One of the hottest teams in baseball over the last month is the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This statement seems difficult to believe after the Diamondbacks decided to act as sellers at the trade deadline. The squad made one of the most attention-grabbing deals at the time, but swapping Zack Greinke for a bounty of young prospects. The organization also dealt consistent All-Star Paul Goldschmidt during the off-season and has seen stalwart Jake Lamb limited for the second straight season, playing in just 62 games.
However, Arizona has received a jolt from two unlikely sources in the middle of the lineup. The most popular lately is Ketel Marte, and for good reason. Marte is hitting .330 with 32 home runs. He has career highs across the board offensively.
Marte has been the model of consistency as well. He has just one month hitting under .300 and that was his .250 average in March/April. Additionally, he’s only had one month of an OPS under .950. Marte has, for the most part, avoided a slump all season.
Marte ranks seventh in all of baseball in WAR. He ranks third in batting average, sixth in slugging percentage and seventh in OPS. Lately some have been putting Marte in the National League MVP talk. While this is a complete stretch for him to win, he certainly deserves votes.
Overshadowed by the monster season Marte is enjoying, is his slugging mate Eduardo Escobar. Quietly, Escobar is also having a career year. He’s hitting .270 with 33 home runs and 110 RBI in just 140 games in 2019.
Escobar did hit 21 and 23 home runs in back-to-back seasons in 2017 and ‘18, but still nobody could have seen this power breakout coming. Escobar smacked 10 home runs in August, when Arizona really needed to get back in the race. This is production that even the Diamondbacks couldn’t have dreamed of when trading for Escobar at the 2018 deadline.
As a team, Arizona is 11-2 in its last 13 games to pull within just a game and a half of the Cubs for the second Wild Card. Combine that with the Javier Baez thumb injury and anything seems possible with this race. The Diamondbacks also close with one of the easiest schedules in the game.