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Presenting: your first place Arizona Diamondbacks

Aug 3, 2011, 9:15 AM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Getty Images

Well, tied for first place, but they got the mojo.

The Dbacks have won four in a row and the Giants have dropped five straight.  The last two in each of those streaks came against the other, and now the defending World Series champs are deadlocked with Arizona.  I don’t necessarily believe in “statement games” or “statement series” — they seem like talk radio creations — but it’s worth noting that the Diamondbacks’ last trip to San Francisco resulted in a Giants sweep and the Dbacks dipping seven games under .500.  Since that sweep they are 46-27.

We all got warm fuzzies when the Pirates flirted with contending for a week or so.  The Diamondbacks weren’t expected to be any good this year either, yet here they are.  Contending.  Competing against a Giants team that has lost its gravity lately.

The calendar is just turning to August and there is still a lot of baseball to be played, but this Giants-Dbacks series feels like the 2011 pennant race making its formal introduction.

  1. shaggylocks - Aug 3, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    The D-Backs are contending! Great! Good thing they have that ace pitcher, whats-his-name. Ubaldo something-or-other. That’ll really help them down the stretch!

  2. bleedgreen - Aug 3, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    I guess Beltran was the missing piece for the Giants, huh?

  3. crispybasil - Aug 3, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    It’s obvious that Willie Bloomquist has willed the team to first place.

    • 5thbase - Aug 3, 2011 at 3:45 PM

      He’s scrappy.

  4. Jonny 5 - Aug 3, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    And then the Giants get 4 straight against Philly. They’ll get to miss Roy H. though…..

  5. RK - Aug 3, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    SF shouldn’t be too difficult to contend with considering their unfortunate All-Star DL.

  6. parlorboss - Aug 3, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    The ace’s name is Ian Kennedy, although Daniel Hudson is right behind him.

  7. ja4ed - Aug 3, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    Justin Upton = MVP?

    • lampdwellr - Aug 3, 2011 at 10:28 AM

      Upton is pretty similar to Matt Kemp, right? Kemp is .321/.396/.591. Upton is .301/.378/.550 . Kemp also has more HR and SB, and is leading the NL in RBI, which people seem to care about, and plays CF rather than RF.

      Kemp is just better this year, though since pennants appear to matter to people I guess Upton has a shot.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 3, 2011 at 10:37 AM

        Kemp for MOP and Upton for MVP.

      • Matt - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:29 AM

        Um…the most outstanding player is the player that adds the most value to his team, making him the MVP as well…

    • aleskel - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:12 AM

      position and home ballpark matter – by Baseball Reference’s WAR, Kemp is right now leading the NL with 6.6 (6.3 batting, 0.3 defense); Upton is at 3.8 (4.0 batting, – 0.2 defense), which isn’t even in the top 10 in the NL.

      • ja4ed - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:09 PM

        Did you not mention fWAR for some reason? UZR hates Kemp’s defense so the fWAR sees the difference in Kemp and Upton at 0.1.

        Kemp has probably been a little bit better, but we all know that the rules of MVP voting state that all players from non-contending teams cannot win.

      • Ari Collins - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:10 PM

        UZR (which is, in my opinion, definitely better for OFs, since it’s all about range) is much higher on Upton and lower on Kemp, so per fWAR they’re essentially tied.

        Either one would make a fine MVP at this point.

      • Ari Collins - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        I think we’re far along in the sabermetric revolution that non-contending teams’ players can win the MVP if they’re decidedly better. Well, I guess I’m not sure of that. Don’t think it’s happened since A-Rod in 2003.

        We’ve gotten past wins in the Cy Young, at least. Maybe players on losing teams can start winning MVPs soon.

      • stoankold - Aug 3, 2011 at 2:28 PM

        @Ari – That all depends on how people define “value” doesn’t it? Could the team have been in the same position without said player? If a player puts up great numbers (sabermetric or otherwise) for a team that finishes 20 games out, how valuable can that possibly be? Should he win an award for keeping his team from finishing 25-30 games out? Probably not. Whereas a player putting up similar numbers for a team that’s playing meaningful games in September and October probably should.

