We are heading into the second full week of the Major League Baseball season, and new names are starting to emerge. Every year there seems to be players that nobody saw coming, but tore it up on the diamond. That being said, now is as good of a time as ever to look at some names that could make a big impact in fantasy baseball in 2018.
(Second baseman, San Francisco Giants)
Joe Panik may have his best season in 2018. (Photo from McCovey Chronicles)
Joe Panik has already established himself as an everyday second baseman in San Francisco. The 27-year-old has played in over 100 games in three straight seasons, but may have his most complete campaign in 2018.
Panik has already racked up four multi-hit games this season, and has knocked three balls out of the park. He has never been known for his power, but with this new generation we are in, he could possibly hit over 20 home runs this season.
The draw with Panik though is he looks like he could hit over .300 this year, which is a huge plus for roto leagues. Panik is also still only owned in 64 percent of ESPN leagues, so it is best to take advantage of the slight availability he his left.
(Third baseman, Miami Marlins)
Anderson is ready to prove himself in Miami. (Photo from Zimbio)
Anderson is owned in just 29 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues at the moment, but almost all of those teams have picked him up in the last couple of days. Much of this is probably due to Jake Lamb’s absence in Arizona, as Anderson has been a great replacement while Lamb has been out.
Martin Prado is due back for the Marlins within the next couple of weeks, so that could possibly put Anderson’s playing time in jeopardy. However, like Panik, Anderson has the ability to rack up the hits. With the offensive struggles the Marlins are expected to have this year, there would not be much of a reason for Don Mattingly to keep Anderson out of the lineup.
Part of the attraction surrounding Anderson is his hit streak through the first seven games of the season. That streak is over now, but Anderson is a good eye to keep out for in case there is room in the third base or 1B/3B spot.
(Outfielder, Atlanta Braves)
Preston Tucker’s ownership in ESPN fantasy leagues has gone from one percent to 45 in the last week. He is currently the hottest player that may still be on the free agent market, so now is the time to go and get him.
Atlanta has Tucker in a pretty good spot in the middle of the lineup, making him a good candidate to rack up the RBIs. Atlanta is currently hot at the moment too. Although they will not be able to keep it up, don’t discount the Braves and the firepower they may be able to produce.
Tucker is in a solid lineup and is in a good situation to succeed. Now may be a good opportunity to snag him while he is still readily available.
(Starting pitcher, Oakland Athletics)
Manaea is the best free agent pickup available right now. (Photo from Beyond the Box Score)
Sean Manaea is one of the hot young names coming up through the starting pitcher ranks. In two starts this season, the 26-year-old has gone into the eighth inning both times and has given up seven hits and just two runs.
Strikeouts are obviously extremely valuable in head-to-head point leagues, but for head-to-head by category or roto, he could prove to be a very valuable piece on any fantasy roster.
The only concern for the young starter is the teams he will be facing. Being in the American League West, the Athletics will be facing some very high-powered offenses. Manaea has made both of his starts against AL West teams, but it will be vital for him to keep up that performance against more of the high-powered teams once they come around.
Either way, Manaea should be a pitcher that is readily available and could be used throughout any fantasy rotation.
(Third baseman, San Diego Padres)
Villanueva is another smaller name that broke out for three home runs, much like Matt Davidson. Villanueva may not have the consistent power all year long, but it is at least worthy to watch if any room is available at the third base position.
Villanueva is only 26 years old and is starting to see consistent MLB time for the first time in his career. He is certainly someone who can make an impact on the Padres’ roster, so he may be able to do the same for a fantasy team as well.
What the young third baseman has been able to do in the minors is rack up the RBIs, so that is certainly something he showed in his three home run performance.
Although he still has much to prove in the big leagues, he could certainly come up clutch in the fantasy world.
Featured image from MyAJC.com
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After three straight seasons of below .500 baseball, the Arizona Diamondbacks welcomed in Torey Luvullo, who, after coaching Arizona to a 93-win season, went on to win 2017 Manager of the Year. Besides for a tough July, in which the club went 10-14, Arizona had a winning record in every other month.
