Supporting Cast Has Been Arizona Diamondbacks' Biggest Strength So Far In 2016

By Bryan Zarpentine

The early part of the 2016 has not gone as expected for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Despite a five-game winning streak, the Diamondbacks are still under .500, which is not where they expected to be after all the high-profile moves the team made last winter. Many of the team’s stars have underperformed thus far, while oddly enough, the Diamondbacks are being carried this season by many of their supporting players.

To everyone’s surprise, Arizona’s most productive offensive player this season has been Jean Segura. The Diamondbacks took a flyer on him late in the offseason hoping he could return to what he was in 2013, and he’s done that and then some. He’s turned into the perfect replacement for Ender Inciarte and the injured A.J. Pollock in the leadoff spot, which is exactly what Arizona needed.

The Diamondbacks have also received surprising performances from Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury. Lamb has taken hold of the third base job with a strong performance, while the Diamondbacks are playing Drury in a variety of positions just to get his bat in the lineup, as he appears to be in the midst of a breakout season. Meanwhile, Welington Castillo and Yasmany Tomas have helped provide plenty of power for Arizona’s lineup.

Heading into the season, the Diamondbacks were uncertain what they would get from most of these players, as they were projected to be supporting guys at best. However, players like Segura, Lamb, Drury, Tomas and Castillo have been the strength of the Diamondbacks, despite the fact that many were overshadowed at the start of the season by Arizona’s more established stars and their high-profile offseason acquisitions.

Arizona’s problem is that they are not getting star performances from guys they thought would be marquee players. Paul Goldschmidt is hitting more than 50 points below his career average and does not look like the MVP candidate he’s been in past years. David Peralta’s numbers are also well below his production last season, while the absence of Pollock due to injury has hindered the team as well.

Of course, Arizona’s pitching staff has been the biggest disappointment. Both Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller have been utter disasters through the first six weeks of the season, while Patrick Corbin has thus far taken a step back instead of a step forward in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. Such disappointing efforts from Arizona’s starting rotation have largely negated a solid performance from the bullpen and surprise production from many of the team’s ancillary players.

The key for Arizona going forward is twofold. First, they need established stars, both on the mound and in the batter’s box, to start turning things around and perform as expected. Second, they need the ancillary players who have performed so well thus far to continue to produce at such a high level, at least until the team’s stars can pick up the slack. Arizona’s supporting cast has surprisingly been the team’s biggest strength thus far, but there’s no certainty they’ll be able to keep it going long enough to get the Diamondbacks to the postseason without the stars stepping forward as expected.

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