The Arizona Diamondbacks enter 2018 after a 93 win campaign and an NLDS loss to the NL Champion Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017. The DBacks added 24 wins from their 2016 total of 69, the second most in the MLB (Twins, 59 to 85). 2018 most likely will not see them win 117 games but Arizona could be a threat in the NL again. The potential loss of JD Martinez’ bat obviously hurts a ton as he could be an elite bat, potential Silver Slugger, and get MVP votes. If JD decides to stick around in Arizona, that’s a scary lineup.
Alex Avila, C
Brad Boxberger, RP
JD Martinez, OF (Hasn’t signed yet)
Chris Iannetta, C
Fernando Rodney, CP
Why they can win: This is a really good team that had good depth in the lineup and rotation and has the 2017 Manager of the Year in Torey Lovullo. With Greinke and Ray proving to be a solid 1-2 punch, quality starts between Corbin, Godley and Walker could form a nice 5 man rotation. Their lineup features elite power at the corners in Lamb and Goldschmidt (and maybe JD), and if Pollock, Peralta and Tomas can stay healthy they have a chance to be very effective. The DBacks also added relief pitching in Brad Boxberger, Yoshihisa Hirano from Japan, and Albert Suarez in the Rule 5 draft and will probably move elite reliever Archie Bradley to the Closing role.
Why they can lose: If Paul Goldschmidt, an MVP candidate, or Zack Greinke, A Cy Yound candidate, get hurt for any extended period of time, they could find themselves in trouble. They got really good seasons from Godley and Ray which could be hard to duplicate. They can lose games because the NL West has the reigning divisional champion Dodgers, the 87 win Rockies and much improved Giants. Finally, they also finished 2017 26th in fielding, which could haunt them in 2018 if they don’t improve.
Bottom Line: They have a tough division but can realistically make a run at a Wildcard spot and maybe a chance at a divisional title. Without JD Martinez, they’re good enough for playoffs but seem to be missing a little bit to make that leap to an elite team. With JD, they could, possibly, give the Dodgers a run for their money late in the season if all goes well and have a scary heart of the order come playoff time.
Major4 Numbers Game:
Stud: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
Goldy does EVERYTHING! He’s a darling of analytics dorks (10th in exit velo: 92.0 MPH), fantasy bros (36 HR, 18 SB at 1B), and baseball traditionalists (.299 career avg, 3 gold gloves). You literally cannot poke a hole in this guys game. One of the true 5-tool players, it’s actually silly.
Sinkhole: Shelby Miller, SP
The back-end of the rotation has been a sore-spot for a couple seasons now. With the exception of surprise Zach Godley (more on him below), it has made them a team that could slip back in their division and NL-Wildcard race. I get this may be cherry picking because Miller has ran into injury problems. But I can’t get past the trade with Atlanta, as Ender Inciarte and Swanson have better current and future production since this trade. Hopefully Miller gets healthy, but he has flat out stunk since his move to the Snakes (5-15 WL record, and escalating BB/9 rate). He can’t find the zone with enough to be an MLB starter at this juncture.
Regression Candidate: Zach Godley, SP
Zach Godley had a tremendous first full season in the MLB. He had decent K-BB% (17.9%) and solid 55.5% groundball rate, but his .280 BABIP seems a bit low. He is a pitcher who is built to live down in the zone, but due to below average velo, when his sinker and curve get flat he gets raked to a .600 slugging percent in the middle-tier of the zone (Brooks Baseball). Hot take: he finishes the year with a 4.00+ era.
Impact Acquisition: Alex Avila, C
Wow, did not think I would ever write Alex Avila as an impact acquisition… Still struggling here, but the guy flat out hammered baseballs. Here are the names of catchers who had a higher exit velo than Avila (90.9 MPH): Gary Sanchez. Yeah that’s it. He is a perfect platoon partner with the defensive wizard Jeff Mathis behind the plate and can give them quality at-bats off the bench. His 134 wRC+ (fangraphs) against Righties is elite, particularly for position.
Major4 Prospects, (Top 100):
Pavin Smith, 1B (63)
Jon Duplantier, RHP (96)
Taylor Clarke, RHP
Anthony Banda, LHP
Why we love them: They have a hilariously strange mascot but I guess having a snake with no limbs wearing a jersey would be a difficult task for marketing. Also love the pool in Centerfield, Zack Godley’s glorious goatee and the most underrated player in the MLB, Paul Goldschmidt. Let’s party like it’s 2001, Arizona.