CHICAGO, September 21, 2013 — Yesterday’s columns looked at the seasons that the Padres and Phillies had, but today’s bids farewell and better luck next year to the ever-classy Arizona Diamondbacks.
What Went Right: Paul Goldschmidt broke out this year to the point where he is an MVP candidate. Goldschmidt has posted a .306/.407/.560 line so far and leads the league with a 163 OPS+. Even better for the Diamondbacks is they locked up Goldschmidt to a five-year, $32 million extension prior to this season. This contract is as friendly as Evan Longoria’s for the team and should allow them to put additional pieces around Goldschmidt.
The first month of the season, Justin Upton made Arizona appear to be foolish for trading him, but as the season wore on, Upton cooled off and Martin Prado showed his worth. Prado has posted a near league average 103 OPS+, but put up an excellent .323/.371/.489 slash line in the second half.
Aaron Hill battled injuries this year, but has proven to be an excellent acquisition for the Diamondbacks. Hill has put up a .293/.361/.476 line with a 128 OPS+ and if he can stay healthy should complement Goldschmidt well next year.
The Diamondbacks seem to have one pitcher break out per year as Ian Kennedy, Wade Miley and Daniel Hudson have done in the past. This year that pitcher was Patrick Corbin. He has logged 199 innings with a 121 ERA+ while striking out 20.6% of batters faced and walking just 6.1% of batters faced.
The Diamondbacks entered the season with the eighth ranked farm system according to Baseball America and were able to see the fruits of that as the team got contributions at the MLB level from Tyler Skaggs, Adam Eaton, Matt Davidson, Didi Gregorius, and AJ Pollock, all of whom were in the team’s top 10 prospects entering the year. Even better for the Diamondbacks is that the team still has Archie Bradley, who is likely to be a top five overall prospect next year, in the system.
What Went Wrong: Adam Eaton entered the year as a Rookie of the Year candidate, but suffered an elbow sprain and missed the first three months of the season. When on the field he has provided a .259/.325/.384 line with a 94 OPS+. The Diamondbacks need Eaton to stay healthy next year so they can pencil him in at the top of the lineup in front of Paul Goldschmidt.
Many questioned the Jason Kubel signing prior to the 2012 season and this year Kubel played well below his previous levels posting just a .220/.288/.324 line prior to being traded to the Indians.
Ian Kennedy was also a disappointment for the Diamondbacks prior to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Padres as he posted an ERA+ of 74 while logging 124 innings as his walk ratio ballooned to 11%.
Finally, there was Heath Bell. With JJ Putz battling elbow and finger injuries this year, manager Kirk Gibson opted to use Heath Bell as the closer. Bell has blown seven saves this year, but on the bright side, it is less than the eight last year. Even in successful saves, Heath Bell has caused fans to sweat it out. Much of Bell’s troubles stem from allowing 12 homeruns as 13.3%, almost twice the league average, of his fly balls allowed have left the yard.
What to Look for in 2014: The Diamondbacks should be contenders next year. They have the pitching, with Archie Bradley on the way, to contend. With a healthy Aaron Hill joining Paul Goldschmidt in the middle of the lineup the team should also score plenty of runs. With the Dodgers’ deep pockets, it may be difficult to win the NL West, but the Diamondbacks should use the Dodgers swimming in their pool as motivation to get better and contend for at least a Wild Card next year.
Free Agents/Options: Eric Chavez, Willie Bloomquist, Wil Nieves
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