They also played well against their division rivals. When matched up against the NL Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona went 11-8. Against the Rockies/Padres/Giants, the Diamondbacks went a combined 34-23.
Paul Goldschmidt finished third in NL MVP voting (The Denver Post)
The big reason for their regular season success was their pitching. In 2016, among the 15 NL teams, Arizona ranked 13th in home runs issued, 14th in walks, and dead-last in ERA, and hits allowed. A year later, with some new arms in the mix, the Diamondbacks ranked second in the NL in ERA and strikeouts, fourth in hits, and allowed the fewest home runs in the league.
Guys like Zack Greinke (17-7 3.20 ERA) and Robbie Ray (15-5 2.89 ERA) stepped up big, but the experiment to use Archie Bradley as a full-time reliever seemed to work out just fine. In his age-24 season, Bradley appeared in 63 games and posted a 1.73 ERA with 79 punch-outs in 73 innings of work. As many remember, in the NL Wild Card Game, Bradley smacked a 2-run RBI triple off of Pat Neshek. He became the first relief pitcher in MLB history to triple in a postseason game.
Offensively, the Diamondbacks were led by, to no surprise, Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt finished third in NL MVP voting after slashing .297/.404/.563 with 36 home runs and 120 RBIs. 2017 was Goldy’s third-straight season with at least 155 games played.
PLAYERS, SINCE 2007, WHO HIT AT LEAST 35 HR, .295 BA, .400 OBP, AND STOLE 15 OR MORE BASES
JD Martinez, who came over from Detroit in a July trade, hit .302 with 29 home runs and 65 RBIs in his 62 games with Arizona. In a September game against the Dodgers, Martinez hit four home runs and became the first player in the modern era to hit a home run in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings of the same game. Not too shabby.
2018: Around the Diamond
JD Martinez is now with Boston, but, to replace his power, Arizona traded for Steven Souza. Souza hit 30 home runs last year for Tampa Bay but will begin the season on the 10-day DL with a right pectoral strain. He is expected to come back in the middle of May. In the Souza trade, Arizona lost Brandon Drury, who led the team with 37 doubles in 2017.
With Souza down for the start of the season, Arizona has a vacancy in left field. David Peralta will start in right, while AJ Pollock will remain in center. Because of injuries, Pollock played in just 112 games last season, but was one of three players to hit at least 10 home runs, 30 doubles, .330 OBP, .470 SLG, and steal 20 bases (Jose Altuve, Elvis Andrus).
If Pollock can stay on the field, he is one of the best CF’s in the game (Sporting News)
Left field will be a battle between Yasmany Tomas, who has a .370 OBP this Spring, speedster Jarrod Dyson, and utility man Chris Owings. The most likely scenario is Dyson playing against righties, and either Tomas or Owings getting the start when Arizona faces a left-handed pitcher.
In January, Arizona signed Alex Avila, the former All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner, who will split time with Jeff Mathis behind the dish. No more Drury means Ketel Marte will get the chance to be a full-time starter at second. Marte is hitting .436 in 39 Spring at-bats.
Him moving over to second means Massachusetts native, Nick Ahmed, will start the season out as the everyday shortstop. Ahmed isn’t great offensively, a lifetime .226 hitter, but he’s a terrific defender. Look for Owings and Daniel Descalso to earn some playing time as well.
The corner infield spots will, again, be manned by Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb. Goldy and Lamb were two of the 12 players last year who posted a .350 OBP, or better, with 30 doubles and 30 home runs (Votto, Blackmon, Rizzo, Stanton, Ozuna, Arenado, Upton, Dozier, Zimmerman, Abreu). We all know Goldschmidt is great, but get familiar with Jake Lamb. Lamb walks a ton and drives in plenty of runs for the D-Backs.
On the Bump
Zack Greinke, the clubs ace, will not start Opening Day after feeling tightness in his right groin during a March 14 start. On Monday night, Greinke allowed just one hit over six innings of work, which was a great sign for the Diamondbacks. He is expected to make his regular-season debut on Saturday.
