The Arizona Diamondbacks won just 84 games in the 2023 regular season but went on an incredible run in October that saw the team capture the National League pennant. Here’s our recap of the 2023 Arizona Diamondbacks.
Outfielder Corbin Carroll went from top prospect to NL MVP candidate in a matter of months. Carroll had a historic rookie season, one that saw him hit .285/.362/.506 with 25 home runs, 54 stolen bases, and 65 extra-base hits in his first full pro season.
The 23-year-old wreaked havoc in both the regular season and playoffs but he wasn’t alone. Ketel Marte rebounded from a weird 2022 to hit 25 home runs in 2023, while Lourdes Gurriel Jr. belted 24 in 2023 after he was acquired via trade in December 2022.
That trade also netted the D-Backs Gabriel Moreno, a talented catcher who hit .284 (.747 OPS) in 2023 and has room to grow.
The rotation, at least at the top, was very good. Both Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly proved to be durable arms for Arizona, while Brandon Pfaadt settled down as the season progressed to become the D-Backs’ #3 starter. Pfaadt’s postseason numbers — 3.27 ERA and 26 K over 22 IP — are, from Arizona’s perspective, hopefully a sign of things to come.
Arizona’s bullpen was (mostly) a major strength in the playoffs, thanks in large part to Kevin Ginkel and Paul Sewald. Ginkel, a former 22nd-round pick in 2016, struck out 70 over 65.1 IP in the regular season and owned a WHIP of .98. The righty followed that up with 11.2 scoreless frames in the playoffs.
As for Sewald, the Arizona paid a hefty price for the reliever at the Trade Deadline. It wasn’t smooth sailing at times, but Sewald did what he needed to do in the Playoffs. The veteran righty threw eight scoreless frames over the first three rounds. However, he gave up six runs in two frames during the World Series.
The Diamondbacks were far from a consistent team in the regular season.
It didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but Arizona went 20-31 between July 1 and August 31. That was a stretch that could have prevented Arizona from making the MLB Playoffs altogether, but a solid September and help from other NL contenders paved the way for Arizona to make it back to October.
Arizona’s pitching in the regular season was a mixed bag. Gallen had a strong overall year but struggled at times in both the second half of the regular season and playoffs. Ryne Nelson didn’t blow batters away at all in 2023, while Zach Davies owned an ERA of 7.00 before being ultimately DFA’d.
Davies was one of two notable veteran starters to be cut mid-season by Arizona. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (10.26 ERA, 15 BB, and 5 HR in 16.2 IP) got shelled early on before the front office cut bait with the three-time World Series champion.
Outfielder Alek Thomas posted the 15th-lowest OPS (.647) among hitters with at least 400 plate appearances, just three points higher than Jake McCarthy (.644). However, Thomas washed away a rough regular season at the plate with a terrific postseason. The former second-round pick belted four home runs over the D-Backs’ first three playoff rounds.
What to Look For in 2024
In a sense, the loss in the World Series was a bittersweet one.
Sure, Arizona wasn’t expected to come close to the NL pennant at the start of the season but saw the team’s young talent and veterans put it together at the right time. But by that same token, the road back to another Fall Classic won’t be easy.
The D-Backs will return a very good core but will need to contend with the potential losses of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Tommy Pham in the offseason. On top of that, Christian Walker and Paul Sewald can both walk after 2024, which adds another layer of uncertainty to Arizona’s future.
The good news for Diamondbacks fans? Owner Ken Kendrick did state he’s planning for a player payroll increase, a good sign for a team that’s set to contend for years to come.