Arizona Diamondbacks: A likable, underappreciated bunch

Jun 9, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo (17) looks on against the Milwaukee Brewers during the fifth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 9, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo (17) looks on against the Milwaukee Brewers during the fifth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Arizona Diamondbacks have quietly put together the league’s third best record at 50-29. Maybe it’s time they get the respect they deserve.

There are many things I like regarding the game of baseball. I like home runs, I like 6-4-3 double plays, I like plays at the plate. Heck, I like the sacrifice bunt.

But in 2017, there’s one thing that I’ve grown especially fond of: The Arizona Diamondbacks. The pesky, never-quit D-Backs that are somehow locked in a race for first place out of the National League West with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers are the best team in baseball, according to’s power rankings, and rightfully so. But right behind The Boys in Blue are the Diamondbacks facing a 1.5 game deficit for the division lead. And while the Dodgers are basking in their glory as the baseball bosses, the Diamondbacks are lost in their shadow.

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Which is a little absurd, if you ask me. But understandable, I suppose.

Not much was expected out of this year’s D-Backs squad. It was hard to get excited about a team that went 69-93 the previous season. But, they experienced a pretty significant makeover, including new management in the dugout and the front office.

Out went general manager Dave Stewart and manager Chip Hale, and in came Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo. Fans were happy to part ways with Stewart and Hale, as seemingly more bad than good happened during their two years in charge.

Hazen and Lovullo, both coming off lengthy stints in Boston, made their presence known right away. The newly-appointed GM Hazen reeled in Taijuan Walker, Fernando Rodney, Jeremy Hazelbaker, and Chris Iannetta in hopes of rebounding from a disappointing 2016 campaign.

“I am very optimistic that we have the capabilities of doing something special,” Lovullo explained to reporters in November.

The Diamondbacks are undeniably doing something special in Lovullo’s first year in the desert. Anchored by Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, they’ve quietly compiled one of the game’s strongest rotations. Paul Goldschmidt might as well be an MVP candidate, and is doing so as one of the most underrated players in all of baseball. They even possess the third best record at 50-28.

And yet for some reason, nobody’s batting an eye at these D-Backs. Why is that?

There are several reasons why I suspect they’re not getting the respect they deserve. It probably doesn’t help that they’re sandwiched in between the heavyweight Dodgers and the out-of-nowhere Colorado Rockies. Often do they find themselves lost in the shuffle amongst the other two respective clubs.

Secondly, the Diamondbacks aren’t a big-market team. With the exception of Greinke’s six-year, $206.5 million contract, they’ve never been a team to splurge on highly-touted free agents. They entered the 2017 season with the fifth-lowest payroll in all of baseball at $93,257,600. They’re not the flashiest team like the Dodgers, who spend freely and live with no remorse.

And realistically, look at the roster. Goldschmidt and Greinke are the two most notable players they own. Sure, Jake Lamb and David Peralta have blossomed as vital bats in the middle of a potent lineup. A.J. Pollock, too, when healthy, but he’s struggled doing so in recent seasons.

Next: Arizona Diamondbacks: Starting pitching is the story of the year

Perhaps that’s why I’m enthusiastic of these no-name Diamondbacks. I love what they’re doing. I love watching them play. I think they have a legitimate shot to turn this hot first-half into a season-long trend.

It’s silly that they’ve done this — the third team to reach 50 wins in the majors — seemingly under the radar. For what it’s worth, we ought to respect how the Diamondbacks have emerged into potential contenders.

As Lovullo claimed, they just might do something special.