Patrick Corbin, who went 14-13 with a 4.03 ERA last season, will start Thursday against the Rockies. Robbie Ray, who finished second in K/9, third in H/9, and fifth in ERA, will throw Game 2. The last two spots in the rotation will belong to Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley. In 28 starts last season, Walker posted a 3.49 ERA and could break out in 2018 as a top of the rotation starter. Godley made 25 starts last year and posted a superb 3.37 ERA in his 155 innings of work. Godley has flourished in the minors and will be a terrific number five starter in his age-28 season.
Greinke aims to make his regular-season debut on Saturday (Sporting News)
To replace Fernando Rodney, Arizona traded for Brad Boxberger. In 2015, Boxberger led the AL in saves with the Rays. Bradley will continue to pitch at any point needed, while Japanese RHP Yoshihisa Hirano could be a seventh or eighth inning guy. Hirano, as a member of the Orix Buffaloes, posted a 1.92 ERA in 2016, and a 2.67 ERA a year later. Arizona also has Jorge De La Rosa and Fernando Salas to call on.
Arizona has two members in the latter half of MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect’s list. Jon Duplantier (No. 73), Arizona’s top pitching prospect, was absolutely terrific in 2017. Between A/A+, Duplantier went 12-3 with a 1.39 ERA, and 165 K’s in just 136 innings. He has an excellent fastball and good enough off-speed stuff that he can throw for strikes and get outs. We will see how he fares as he moves up the levels, but all is good at the moment.
Arizona’s first-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Pavin Smith (No. 91), is already one of the top first base prospects in the game. During his junior year at Virginia, Smith walked three times more than he struck out. In the Northwest League, Smith walked 27 times compared to just 24 strikeouts. He also slashed .318/.401/.415 with 17 XBH in 15 games. He could be the future at first base if Goldschmidt, who has a team option in 2019 and will be a free agent the following year, parts ways with Arizona.
2018 Prediction: 85-77
The starting rotation is very good, and I like the additions to the back-end of the bullpen. If everyone can stay healthy, and Souza can bring some pop when he returns from his injury, Arizona should earn a playoff spot for the second year in a row.
Featured image by MLB.com
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There’s a new bat poised to take Major League Baseball by storm. The Axe Bat, developed by Baden Sports, is proof that what’s old can become new again. If you aren’t familiar, the latest development in hitting technology is the Axe-handled baseball bat.
A lineup of Victus’ Axe-handle bats before being shipped to Miami Marlins slugger, Giancarlo Stanton. (Photo courtesy of: whatproswear.com)
The early results by those that have swung them competitively at the game’s top level are remarkable. Axe Bat’s Director of Communications, Matt Peterson, spoke about this revolutionary new bat design in greater detail.
In 2017, at least 35 different big-leaguers swung the Axe-handled bat. Peterson said that together, those players totaled nearly 4,800 plate appearances and more than 1,100 hits.
All time, at least 57 players have used an Axe-handled bat during an official MLB game. It’s this type of growth that is turning more and more hitters onto this innovative design.
It also doesn’t hurt when you compare the hitting lines of those using it, to those still using traditional round-knobbed bats. Over the past two seasons, players swinging the Axe-handled bat design hit a collective slash line of (.273/.463/.805). In comparison, hitters using the traditional round-knobbed bat design put together a collective (.255/.422/.745).
The early returns on performance seem to be paying huge dividends for players who decide to incorporate this new tool into their game. Take San Diego Padres rookie center fielder Manny Margot for instance. He converted to the Axe-handled bat for the majority of the season’s second half in 2017.
“The week he switched, he won the NL
San Diego rookie, Manny Margot, before he started realizing the benefits of the Axe-handled bat. (Photo courtesy of: Sporting News)
Player of the Week award,” Peterson said.
What a week it was for the young rookie with stars in his eyes too. Margot slapped Mets and Pirates pitching around the park all week (July 30), going 12-24 at the dish. But wait, there’s more to it than that.
