This is one of a series of posts in which I will be breaking down every team in baseball. I am by no means a credible source—merely a casual fan who knows a little about baseball and would like to share my observations.
Today we look at the Diamondbacks, a team crippled by so many injuries last year they ended up with the worst record in the Major Leagues. But we all know they’re better than that, right?
Projected Lineup: CF A.J. Pollock, SS Chris Owings, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, RF Mark Trumbo, LF Yasmany Tomas*, 2B Aaron Hill, 3B Jake Lamb, C Tuffy Gosewisch
Projected Rotation: RHP Jeremy Hellickson*, RHP Josh Collmenter, RHP Rubby De La Rosa*, RHP Trevor Cahill, LHP Robbie Ray*
* new additions
The D’backs went to Australia to play the inaugural series of 2014, and it was all downhill from there.
Can we blame last season on jet lag? Maybe there was a baby crying on the flight back from Australia, and none of them got enough sleep?
Whatever the cause of their season-long hangover, it’s in the past. Today, we focus on the present, and where the team stands as we approach the coming season. A season which, quite thankfully for the D’backs, begins in the desert on their home turf.
New general manager Dave Stewart wasted no time in taking his team in a new direction. With a few swift trades this winter, he bolstered the rotation by adding Jeremy Hellickson, Robbie Ray, Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster. Don’t bother going and looking up any of those names—none of them have any real upside. But the idea, presumably, was to add so many mediocre pitchers that at least one of them has to work out.
Once that happens, the D’backs simply have to wait for Patrick Corbin to come back from Tommy John surgery, and they’ll have a pretty formidable rotation.
The offense is centered around Paul Goldschmidt, who missed two months with a broken hand last year, but should be ready to continue his reign of terror on National League pitchers.
The problem is that he doesn’t have a supporting cast. The D’backs had a horrible on-base drought last year; Goldy was the only hitter with an on-base percentage above .330 (minimum 300 plate appearances). If no one before or after Goldy in the lineup can even get on base, you’re not going to score many runs.
Here’s what’s supposed to happen: A.J. Pollock sets the table. Goldy does his thing. Power-hitting Mark Trumbo protects Goldy in the lineup.
But last season, Pollock broke a hand and missed half the season, and Trumbo had a forgettable year in which he was hindered a lot by a foot injury. With those two guys back presumably for full seasons, the D’backs will take a mulligan on last year. And they should have better results, so long as they can get out of the way of those inside pitches.
The D’backs were also the winners of the “Next Cuban Sensation Whose Name Begins with Y” sweepstakes. Yasmany Tomas, who has huge promise because his name also ends with a Y, will bat in the middle of the lineup and play third base as well as some outfield. Tomas supposedly has massive power, so he may also help serve as protection for Goldschmidt. We don’t know much else about him, but one thing’s for sure: he will hit dingers.
There’s also a lot of buzz around camp right now about Jake Lamb. Like Tomas, he is a third baseman, and one of the organization’s top prospects. This gives the D’backs somewhat of a position battle, since to the best of my knowledge, a team is not allowed to field two third basemen. Tomas is the exciting Cuban slugger, and although Lamb isn’t Cuban (and therefore isn’t exciting), he has posted some solid numbers through three years in the minors, including a .321/.406/.553 career slash line.
Count on whoever loses this battle to still see significant playing time. Maybe in left field, maybe around the infield, but they’ll be worked in somewhere. They’re both too good to be left sitting on the bench.
With a much deeper lineup, and a rotation of the “eh not terrible” variety, the D’backs can count on something better than a last-place finish.
Projected Finish: 75-87, Fourth place in NL West