The Arizona Diamondbacks won just 84 games in the regular season, but now sit in late October just four wins shy of the franchise’s second World Series championship. Arizona’s run to the Fall Classic could be considered improbable, yet it happened. But, the road to the 2023 NL pennant could be tracked back years. Here’s a look at the Diamondbacks made it to the 2023 World Series.
Building Through the Draft
The Arizona Diamondbacks wouldn’t have made the 2023 World Series, let alone the postseason, without a young group found through the MLB Draft.
The key to Arizona’s success was Corbin Carroll, the likely 2023 NL Rookie of the Year who had both a dominant regular season and playoffs. After 25 home runs and 54 stolen bases in the regular season, the 2019 first-round pick hit .295/.396/.455 with two home runs, four stolen bases, and six RBI through the first three rounds.
The 23-year-old did have a quiet NLCS but showed up in a big way come Game 7 when he notched three hits and two stolen bases off J.T. Realmuto.
Aside from Carroll, NLCS Game 7 starter Brandon Pfaadt (5th Round in 2020 MLB Draft), reliever Kevin Ginkel (22nd Round in 2016 MLB Draft), outfielder Alek Thomas (2nd Round in 2018 MLB Draft), and infielder Geraldo Perdomo (International Free Agent) all played pivotal roles in October for the D-Backs.
A Series of Smart Trades
The Diamondbacks could have traded 2B Ketel Marte when things went south in 2020 and 2021 — but didn’t. That proved to be a smart move, as did a series of other moves made over the past four years by the D-Backs’ front office.
The one that stands out the most is the 2019 trade that sent Jazz Chisholm Jr. to Miami and World Series Game 1 starter Zac Gallen to Arizona. Since the trade, Gallen’s morphed into one of the league’s best starters.
While he didn’t have as good a season as compared to 2022, the New Jersey native won 17 games in the regular season and struck out 220 over 210 IP before a couple of strong starts in both the NL Wild Card round in NLDS.
But in recent times, Mike Hazen and the D-Backs made three critical moves over the last 12 months that solidified the roster. Two of those were in the summer when Arizona acquired OF Tommy Pham from the Mets and reliever Paul Sewald from the Mariners.
Then, there was the deal in December 2022 that sent Daulton Varsho to Toronto to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Gabriel Moreno. Arizona may have given up a catcher/outfielder that could hit 20 home runs and speed. However, the D-Backs got back an equally good power hitter in Gurriel Jr. and the team’s catcher of the future in Moreno.
Those were just the trades that helped the D-Backs get back to the Fall Classic. Don’t forget about Arizona’s decision to ink former KBO star Merrill Kelly, who turned into a workhorse for the Diamondbacks. Nor the 2017 decision to pick up 1B Christian Walker off of waivers.
A Look Ahead to the World Series
Both the Diamondbacks and Rangers had similar roads to the Fall Classic. Both lost over 100 games just two years ago and underwent radical transformations. Now, the two will meet in the World Series.
Look, this Diamondbacks team has defied the odds the whole season. All the attention prior to the year went to San Diego and the Dodgers and a sluggish August indicated that Arizona may need another year or two before finding playoff success.
Fast forward to late October, and the Diamondbacks vanquished two NL division winners and the reigning National League champions. Arizona, armed with a young group, looks poised to compete for years to come and could win it all long before many other people expected them to hit their stride.