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It is uncommon for a 74-win team such as the 2022 Arizona Diamondbacks to make as many memories as they did. This is a team that finished 37 games behind the NL West division leader and 13 games out of the National League wild card.
But the boys in Sedona red established a new brand of baseball in 2022, unlike anything Valley sports have ever seen. The team has arguably the most promising young core of players in franchise history, most of whom seemingly run faster than the speed of light.
There is no world in which missing the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season is a success, but that should not impede fans from enjoying the moments along the way that had them jumping out of their seats or off their couches.
On final media day, manager Torey Lovullo was leery about looking back positively on a season that did not end in a postseason run. He also acknowledged that with that 2022 season came many memories that ought to be cherished for years to come.
“There were so many golden moments where either I was shaking my head in amazement or just smiling with pure delight,” Lovullo said.
Beginning with No. 10 and ending with No. 1, let’s look back on the moments that will stick with us from the 2022 Diamondbacks season.
No. 10: Alek Thomas robs Joey Votto…twice!
It is no secret that Alek Thomas was one of baseball’s best center fielders in 2022, and no one knows that better than long-time Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. In the bottom of the first at Great American Ball Park on June 8, Thomas pulled back what should have been a two-run homer.
Three innings later, Thomas robbed Votto again, this time of a single.
Thomas revealed later on MLB Network that, upon reaching first base later in the game, he told Votto he was sorry.
Thomas probably didn’t feel bad for long, though. Less than a week later, Merrill Kelly, the beneficiary of Thomas’ defensive prowess that day, left a Louis Vuitton backpack worth more than $2,000 in Thomas’ locker as a thank-you.
Thomas’ home run robbery on June 8 was not his only one of the season. He made a similar play on Aug. 13 at Coors Field. That home run may not have made a difference in the game — the D-backs already led 6-0 with two outs in the ninth — but the look on bench coach Jeff Bannister’s face after it happened was priceless.
No. 9: Stone Garrett’s memorable MLB debut
After a long and trying path to the big leagues, Stone Garrett made his major-league debut with the D-backs on Aug. 17. Like many Diamondbacks players who debuted in 2022, he made an impact instantly. Garrett doubled twice, scored a run and drove in a run in his debut.
According to Would It Dong, Garrett’s first hit in the big leagues would have been a homer in 10 out of 30 ballparks. It traveled 397 feet.
The D-backs went on to tally one of their most memorable wins of the year. Trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning, pinch-hitter Jake McCarthy came up big with a two-out, two-run single. The team ultimately won, 3-2. It was arguably one of the D-backs’ best all-around games of the year.
No. 8: Josh Rojas’ three-homer game
They don’t call Chicago the Windy City for nothing. According to the weather report recorded on Baseball-Reference, the wind at Wrigley Field was blowing out to center field at 25 MPH on May 20. Josh Rojas took full advantage.
After starting the year on the injured list with an oblique strain, Rojas was playing in just his 14th game of the year. His OPS went from .617 to .878 in one day. He became the 11th player in franchise history to hit three or more homers in a game.
No. 7: Sergio Alcántara’s dramatic walk-off homer
Out of all Diamondbacks hitters in 2022, Sergio Alcántara ranked third in win probability added. His biggest moment of the year happened on Sep. 14, when he pounded a walk-off, three-run homer over the right-field wall that erased a 3-2 Dodgers lead. With one swing of the bat — against Craig Kimbrel, no less — Alcántara lowered the Dodgers’ chance of winning from 77 percent to zero.
After a so-so stint with the D-backs to open the year, Alcántara was designated for assignment and claimed by the San Diego Padres in May. On July 5, the D-backs acquired him again. From that point forward, he slashed .265/.318/.444 with five homers, six doubles and 19 RBI.
No. 6: Ryne Nelson, Drey Jameson dominate Padres in first career starts
Yes, Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson’s major-league debuts were two distinct events, but they were equally awesome and it would be a crime to rank one higher than the other. We’ll start with Nelson’s since it came first.
After allowing a double to Jurickson Profar to start the game, Nelson retired the next 17 batters he faced. He finished his outing with seven punchouts in seven scoreless innings. Nelson went on to set a franchise record for starting pitchers by opening his career with 13 consecutive scoreless innings.
