How could the San Francisco Giants have over double the Diamondbacks payroll yet sit six games back of them in the N.L. West standings, going into this weekend’s crucial matchup in San Francisco? The defending champions have faltered this season because of a lack of successful solutions to fixing their offensive woes. Their only hitter with an above 2 WAR is Pablo Sandoval (3.9), and even with their pitching that’s impossible to overcome.
The Giants also only have 4 hitters with a WAR over 1. It’s impossible to win a division when the team’s batting lineup cannot score any runs no matter how good their pitching is. The Giants have pumped over 45 million dollars into their starting rotation this season, but have failed in all of their attempts to buy offense to support that starting pitching.
Many would be surprised to know that the Diamondbacks payroll is lower than the Florida Marlins, which is second lowest in the National League. Their entire team makes just 8 million dollars more than just the Giants starting rotation. However, the Diamondbacks are making the right decisions with their money. No player on the Diamondbacks makes 6 million dollars (that is 1/3 of Barry Zito’s salary for this season). Yet the Diamondbacks have a legitimate offense and their pitching can match up with that of the Giants
Diamondbacks team batting WAR is 26.7 or third in the N.L. and first among teams in the N.L. that are in the playoff picture. The Giants have the worst batting WAR in the N.L. at 11.4. The Giants are second in the N.L. in pitching WAR at 21, while the Diamondbacks are 5th at 13.8.
The Diamondbacks have 5 hitters with a WAR over 3, which could make up for all those games Arizona is up in the standings. The Diamondbacks have been able to develop their offense, Justin Upton (6.3 WAR), Chris Young (3.6), Miguel Montero (3.6), Geraldo Parra (3.2) are all products of Arizona’s farm system. Stephen Drew (1.9) is homegrown as well, but the D-backs lost him for the season. However, they’ve been able to survive this injury, unlike the Giants’ ability to deal with Carlos Beltran and Brian Wilson going down.
Arizona has also done a good job of making moves to acquire cheap youthful talented players, like Ryan Roberts (3.6), Daniel Hudson (4.3), Ian Kennedy (3.5), and David Hernandez (1.3). These four players make a combined 1.7 million dollars this season for a combined WAR of 12.7; that is ridiculous. Moving Edwin Jackson in exchange for Daniel Hudson, overpaid Mark Reynolds for David Hernandez, Max Scherzer for Ian Kennedy, and signing Ryan Roberts to a minor league deal in ’09, as well as, player development have made the Diamondbacks a viable contender.
Arizona is proof that a team without a payroll the size of the Phillies and Giants in the N.L., can be extremely competitive when they make the right moves with the little money they have.