In the first half of 2017 from Opening Day to July 23, before Margot switched bats, he hit (.258/.373/.677) with five homers and nine doubles in 281 plate appearances. After the switch to an Axe-handled bat, however, the difference is amazing.
From July 24 through the final game of the season, the young Margot posted a much improved (.269/.449/.772) over 248 plate appearances. During the final few months of the season, Margot matched his first half output in doubles with nine and hit eight home runs. If you’re keeping score, that’s three more homers in 33 fewer plate appearances. Margot loves hitting with the Axe-handled design it would appear.
Margot isn’t the only Padres youngster swinging an Axe-handled bat though.
“His teammate, Allen Cordoba, another rookie, also swung the bat most of this season,” Peterson said.
Established Professional Hitters
The rookies, however, aren’t the only players in MLB that have had their head turned by the Axe Bat. Established pro hitters are also getting in on the action as well.
Several of this year’s hitters in MLB’s postseason are among those switching from the classic round-knobbed handle to the Axe-handle. In 2017’s playoff field, George Springer, Jake Lamb, David Peralta, Chris Owings, Lonnie Chisenhall, Greg Allen and Mookie Betts all swung the Axe Bat 100 percent of the time in 2017 Peterson said.
Dustin Pedrioa steps into the batter’s box brandishing his Axe-handle bat. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
There were also several other players on the rosters of playoff teams who used the Axe-handled bat in 2017.
“Other players on playoff teams who used it in a significant number of at-bats included Dustin Pedroia, Joc Pederson and Matt Wieters,” Peterson said.
Growth within the game is happening rapidly as more players are encountering the Axe Bat.
“Several others experimented with it for a handful of at-bats this year and might be candidates for Spring Training 2018,” Peterson said.
“We anticipate the growth trend to continue as Axe-handled bats become more available, as more performance benefits of the handle are confirmed,” Peterson said. “And we begin showing players some of the new designs and customization options that will soon be available to them.”
One significant performance benefit of an Axe-handled bat is an increase in bat speed. It has been studied by Baseball Prospectus. They confirmed that Axe Bat’s claim to improve bat speed does, in fact, hold water.
There’s a good reason many fans haven’t realized this bat has found its way into several big leaguer’s hands. That reason is licensing.
Axe Bat’s patented Axe-handle technology has been licensed to Major League Baseball’s approved wood bat makers. The first of these companies to purchase the right to use the Axe-handled design is Victus Sports.
“That’s why you see Victus’ logo on the barrel of Axe-handled bats.” Peterson said. “Victus Sports was our first licensee. They make a great bat and were instrumental in getting the Axe-handle in players’ hands around the league.”
As more players realize the benefits of this revolutionary bat handle design, more bat makers are sure to be purchasing the rights to make this bat for their customers. Couple this with high profile players like Dustin Pedrioa and Mookie Betts, and swinging an Axe-handled bat and it is sure to find its way into other players’ hands too.
Baseball players are some of the most superstitious people in the universe. One solid hit during a slump and a player can get hooked forever. As more research is done (like the study by Baseball Prospectus) on the Axe Bat, more players are sure to start incorporating it into their game.
Since the moment it was created, Axe-handle design has seen significant growth in MLB. The idea for the Axe Bat was conceptualized in 2009 by Bruce Leinert. As a result, by 2017 there were already 35 players who tested it in live competition. Some, like Mookie Betts, have even made it their primary bat. That’s darn impressive growth in the span of eight years.
From a fan’s perspective, is will be interesting to see what impact this bat will have on the game. It’ll be interesting to see the statistical comparison between both Axe and traditional bat designs going forward, especially as more players incorporate the Axe-handle bat into their game.
This should make for some fascinating conversations in the future, no doubts about it!
(Feature image: Sports Illustrated)
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From Eddie Mathews to Ron Santo, from Mike Schmidt to Wade Boggs, from Chipper Jones to Adrian Beltre; the hot corner has remained a staple of power and production for centuries. Third basemen made up ten of the top 50 fantasy hitters in 2016, including the 2015 AL and 2016 NL MVP’s. With so many options to choose from, third base is one of, if not, the deepest position in fantasy baseball.
