includes:
LaMonte Wade Jr.-1B
Blake Sabol-DH (rookie)
Casey Schmitt-2B (rookie)
Patrick Bailey-C (rookie)
The Giants are getting some timely hitting, and an average pitching staff has the ability to improve.
Like the Diamondbacks, the Giants have been energized by young players. They have added vitality and an injection of youth to a roster that has been populated by veterans for years.
Sabol, who is a catcher and plays the outfield as well as being a designated hitter, is only 25.
Schmitt is 24.
Bailey is 24.
The Giants rank No. 12 overall in MLB pitching. They have a collective ERA of 4.03 and a team WHIP of 1. 27. Opponents are hitting .251 against Giants pitching, which places them No. 21 in that category.
The starting staff includes, Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood. Wood is the lone lefty.
Sean Manaea, Ross Stripling, and John Brebbia have also started for the Giants.
The Giants bullpen has a 4.25 ERA, and they have saved 19 games. If there is an issue of concern with the club, it may be the bullpen efficiency.
Camilo Doval is a superb closer. The team gets excellent contributions from Tyler Rogers in critical situations. At this point, Brebbia is also a high leverage, back-end of the game reliever.
Fangraphs estimates the Giants payroll to be $194 million, or $32 million more than last year.
Adding Conforto and Haniger have proven to be particularly good front office decisions.
For baseball fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants, the season has brought excitement and a chance to play in the postseason.
The Diamondbacks and Giants weren’t expected to be able to catch either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the San Diego Padres.
The Dodgers are still the team to beat in the National League West, but the Padres, often mentioned as a World Series contender, have struggled a bit to date.
As the weather warms and players begin to feel the strain of a long season, both the Diamondbacks and Giants have a nice blend of seasoned veterans and younger, less experienced players to count upon in the months ahead.