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2023: The year the Diamondbacks redefined baseball strategy

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo (17) gestures after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 during Game 2 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Oct. 9, 2023.

As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them,” teams across the league are increasingly showing interest in adopting the Diamondbacks’ style of play.

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In 2023, the D-backs took a step back in time, finding success by diverging from the prevalent focus on home runs or strikeouts and instead utilizing various strategies on the diamond.

While home runs are undoubtedly exciting, they demand a considerable amount of skill and a touch of luck, especially in pivotal moments where a game’s outcome hinges on one powerful swing of the bat.

Conversely, smaller facets of the game, such as bunts, sacrifice flies, stealing bases, and simply moving the runner over, require less skill and prove to be more reliable.

By employing these strategies during the playoffs, teams increase their chances of staying alive. Rather than relying on one monumental swing, they shift their focus to consistently producing runs.

Debates may arise regarding whether this represents the “correct way” to play baseball, but there should be no disagreement about its success in the modern postseason format.

On paper, the Diamondbacks did not boast the most impressive roster, nor did they feature big names. However, they possessed speed, team chemistry, and the ability to create chaos.

Throughout the regular season, the D-backs stole 166 bases, ranking second only to the Cincinnati Reds. Meanwhile, they recorded only 1247 strikeouts, the fourth-best in the league.

Additionally, the D-backs finished first in sacrifice bunts, fourth in sacrifice flies, and fourth in groundouts.

In essence, this chaotic yet straightforward style of play has piqued the interest of owners across the league who may not have an abundance of financial resources but aspire to field a competitive playoff team.

This sentiment was echoed by Tigers’ executive Scott Harris, who expressed, “It’s something that we’ve been trying to bring to Detroit,” according to AZCentral.

And, the Oakland Athletics GM who added, “I think you can’t help but look at where they were two years ago and realize it’s very possible to turn around quickly,”

Other managers expressing a similar desire to emulate the Diamondbacks’ style going forward include the Royals GM and the Blue Jays GM, as reported by Nick Piecoro.

The Diamondbacks may have set a trend in 2023, and it seems only a matter of time before bunts and sacrifices make a resurgence in baseball.

After all, what GM would not be interested in resembling a team that managed to reach the World Series despite winning just 84 wins during the regular season, and holding one of the smallest payrolls in baseball?

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