Corbin Carroll’s stardom is everything Arizona Diamondbacks needed to rejuvenate franchise, fan base

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll is turning heads as a rookie. In his first full season, Corbin ranks in the top five of WAR (3.7) in Major League Baseball. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Rewinding to two years ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks sat at the bottom of Major League Baseball with the worst record to underscore a nightmare season. Last year brought hope as the team took a leap with 22 more wins. The most significant moment of the 2022 season, however, came packaged as a 22-year-old outfield prospect, standing at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds.

Corbin Carroll was productive from the moment he debuted on Aug. 29, producing well-above-average numbers to close out the season with a slash of .260/.500/.830 and an OPS+ of 133.

Despite his impressive start, his contributions had minimal impact on the team’s success. The Diamondbacks finished 74-88, largely due to a lack of good pitching and scoring. The team finished 23rd in team ERA (4.25) and 14th in runs scored per game (4.33).

This year is a different story. The Diamondbacks are 44-30 and hold first place in the NL West as a legitimate World Series contender. The team’s overall ERA is still not elite, ranking 21st in MLB (4.46), but the offense ranks fifth in the league in runs scored per game (5.18) after averaging 4.33 runs last year.

Ketel Marte, Christian Walker, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Geraldo Perdomo have produced solid starts to the season. The quartet has a combined batting average of .283, with the league average being .248. Meanwhile, Carroll is hitting .303 (9th in MLB).

Carroll’s latest achievement was winning the NL Player of the Week on June 12. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo had nothing but praise for Carroll’s mentality and work ethic shortly after the announcement.

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“His humbleness is one of the things we all love about him. He’s never satisfied. He’s always on the search to get better. He never wastes days,” Lovullo said. “He never wastes one day learning, growing and pushing forward.”

“It’s definitely cool,” Carroll said about winning the award. “But it’s also cool to play winning baseball. That’s, in my mind, the more important part.”

Carroll’s 3.7 WAR is tied for fourth place with Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres. Offensively, Carroll is ranked first among all of MLB. Carroll is also first in the NL in slugging percentage (.591), OPS (.975) and OPS+ (164). Additionally, DraftKings currently gives him the second-best odds to win the NL MVP (+500).

No one could have expected this level of production so soon. Carroll was drafted by the Diamondbacks 16th overall in the 2019 MLB Draft out of Lakeside High School in Seattle, Washington. He quickly ascended through the minor leagues with terrific speed, power, plate discipline and defense. In 142 minor league games, he accumulated a .310 batting average with 134 runs, 28 home runs, 87 RBI and 52 stolen bases. After playing seven games in 2021 due to a shoulder injury, he was called up before finishing his second full professional season.

Carroll has lived up to the hype. Every sports team needs star players, such as Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez of the 2022 World Series champion Houston Astros. But in Arizona, having a star like Carroll is what the franchise needs to not only win a title but to fill up Chase Field. The Diamondbacks have ranked 9th or worse in attendance for NL teams every full season since 2005. Chase Field can fit 48,519 fans, but in the last 15 years, it has never surpassed 31,000 fans per game for a full season. The attendance isn’t solely tied to the team’s success, since numbers were low even when the Diamondbacks made the playoffs.

Carroll’s incredible talent, flare and athletic ability make him marketable and has recently helped improve ticket sales. During the Diamondbacks’ first three homestands this season, the average attendance was 18,565, excluding an opening day sellout. In the team’s last two homestands, the average increased to 22,365. This year’s attendance has been the highest average for the team since before the pandemic. Last Thursday, 23,032 fans showed up for an afternoon game – the highest since the pandemic before Sunday’s announced attendance of 42,031 shattered the post-pandemic record set a few days prior.

The thousands of fans have showered Carroll with MVP chants in hopes Carroll can restore the glory days of the early 2000s, when Randy Johnson took home the World Series MVP trophy.

Shy Ghara shy garr-ah (he/him/his)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix