The National League West has been referred to as (arguably) the best division in baseball this season. As of this writing, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, and Arizona Diamondbacks all have records that reside in the top-five in all of baseball.
Sitting 10.5 games behind a ridiculously hot Dodgers squad in the division ladder, the Diamondbacks took measures towards securing their spot when October baseball comes around last week, acquiring Detroit Tigers slugger J.D. Martinez.
The #Tigers have acquired INF’s Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara & Jose King from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for OF J.D. Martinez.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 18, 2017
This deal could not have come at a better time for the Diamondbacks, as they looked to expand on their lead over the Brewers or Cubs for one of the two Wild Card spots. Since making the deal, the D-Backs have won seven of their last 13 games, and have taken over the first Wild Card position.
Martinez, 29, was considered to be arguably the top position player on this summer’s trade market. Given the number of teams fighting for a Wild Card spot still, that’s a pretty fair assessment. Coming into Arizona, the slugger was sporting a .305/.388/.630 batting line on the season, having also belted 16 home runs, driven in 39 runs, and a 1.018 OPS.
When looking at splits, this acquisition become even more important. The Diamondbacks as a team, are hitting .260 against southpaws this year. Looking at how Arizona has fared against the southpaws in the NL West, the stats become even more concerning.[table "” not found /]
This season, Martinez has been crushing lefties to the tune of .442/.520/1.070 batting line, with seven home runs, 13 RBIs, and 19 hits in 43 at-bats. Certainly, these numbers were a major factor in Arizona’s pursuit of the slugger. In a division that boasts Kershaw, Bumgarner, Hill, and Wood, teams need all the help they can get when facing left-handers.
With Kershaw recently hitting the disabled list for an extended period of time, the Diamondbacks will catch a break after acquiring Martinez, with him able to avoid Kershaw in his first Dodgers series. In his first 32 at-bats with Arizona, the slugger has gotten off to a rough start with a .219 average, but has more than made up for it with his five home runs and 12 RBIs.
As expected, Martinez slid in at right field, with the team moving David Peralta over to left, filling the void left by the injury to Yasmany Tomas, who’s likely headed for a lessened role upon his return from the disabled list. The real benefit, though, is going to be sliding Martinez between Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb in the lineup, creating one of the more feared threesomes in the game today.
With about two months left in the season, the National League West may no longer be within Arizona’s reach, but they’ve got a strong hold on the Wild Card spot. Regardless of if they catch the Dodgers, this move was made to position the Diamondbacks for a potentially deep postseason run.