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Diamondbacks are in a hideous offensive slump

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The Diamondbacks were fourth in the NL in OPS and fifth in runs while going 20-8 during the first month of the season. May, though, has been a problem. After collecting just four hits in an 8-2 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday, the Diamondbacks find themselves batting .190 this month. Here’s the team’s offensive rankings among NL teams this month:

AVG: .190, last in NL (26 points worse than 14th-place St. Louis)
OBP: .267, last in NL (13 points worse than 14th-place New York)
SLG: .301, last in NL (55 points worse than 14th-place San Diego)
Home runs: 10, tied for last in NL with San Diego
Strikeouts: 151, most in NL (two more than San Francisco)
Runs: 38, last in NL (one fewer than a Mets team that’s played two fewer games)

Arizona’s best hitter this year, A.J. Pollock, just landed on the DL with a thumb fracture and is expected to miss at least a month. Paul Goldschmidt‘s OPS has fallen under .700. With Pollock on the DL, the only two Diamondbacks who have been even league average hitters this year are David Peralta (.279/.359/.483) and, incredibly, Daniel Descalso, who has a team-high .363 OBP and is slugging .514. The OBP is 45 points better than his career mark, while the slugging percentage is 155 points better.

The good news for the Diamondbacks is that the team is still 25-18, and no one else in the NL West is seems all that interested in stepping up. Jake Lamb will soon return from his shoulder injury, and Steven Souza should get it going after struggling in his first two weeks back from a five-week absence due to a pectoral strain.

Still, the Diamondbacks badly need Goldschmidt to figure it out, especially now that Pollock is out. His exit velocity remains strong. His strikeout rate is way up — he’s fanned in 30 percent of his plate appearances — but his swinging-strike rate isn’t all that bad. Maybe the humidor is in his head. There’s little doubt that the change in Chase Field baseball is taking a toll on Arizona’s offense at home, but the effect isn’t as severe as Goldschmidt’s numbers would suggest; he’s hitting .140 with no homers at home, compared to .294 with four homers on the road. It might actually be a good thing for the team that it starts a nine-game road swing against the Mets on Friday.

Rob Manfred calls Astros sign-stealing investigation “most thorough” MLB investigation ever

Associated Press
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SAN DIEGO — Commissioner Rob Manfred was asked today about the status of the investigation into the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Manfred said “I think that this is probably the most thorough investigation that the Commissioner’s office has ever undertaken.”

I would assume that construction excludes the Mitchell Report, which was undertaken by an outside party, but I guess it’s still quite a claim.

Manfred said that Major League Baseball has interviewed “nearly 60 witnesses” and has reviewed 76,000 e-mails plus a “trove of instant messages.” He said that they are not done, however, and that the review so far has, “caused us to conclude that we have to do some follow-up interviewing.” He said he cannot predict how long the investigation will take, but “it is my hope to conclude the investigation just as promptly as possible.”

Manfred was asked about the sort of discipline he and his office were contemplating but said, “at this point in the investigation it would be wholly inappropriate for me to speculate” about what discipline was in play.

The investigation comes in the wake of the November 12 report in The Athletic about the Astros’ sign-stealing operation, which allegedly involved use of center field video cameras and the relaying of pitch selection to batters. Former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers confirmed the scheme to The Athletic and at least three other Astros employees confirmed it as well.

In the wake of that initial report, video and audio emerged which appeared to confirm the sign-stealing and emails from an Astros executive to scouts, asking them to use cameras and/or binoculars in an effort to steal signs have been uncovered. Major League Baseball has vowed serious punishment for Astros executives, coaches and employees who were involved in orchestrating the scheme and to any players or officials who are found to be untruthful with MLB officials in the course of the investigation.

Initially, Major League Baseball said its investigation would be a wide-ranging one, including multiple teams. Soon after that, however, Manfred controversially backtracked on that, saying instead that the probe would focus only on the Astros. Which, to be sure, is the club against whom current allegations have been lodged and whom many around the game suspect to be the worst offenders. As we have noted, however, it’s highly unreasonable to assume that the Astros are alone in perpetrating a sophisticated sign-stealing operation, as their scheme was allegedly imported by a player who learned it while playing elsewhere.

Either way, it sounds like MLB has a lot on its plate with this. When we know something, you’ll know something.