The top 30 third basemen have been grouped into six tiers, with the top and bottom player of each tier profiled below.
Honorable mentions include: Brandon Drury (ARI), Yulieski Gurriel (HOU), Jose Reyes (NYM), Jedd Gyorko (STL), Ryan Schimpf (SD), Hernan Perez (MIL), Matt Duffy (TB), and Johnny Peralta (STL).
Can Kris Bryant be the first to win back to back MVP’s since Miguel Cabrera? (Courtesy of Chicagostylesports.com)
1. Kris Bryant CHC
2. Nolan Arenado COL
3. Josh Donaldson TOR
4. Manny Machado BAL
The reigning NL MVP, Kris Bryant, should be the first third basemen taken in 2017. Bryant was called up in 2015 after mashing 43 home runs at the AA and AAA levels. The minor-league player of the year impressed immediately in the majors, as he hit 26 home runs and drove in 99 RBI’s, resulting in him winning the Rookie of the Year.
The 24-year-old crushed 39 bombs with over 100 runs and RBI’s, which is easily repeatable for many years to come.
Two main reasons why Bryant lands atop this list is because of his steal upside and the lineup in which he plays in. Bryant is athletic for his 6-foot-5 230-pound stature. He stole 13 bases in 2015, and eight in 2016, which gives him a good floor of steals compared to Arenado, Donaldson, and Machado, who combined for nine.
Also, batting ahead of Anthony Rizzo and other elite hitters in the Chicago Cubs offense will give Bryant a great chance to, once again, lead the league in runs. These two factors will help propel him ahead of the other elite third base options.
Manny Machado has all of the potential in the world. After having back to back 35 plus home run and 100 run seasons, he remains in the elite category of third basemen.
Machado has batted primarily third in 2016, and still failed to reach the 100 RBI plateau, which is unnerving, as he is set to primarily bat second in 2017. Don’t get me wrong, Machado still has elite value in the two hole, as he will bat around .300, while being a great source of runs, but if you’re looking for 100 RBI’s, Machado may fall short once again.
Machado also failed to steal a base in 2016, after stealing 20 bags in 2015. This may have been a way to limit the stress on his surgically repaired knee, or may have been due to the fact that the Baltimore Orioles were last in stolen base attempts per game, with .2.
The lack of stolen bases and RBI’s compared to Bryant, Donaldson, and Arenado forces me place Machado at the bottom of tier 1.
Will 2017 be a breakout season for veteran Kyle Seager? (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
5. Kyle Seager SEA
6. Jonathon Villar MIL
7. Adrian Beltre TEX
8. Matt Carpenter STL
9. Todd Frazier CWS
10. Evan Longoria TB
11. Anthony Rendon WAS
12. Justin Turner LAD
Kyle Seager has been a consistent source of 160 hits, .270 average, and 24 home runs per season, but 2017 will be the year he breaks out.
Seager will bat behind Jean Segura, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz, which will give him a great chance to finally surpass the 100 RBI mark.
The 29-year-old’s isolated power numbers have jumped from .185 to .221, showing that he has the potential to increase his power numbers as he continues through his prime years.
According to fantasypros.com, he is being selected as the 59th player off the board, and the 6th third basemen. Although Seager’s value does warrant a pick at this position, there are many other third basemen that offer similar value at a much lesser cost.
Justin Turner exploded onto the scene in 2016, having a career year, batting .275 with 27 home runs, 79 runs, and 90 RBI’s. The 32-year-old inked a 4-year, $64 million deal, that will lock him in as the everyday third basemen and three-hitter of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the near and distant and future.
Turner provides a great floor of value, as he has a career batting average of .282, while managing to have respectable strikeout and walk rates. I believe Turner is more than likely to repeat his power numbers, and could be a sneaky source of 100 RBI’s come 2017.
