Why are the Arizona Diamondbacks winning?

PHOENIX – Among the surprise teams, here in mid-June, are the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. No surprise about the Rangers under manager Bruce Bochy, who has world championship rings with the San Francisco Giants.

While several pundits thought the Diamondbacks would improve, the reality forecast showed another season of mediocrity. The bullpen needed improvement, a closer was to be identified and the starting rotation greatly improved.

What did not enter into the equation is an axiom that tends to identify winners.

For a team to be successful, its key players must produce as one and on the same level. Through the first two and one-half month months, the Diamondbacks appear to have several producing as one and that remains the principal reason for its early season success.

“We’re just never out of it,” said Pavin Smith earlier this season. “We have many good hitters and even good hitters on the bench. We’re definitely never out a game and it’s always good to pick up the bullpen. They have picked us up many times.”

Case in point was the finale of the recent road trip Sunday in Detroit.

Down 5-3 going into the ninth, Corbin Carroll singled in one, and Christian Walker doubled in two to provide the margin of victory. That pushed the Diamondbacks to a season mark of 40-26 after 65 games and tied with Atlanta with the fourth-best record in the majors. Coming into play Monday night, they hold a three-and-one-half game over the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the National League West division.

Given the need to collectively produce as one, batting averages are up and one trade in the off-season remains a principal factor for success. When general manager Mike Haze dealt for catcher Gabriel Moreno and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel, he did so strictly out of need.

A back-up catcher to Carson Kelly was a priority as was the need for a strong right-handed bat. Gurriel has responded and is hitting .301 coming into the current stand. That beings Monday night at Chase Field against Philadelphia.

As a rookie, Moreno was expected to divide playing with Kelly and ease into major league catching responsibilities. Instead, Kelly went down with a fractured wrist on March 20 in a preseason game with the White Sox and remains on Injured Reserve.

Both Morena and Gurriel support the theory that if several players produce as one at a high level, the chances of success improves dramatically. For his part, Moreno is hitting 280 and both were dealt for outfielder Daulton Varsho, who after games of June 11, is hitting .222 in 66 games.

Add the contribution of Walker, who is hitting (.252) and about 30 points higher than pundits predicted in the preseason. As well, infielder Ketel Marte is quietly rebounding from his last few seasons of mediocrity. Coming into the home stand, the 2019 All-Star is hitting .273. Also producing at a high level and another reason for a collective team production is infielder Emmanuel Rivera, who is hitting .354.

What appears to be the catalyst is outfielder Carroll, already anointed by several as the National League rookie-of-the year. Coming into the homestand, Carroll is hitting .308, leads the team in hits and homers and over this last four games, before Monday night, is hitting .526 (10-for-19). His speed on the bases is apparent, Carroll has 19 steads to date and has been caught twice and not since April 29.

Clearly, the offense has significant contributions from several and supports the theory that for teams to be successful, several, at the same time, must be effective.

Monthly honors …Diamondbacks named High-A Hillsboro infielder Ivan Melendez and Triple-A Reno LHP Blake Walston the organization’s Minor League Player- and Pitcher-of-the-Month for May.

During the month, Melendez hit .310 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs. He was a second-round 2022 draft selection from the University of Texas at Austin.

Walston was 4-1 and a 3.10 ERA in five starts. He was a 2019 first-round pick out of New Hanover High School in North Carolina.

Returning to the desert … The Diamondbacks are back in Chase Field for a six-game home stand, Lefty Tommy Henry (3-1, 4.37 ERA) opens against the Phillies on Monday night. The Philadelphia starter is TBA. Three more with the Phillies and then Cleveland comes in for the Father’s Day weekend. Then, a six-game road trip to Milwaukee and San Francisco.

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