Sep 14, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) leads off of second base as Colorado Rockies left fielder Ian Desmond (20) covers the bag during the fifth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Wild, Wild West: NL Wild Card Playoff Preview

Two teams who are facing off against each other are both in uncharted territory. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies surprised the baseball world by making the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and 2009, respectively.

How they got here

Both teams are led by two of the favorites to win the National League Most Valuable Player. Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt was third in the NL in runs (117), 11th in hits (166), tied for 6th in home runs (36), fourth in RBIs (120) and sixth in WAR (6.9). Goldschmidt set a career high in runs and tied a career high in home runs (also hit 36 in 2013). Colorado’s Nolan Arenado had his best season to date. He set career highs in hits (187, sixth in the NL), triples (seven, tied for fifth in the NL), batting average (.309, eighth in the NL), on-base percentage (.373, 18th in the NL), slugging percentage (.586, tied for third in the NL), OPS (.959, sixth in the NL), WAR (7.3, third in the NL) and tied a career high in doubles (43, tied for first in the NL). In addition, Arenado was one of the best defensive players in baseball this season, posting a 2.05 defensive WAR, which was sixth in the MLB. He also had 130 RBIs, which was second in the NL.

Both teams were among baseball’s leaders in offensive production, ranking in the top 10 in runs, RBIs, doubles, triples, total bases, slugging percentage and OPS. In addition, the Rockies ranked in the top five in hits, batting average and on-base percentage. Other than Goldschmidt, a big reason for Arizona’s offensive firepower was JD Martinez, who was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Diamondbacks back in July. The trade proved to be crucial for Arizona as Martinez would go on to smash 16 home runs in September. That ties Ralph Kiner in 1949 for the September National League record. For Colorado, while Arenado was the team’s best overall player, there’s no question that Charlie Blackmon was the team’s best offensive player as he ranked in the top 10 in every major offensive category in the National League.

https://twitter.com/Rockies/status/914928370839932928

Arizona also had one of the best pitching staffs, ranking third in baseball with a 3.66 ERA. On the contrary, Colorado had a below average pitching staff for the season, ranking 17th with a 4.51 ERA.

A tale of two halves

Both teams had  strong first halves of the season. The Diamondbacks were 50-31 through the first 81 games of the season while the Rockies were 47-34. As solid as that record is, however, it should be noted that the Rockies were 47-26 at one point before losing eight straight games. The start of that losing streak ignited a 40-49 record for the rest of the season. The Diamondbacks finished their second half with a respectable 43-39 record.

What both teams need to do better

The Diamondbacks were one of the most mistake-prone teams in baseball, committing 108 errors, which was 26th in the league. This contributed to the team having a fielding percentage of .982, which was 24th. The Rockies were one of the best defensive teams in baseball, committing just 77 errors (third in the league) and posting a fielding percentage of .987 (tied for second in the league).

As mentioned before, the Rockies had a below average pitching staff, ranking 17th in ERA (4.51), 16th in earned runs allowed (721) and 23rd in opponent batting average (.264)

What happens next?

Whoever wins this game will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. The Dodgers posted a league-best 104-58 record. Both teams had success against the Dodgers, with the Diamondbacks posting a 11-8 record against them and the Rockies posting a 10-9 record.

Schedule

The NL Wild Card playoff game will begin tomorrow at 8 p.m. TBS will provide national coverage.

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