Can Jake Lamb recover from his atrocious second half n 2016? (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
13. Jake Lamb ARI
14. Maikel Franco PHI
15. Alex Bregman HOU
16. Jose Ramirez CLE
Jake Lamb is currently being severally overlooked, as he is being selected as the 19th third basemen, and 165th overall player in drafts.
Lamb finished 2016 with a .249 batting average, 29 home runs, and 91 RBI’s. This stat line may seem underwhelming, but Lambs first half of .291, 20 home runs, and 61 RBI’s suggests that there is elite potential here.
The 26-year-old will join a healthy Arizona Diamondbacks lineup that includes A.J. Pollock, Paul Goldschmidt, and David Peralta, which will give him the opportunity to repeat or surpass his career high RBI total. Lamb will end up on the majority of my teams in 2017, as his ADP is much too low for his potential.
The sneaky top 20 MVP candidate in 2016, Jose Ramirez, will be another cheap source of production at third base in 2017. Ramirez is being selected as the 14th third basemen, which I believe is fairly high, although his ADP of 124 gives him significant value.
The 24-year-old will bat in the middle of the Cleveland Indians lineup, and depending on Michael Brantley’s health, may be behind Edwin Encarnacion, Francisco Lindor, and Jason Kipnis, which will give him an incredible opportunity to drive in runs.
Ramirez, a career .275 hitter, is continuously improving, as he batted .312 with 11 home runs, 76 RBI’s, and 22 stolen bases in 2016. Investing in the young Indian will be highly beneficial come 2017.
Miguel Sano’s strikeout rate is a red flag heading into 2017. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
17. Miguel Sano MIN
18. Jung-Ho Kang PIT
19. Eduardo Nunez SFG
20. Ryon Healy OAK
21. Yangervis Solarte SD
Miguel Sano is currently being selected as the 128th player, and 15th third basemen in 2017. After hitting 18 home runs in 80 games in 2015, Sano increased his totals to 25 in 116 games in 2016. Miguel Sano’s power potential is juicy, although his 2016 strike out rate of 36% is a huge red flag.
Sano’s strikeout rates have continuously increased, which suggests that Sano may strikeout at an obnoxious rate again in 2017. Sano, who has already had a problem finding a position, may experience serious issues if his bat continues to struggle. I believe Sano is being drafted to high, as you can draft safer options in Maikel Franco or Jake Lamb later in drafts.
Yangervis Solarte is my sleeper of the year. The 29-year-old is primed for a breakout season, as he will have an everyday role for the first time in his career. He totaled 15 home runs and 71 RBI’s in just 109 games, which would have put him on pace for 22 home runs and 105 RBI’s.
Solarte will be the starting third basemen and cleanup hitter for the San Diego Padres in 2017. This will give him plenty of opportunity for RBI’s and runs, as this young Padres lineup could surprise people.
The ascension of young studs Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, and Manny Margot, can immensely improve the Friars underwhelming offense, which will positively impact Solarte’s stats.
His ADP of 319 makes him the 32nd third basemen taken off the board, which means he is currently going undrafted in majority of leagues. Solarte will make an incredible late round pick if you miss early on a third basemen.
Nick Castellanos’ fractured hand held him back in 2016, so will he improve in 2017? (Courtesy MLive.com)
22. Nick Castellanos DET
23. Mike Moustakas KAN
24. Adonis Garcia ATL
25. Eugenio Suarez CIN
26. Pablo Sandoval BOS
27. Travis Shaw MIL
28. Martin Prado MIA
29. Danny Valencia SEA
30. Yunel Escobar LAA
Nick Castellanos had his 2016 cut short due to a fractured left hand, although in 110 games, he managed to hit 18 home runs, while scoring 54 runs, and driving in 58 RBI’s. The Tigers six-hitter remains a solid source of runs and RBI’s while sporting a respectable career average of .265.
Castellanos is very safe option for later in the draft, and if he continues to progress, could be a top 15 third basemen. His current ADP of 239 makes his the 25th third basemen selected, which would be a price well worth paying.