Jameson’s debut came 10 days later. Like his former roommate, Jameson tossed seven scoreless innings against the Padres in his first big-league start. He struck out five and generated 11 ground balls.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Nelson and Jameson are the first teammates to throw seven-plus scoreless innings in their MLB debuts in the same season since a pair of Detroit Tiger teammates did in 2002.
No. 5: Druw Jones throws ceremonial first pitch at Chase Field
Druw Jones’ first pitch did not happen in an actual game, nor did it count for anything. But looking back on the best moments of the 2022 Diamondbacks without mentioning Jones would be a mistake.
The Diamondbacks drafted Jones with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft on July 23. Jones’ was the consensus top talent in the draft, and represents yet another weapon for the future of the Diamondbacks’ outfield.
Thomas was chosen to catch Jones’ first pitch that day. For anyone else, he would have signed the ball afterward. But that day, he insisted Jones sign the ball for him instead.
Several days later, Jones suffered a shoulder injury in batting practice that warranted season-ending surgery. Barring any setbacks, Diamondbacks farm director Josh Barfield said in our year-end interview that “he should be ready around the beginning of next year, give or take.”
No. 4: Buddy Kennedy’s grand slam on Father’s Day
After singling in each of his first two big-league games, Diamondbacks utility infielder Buddy Kennedy saved his best for Father’s Day.
It is not often a player’s first homer is a grand slam, much less on Father’s Day, with his dad in attendance. Kennedy’s father, Clifton, had some heartfelt words for his son in a postgame interview.
No. 3: Corbin Carroll doubles in big-league debut
There was an extra buzz at Chase Field on Aug. 29. The Diamondbacks, coming off a road sweep of the Chicago White Sox, were back at home taking on the Philadelphia Phillies. But now, they had a new weapon at their disposal. That weapon was outfielder Corbin Carroll, the consensus top prospect in the organization. He played only 142 minor-league games since graduating from Seattle’s prestigious Lakeside School in 2019, yet there was no question he was ready for the majors.
The series opener against the Phillies did not start as planned, though. Phillies hitters teed off early on Madison Bumgarner, smacking 11 hits and scoring seven runs before chasing him from the game in the fourth. At that point, the D-backs trailed, 7-0.
A resilient Diamondbacks’ offense scratched across three runs in the fourth. When Carroll came up for his third career at-bat in the fifth, the D-backs had tied the game and still had runners at second and third with two outs. Carroll’s first hit in the big leagues gave his team the lead.
The D-backs dominated the rest of the way and won the game, 13-7. It was the biggest comeback win in franchise history. Looking back, Lovullo now pegs that game as a turning point in the season.
“Something was created that that afternoon or that that evening. We had a purpose that day,” Lovullo said. “We were a different team from that day forward.”
No. 2: Zac Gallen sets franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings
With the arrival of renowned pitching coach Brent Strom last winter, Zac Gallen was a trendy pick to break out after a down year in 2021. He started strong, but a rough stint from May 24 to July 8 brought his ERA from 1.14 to 3.62, erasing any possibility of an All-Star appearance in the process.
After the All-Star break, Gallen reached a level no Diamondbacks pitcher has reached before. He threw 44 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, narrowly beating the previous franchise record of 42 innings set by Brandon Webb in 2007. Gallen consistently brushed off the significance of the streak while it was happening, but when it ended, he could not deny how special it was.
“It’s just awesome to be able to be mentioned in the same conversation as a legend of the franchise,” he said.
Gallen finished the year 12-4 with a 2.54 ERA and a National League-leading 0.91 WHIP. His .186 opponent batting average was the lowest ever by a qualified starter in Diamondbacks history.
No. 1: Seth Beer walks it off on National Beer Day
When a player with the last name Beer hit a walk-off homer on National Day Beer Day — which also happened to be the first game of the year — it was always going to be difficult for any other moment of the season to trump it. The D-backs’ Opening-Day walk-off win was a fairytale turned reality.
The D-backs went on to lose the next three games of the meetup with San Diego. In retrospect, that opening series was a fitting tone-setter for a year that had a lot of memorable moments, despite where the D-backs landed in the standings.
There is no doubting that the team’s youth movement caught some eyes in 2022, but general manager Mike Hazen knows the D-backs still have a long way to go.
“I’m tired of being the young team,” he said. “I’m ready to be the winning team.
“We need to translate tools and excitement and the ability to take over games on a once-every-two-week basis and turn that into doing it every other day.”
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