Paul Goldschmidt. Image Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

2014 MLB Team Previews: Arizona Diamondbacks


Arizona Diamondbacks

2013 Record: 81-81 (2nd in NL West)

2013 in Review

The Diamondbacks were thoroughly average in 2013. They were near the middle of the pack in both runs scored (14th) and runs allowed (17th). As a result, the Diamondbacks finished 81-81, which was about as average as you can get.

The offense was powered by first baseman Paul Goldschmidt who has emerged as one of the best hitters in the game. His 36 home runs, 125 RBI, and 6.4 fWAR were tops among National League first basemen. Four other Diamondbacks had double digit homers, although nobody else on the team hit more than 14. The team’s total of 130 homers ranked near the bottom of the league.

The Diamondback’s pitching staff was similarly unremarkable. Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley were a solid combo at the top of the rotation, although neither one was exactly in the discussion for the Cy Young Award. The biggest disappointment might have been Ian Kennedy. In 2011, he looked like he was an emerging star. But his performance dropped so much that the Diamondbacks traded him to the Padres midway through the season.

Basically, the Diamondbacks had a roster of decent players, but aside from Goldschmidt, there weren’t too many top-level stars. Apparently, a roster full of decent players leaves a team with a decent record.

2014 Preview

Key Transactions

  • Agreed to terms with OF Mark Trumbo on a one-year contract.
  • Agreed to terms with RHP Bronson Arroyo on a two-year contract.
  • Acquired RHP Addison Reed from the Chicago White Sox for INF Matt Davidson.

Offense

Mark Trumbo. Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Goldschmidt has already proven to be a star, and he might be even better in 2014. But as the team learned last year, he can’t do it alone.

Realizing they needed to add power, the D’Backs traded for Mark Trumbo in the offseason. Trumbo might have some deficiencies, but his ability to hit over 30 home runs will be a welcome addition.

I’m not sure how much upside there is in the remainder of the lineup.  Second baseman Aaron Hill can hit well when healthy, but staying healthy hasn’t proven easy for him in recent years. A.J. Pollock is expected to win the center field job, and his speed, combined with strong on-base skills could make him an asset. And Martin Prado has an above average bat that can fill in at several positions.

Gerardo Parra, Didi Gregorius, and Miguel Montero may all be excellent defensive players, but they can’t be counted on to supply much offense.

Basically, if the Diamondbacks are going to score many runs in 2014, someone is going to have to improve drastically, or else Goldschmidt and Trumbo will have to carry the load.

Projected Lineup

  1. Parra -RF
  2. Hill – 2B
  3. Goldschmidt – 1B
  4. Montero – C
  5. Trumbo – LF
  6. Prado – 3B
  7. Pollack – CF
  8. Gregorius – SS

Defense

The Diamondbacks may not be prolific offensively, but at least they won’t cost themselves too many runs on defense. Goldschmidt and Parra both won gold gloves in 2013, and a couple other players should merit consideration as well.

Pitching

Patrick Corbin. Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

At only 23 years of age, Patrick Corbin took a huge step forward last season. He went 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA, and made the National League All-Star team. If he can continue to improve, the D’Backs might have a legitimate ace on their hands.

In his second season, Wade Miley wasn’t as good as in 2012 when he was runner-up for the Rookie of the Year award, but he does look like he could be a rotation mainstay.

After them, the rotation doesn’t appear to be anything special. Free agent signee Bronson Arroyo is consistent enough, but won’t provide too many dominating outings.  Trevor Cahill has been nothing more than adequate the past few years, and Brandon McCarthy would need to improve to even be considered adequate.

There are worse rotations out there, but there are also many that are better.

The team’s bullpen should be a strength. They traded for former White Sox closer Addison Reed in the offseason to replace the since traded Heath Bell. If Reed can match his performance from last year, it should be an upgrade. Setup duties will be handled by J.J. Putz who has proven very capable in that role in recent years. Other useful arms include Brad Ziegler and David Hernandez.

Projected Rotation

  1. Corbin
  2. Arroyo
  3. Miley
  4. Cahill
  5. McCarthy

Closer: Addison Reed

Best Case Scenario

The addition of Trumbo helps the offense, and the Diamondbacks’ pitching duo of Corbin and Miley continues to improve. The other starters hold their own, which proves to be enough with the backing of a strong defense and bullpen. The D’Backs capture a wild card.

Worst Case Scenario

Even with the addition of Trumbo, the Diamondbacks offense doesn’t improve much upon their 2013 numbers. Adding an average pitcher like Bronson Arroyo to an average rotation leaves it merely average. The result is another record right around .500.

Projection

I had a lot of trouble deciding how to place the second through fourth place teams in the West, as all of them seem to have some volatility. The Diamondbacks may not be a star-laden team, but they have made some improvements, which should allow them to maintain their second place standing in the division.

Prediction: 2nd Place

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