10/02/07 6:18 PM ET
Timing is everything for D-backs' bats
Arizona's offense has defied statistics to reach postseason
By Michael Schwartz / MLB.com
Clark pointed to the Sept. 10 game at San Francisco, when Jeff Salazar needed to be removed from the starting lineup because his ankle could not handle playing the outfield. Instead of receiving a day off, Salazar ended up smoking one of the biggest homers of the season, a go-ahead, three-run shot with two outs in the ninth."It's one thing to talk about it: 'Come on guys, let's all pull the same direction and see what we can do,'" Clark said. "It's something else to buy into it, believe it and then watch it play out." Arizona's aggression on the basepaths, emphasized since Spring Training by bench coach Kirk Gibson, has also put the D-backs in position to score extra runs. That includes running out every ground ball, taking the extra base and stealing bases, a category in which Arizona ranked fifth in the NL with 109 swipes. The baserunning exploits start with Byrnes, who stole a team-high 50 bases and stretched a single into a double and a double into a triple on a number of occasions. "We're going to go out there, and we're going to play the game the right way, and I think that's very rare in today's game with Major League Baseball players," Byrnes said. "I don't think you're ever going to find a team that runs balls out the way we do, that gives you the effort night in and night out that this team does." At the plate, Melvin has called Young the poster child for the success of Arizona's offense. The center fielder hit .237 with a .295 on-base percentage and only drove in 68 runs off a team-high 32 homers. But time and time again, Young came up in a clutch situation and knocked out a game-winning homer, as he did three times in a two-week stretch in June or drilled a ball down the line for a three-run double like he did against the Padres and Jake Peavy in a pivotal game on Sept. 5. "He can go 0-for-3 and strike out three times and hit a two-run homer to win the game for you," Melvin said on Aug. 7. "It's timing more than anything else, and he's come up big for us timing-wise any number of times this year. He's been kind of what this team's all about." When the D-backs open up their playoff series with the Cubs on Wednesday, it's easy to question how a team with such a poor offense on paper has played so well for six months of the baseball season. A sign often displayed around Chase Field the past month represents D-backs fans' response to statisticians: Don't try to explain it, just enjoy it. "We find ways to create runs when we need them, and that's probably the best attribute of this team, definitely the best attribute of this offense," Byrnes said. "The fact that we've been outscored, the fact that we're next to last in the [Major Leagues] in batting, I don't think anyone in here really cares because it seems like we've gotten runs when we need them."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.