        The Cy Young Award is not given to the most “valuable” pitcher, it’s given to the best pitcher. That definition lends itself more easily to the analysis of advanced metrics as you mentioned.

        A Cy Young Award winner is eligible to win the MVP because they’re different awards with different criteria. Same goes for MOP and MVP.

  8. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 3, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    I am sure I will get a thousand thumbs downs for this, but it has to be said…The Giants picked up one of the three Choke-sketeers(Along with Wright and Reyes, he was part of the biggest choke in the HISTORY of baseball in 2007) and they have choked since. Now, that’s just a fact. You want to tell me Beltran was the best player on that 2007 team. OK. You want to tell me he had nothing to do with them choking a 7 game lead with 17 games left in the season. OK. But if the Giants don’t make the playoffs, it might just come down to one thing…Beltran.

    Let the thumbing down commence!!!!!!!!!

    • Jonny 5 - Aug 3, 2011 at 10:53 AM

      LOL!! I was just talking to a very smart Mets fan I work with and we were joking about how much Beltran will help the Giants in tough situations, and he said “Beltran has awesome numbers but he is as far from “clutch” as anyone I’ve seen.” And then he called him a “master of choke” .

      • spindervish - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:08 AM

        Yeah, that career 1.302 postseason OPS is pretty un-clutch.

      • Jonny 5 - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:59 AM

        Yeah because using his numbers from 6 and 8 seasons ago when he was in the post season tells you a lot about a player today. C’mon spindervish PAY ATTENTION! Since then look at his OPS in high leverage situations, it has been bad. Barring one season where his BABIP was almost .500 in high leverage situations driving his OPS upward with luck.

      • Matt - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:13 PM

        And what was his BABIP in the seasons he wasnt clutch?

      • Jonny 5 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        2009 in high leverage, Beltran posts
        OPS / BABIP
        1.048 / .484

        .652 / .286

        .763 / .294

        2009 shows he had a great OPS in clutch situations while having a very high BABIP as well. Take the “luck” out (which I like to call ability to hit the ball into a gap) and Beltran reverts to being very “unclutchy” lately. People who see him blast the ball all over then in tough situations see him fail (fans) for the last couple years have been saying this. He’s not the worst thing out there. I’m not cutting him up.

      • spindervish - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        So he used to be clutch, but is clutch no longer? I thought clutchiness was an innate quality you were born with. Can the “clutch gene” spontaneously develop, and just as spontaneously disappear?

        Who are you, Skip Bayless?

      • Jonny 5 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:33 PM

        It doesn’t matter which way you twist it Spindervish, are you going to call him clutch for what he did long ago, or the opposite for what he’s been doing lately?

      • spindervish - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:56 PM

        Me? Neither. I find the whole concept pretty ridiculous.

        I prefer to think of Beltran as a very good hitter who as such is more likely than most to perform well in any given situation.

      • Jonny 5 - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:24 PM

        Actually I tend to lean in the direction you do more than to thinking people are “clutch” or not (even though some people buck trends). I was just really sticking up for the guy I work with, it is what he’s been seeing from him of late. I was only repeating the words of a Mets fan. It was fun though.

      • spindervish - Aug 3, 2011 at 3:19 PM

        Fair enough.

        However, I would recommend that you make fun of your friend.

    • aleskel - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:18 AM

      Beltran OPS, 2007: .276/.353/.525 (.878)

      Beltran OPS, Sept./Oct. 2007: .282/.328/.555 (.882)

      These are not the droids you are looking for

  9. APBA Guy - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Don’t forget, the Giants had just added Posey at roughly this point last year, and this year they don’t have him. In my estimation the addition of Beltran makes this Giants team the approximate equal of last year’s, a team which barely made it into the playoffs, then had a great run. This team will again have to fight and claw to squeak into the playoffs. The offense just isn’t deep enough to give them any margin.

  10. marshmallowsnake - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    I will be going to the D’Backs/Dodgers game this Friday…if you look closely, you will see me in the crowd. Just do not get me confused with the multitude of empty seats that are sure to be there as well. The fan base here rocks! (better then Tampa though…as the D’Backs are not giving away 20k tickets yet)

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