2019 Team Preview #17: Arizona Diamondbacks
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On to the preview!
2018 Record: 75-87, 5th Place NL West, 14 Games Back.
2018 marked a real turning of the corner for the Diamondbacks and their fans. The Valley of the Sun saw a whopping 22 game improvement from their 109-loss 2017 campaign. This offseason brought further development and one headlining acquisition – will it pay off in a division title run?
RP Stetson Allie (CHW via Rule 5)
SP Shohei Ohtani (Int’l FA)
LF Shohei Ohtani (Int’l FA)
RP Ricardo Cortez (FA)
C Dwight Childs (LAA via Rule 5)
CF Matt Szczur (STL via Rule 5)
2B Brandon Phillips (FA)
The Diamondbacks didn’t generate a lot of offensive excitement in 2018, they were 14th in the NL in runs scored, and had a team OBP of just .303. The main bright spot over the last 2 years is 1B Rich Dixon (31 HR, 88 RBI). He’ll be in the heart of the order and joined by stellar young CF Daz Cameron (14 HR in 105 G). RF Bobby Stone (19 HR), LF Brent Bowman (.260) will share time with standout Japanese import (and SP) Shohei Ohtani. Behind the plate, 23-year-old Matt Hanson (.372 in 122 PA) is expected to grab the starting job and joining Dixon in the infield will be 2B Alfredo Zavala (.258 Avg), SS Levi Michael (40 2B) and 3B Artuto Velazquez (.289 Avg)
While the offense underwhelmed in 2018, the pitching was both young and solidly average, not bad for a team on the rise. 27-year-old Ace Scott Clark (12-11, 2.37 ERA) is as good as anyone has and will be followed by a combination of Andrew Morales (7.5 K/9), Bull Hauck (10-9, 3.42 ERA), Michael Wacha (7.5 K/9), William Maddox (4.06 ERA in 10 GS) and the aforementioned Ohtani. The pen certainly has some question marks, starting with the closing duo of Isaac Sanchez (12 Sv, 2.94 ERA) and Tyler Green (11 Sv, 10 K/9). The middle innings will be handled by Erik Cordier (2.06 ERA, 17 Hld), Robert Carson (3.40 ERA) and FA pickup Ricardo Cortez (12-1 in High-A). The long man will be either the loser of the rotation battle or 2nd year man Zach Rivera (4.65 ERA)
The Diamondbacks might be the most promising team for the future in the entire National League. Young potential stars are abound, they got likely the biggest “get” of the off-season and other than a few relievers, likely won’t have anyone of note who is in their 30s.
They’re not quite there yet though. While they’ll get out of the cellar for the first time since 2014, they aren’t quite on par with the top end of the division. Given they won a bit over their heads last year I think .500 is a great goal for them in 2019, and I think they’ll get it at 81-81 in 4th place in the West.