Yunel Escobar has quietly been a solid fantasy producer his entire career, as he has a career batting average of .283, and has batted .314 and .304 in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Escobar hasn’t managed to play over 140 games since 2013, but if he can make that happen in 2017, he will be a great fantasy asset.
The 34-year-old will bat leadoff for the Mike Trout lead Los Angeles Angels. The talent behind him along with his great batting average gives him a chance to be an above average run scorer in 2017.
His ADP of 366 makes him the 37th third basemen being selected, which in my mind is astronomical. He will go undrafted in almost all leagues, although he offers great value in deeper leagues with large rosters.
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Despite being one of the most active teams this winter, the Arizona Diamondbacks are merely a fringe contender.
This offseason the D-backs spent $206.5 million on ace pitcher Zack Greinke, they acquired Shelby Miller via trade, giving up a huge haul, and they recently traded for starting shortstop Jean Segura.
Starting with the big splash, they gave Greinke a huge chunk of change to anchor the rotation. Greinke is coming off a phenomenal season and is undoubtedly one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball right now.
They followed this up with a bold move to acquire Miller to be Greinke’s partner in crime. This trade saw them give up Ender Inciarte who hit .303 in 524 at bats in 2015, along with the no. 8 and 56 prospects in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline in Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair.
Miller is a quality starter, but, that’s about it. His career xFIP is an unimpressive 4.08. While his 7.56 K/9 and 3.24 BB/9 career totals leave a lot to be desired as well.
He is an adequate no. 2 starter that they gave up an inordinate trade package for. He is certainly not a piece that makes them stand out in a division that included the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants.
The D-Backs rotation will be rounded out by Patrick Corbin and some combination of Archie Bradley, Rubby de la Rosa, and Robbie Ray in the last 2 spots.
Top prospect Bradley and recently back from Tommy John surgery Corbin represent the two highest upside guys, who could catapult the D-Backs into serious contenders. As it sits now though, they are too big of question marks to expect productive seasons from the both of them.
In de la Rosa and Ray they have two decent back of the rotation types, nothing more.
Overall the D-Backs rotation is nothing to scoff at, but, it’s also nothing that stands out to you either.
Onto the position players, the D-Backs are led by underappreciated super star Paul Goldschmidt and the 1st time All-Star from 2015 A.J. Pollock.
Occupying the corner outfield spots will be David Peralta and Yasmany Tomas. The former McDonald’s employee Peralta had a breakthrough campaign in 2015 posting a .893 OPS with 16 HR’s and 78 RBI’s.
Tomas on the other hand had a disappointing 2015 campaign after signing a huge deal out of Cuba. He posted a measly .707 OPS despite posting an unusually high BABIP of .354.
While Goldschmidt, Peralta, and Pollock form a respectable trio, it’s the rest of the lineup that leaves a lot to be desired.
Their two other highest upside players are Tomas and Segura. As previously mentioned, Tomas has the makings of a potential bust, while Segura has not been the same since his All-Star campaign in 2013.
The rest of their lineup is will be composed of below average Major Leaguers in Wellington Castillo, Jake Lamb, and Chris Owings.
While they have 3 potential All-Stars in their lineup it is asking too much for them to carry the rest of the mediocre at best lineup. Overall their lineup does not look like that of a playoff contender.
A slightly above average rotation and a mediocre lineup are not the only things that will keep the D-Backs out of the playoffs. Their most troubling areas are their bullpen and their overall lack of depth.
In Brad Ziegler they have a 36 year old closer who does not strike anyone out. Their other relievers are league average guys at best who will not scare opponents in the later innings.
Brandon Drury and Peter O’Brien are their only two bench options that look even somewhat appealing. Even they are not top prospects and they are young guys who still need to prove themselves.
In the no-DH National League the D-backs lack of depth will hurt them, and that’s not even considering potential injuries.
The D-Backs are a decent team, they will probably finish over .500, but they aren’t anything for the Dodgers, Giants, or the rest of the National League to worry about.