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2013 Team Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

The polarizing youth is gone and grit is all the rage.


Notable Numbers

-8.2: The number of runs added to the Diamondbacks via the stolen base, the second lowest mark in the majors. The D-Backs added a bunch of grit and have a handful of guys who can, in theory, run – Parra, Prado, and Pennington should all start, while Bloomquist and Campana provide wheels off the bench. But a year after being caught 51 times on the bases, it will be interesting to see if Kurt Gibson throws up the red light.

6.9%: This was Wade Miley’s HR/FB rate, the fourth lowest rate in the majors last year and a completely unsustainable number, especially at Chase Field. In 40 innings in 2011, Miley allowed homers on 15.4% of the fly balls he allowed. Where this rate eventually settles in (the league average was 11.3%) will be important, as Miley allows fly balls on roughly a third of his balls in play, a league average rate.

2012 Season in Review

Arizona finished 81-81, a perfectly acceptable mark but a big step backwards from their 94-win 2011 season. The bright spot was Aaron Hill hitting for the cycle twice and then somewhat of a playoff push that got a young-ish core some valuable experience. The downside was, of course, Justin Upton struggling and eventually leaving town. It wasn’t the worst of years, but the Diamondbacks will definitely be looking to improve on it for 2013.

Key Offseason Moves

See ya, Justin: Justin Upton is not-so-shockingly dealt, sent to Atlanta for a package centered around Martin Prado (with an extension) and prospects. Upton has the highest upside of any player in the trade, and while I personally don’t disagree with trading a potential superstar, there is a clear path to Arizona "winning" this trade if Prado plays well and one or two of the prospects hit.

See ya, Trevor: More shockingly, super-talented but enigmatic pitching prospect Trevor Bauer was dealt after just a cup of coffee in the majors. In return the ‘Backs got Didi Gregorius and Tony Sipp, fine players but players without nearly the upside of a Bauer. This one was a head-scratcher, but I’m a "Trevor Bauer Guy."

Extended Aaron Hill: Three years and $35M seems fair given Hill’s production, as he was a six-win player in 2012. He flashed the power that made him a breakout player in Toronto in 2009 while also improving his patience to a career-best level. The concern is that Hill had two previous three-plus-win seasons that were followed by difficult years due to injury and/or performance. Still, Hill only needs to be half of his 2012 self for this one to grade out as a fair deal.

Depth Chart: Most of the Braves' roles appear to be solidified, with Prado and Pennington stabilizing previously in-flux infield positions. In the outfield, injuries to Adam Eaton and Cody Ross have the opening-day line-up in flux, potentially forcing prospect A.J. Pollock into service a bit earlier than anticipated. When healthy, the only real question is where Gerrardo Parra gets his playing time, as his elite glove deserves. The rotation also appears to be settling in, with Pat Corbin and Randall Delgado seemingly the last two fighting for the fifth rotation spot. In the bullpen, J.J. Putz will be the closer, with Heath Bell ready to implode and David Hernandez ready to firefight.

Check out the Diamondbacks 2013 Depth Chart at MLB Depth Charts.

2013 Outlook: It’s tough to peg the Diamondbacks for a playoff spot given the top-heavy nature of the NL West. The Giants are the defending champs and though they didn’t make strides to improve, they’re also…the defending champs. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have spent all of the money. The Diamondbacks might improve on their 2012 record by a few wins, but I honestly feel like they hurt their medium-term potential with the Upton and Bauer deals, and they’ll regret it shortly.

Check out the Diamondbacks 2013 ZiPS projections at FanGraphs.

Bold Prediction: Trevor Bauer and Justin Upton both make the Diamondbacks cringe. Meanwhile, Martin Prado eases the pain with a four-win season and Paul Goldschmidt helps out by becoming a serious 30-homer bat in the heart of the order. But the real story is on the mound, where Miley proves that 2012 was more mirage than reality, making him a fringe-y starter at a 4.40 ERA.