The 2011 Diamondbacks took the league by surprise by winning the NL West with a 94-68 record after finishing at 65-97 only a year prior. It’s not often a team goes from worst to first in the span of a year, but the Diamondbacks managed to do it behind a much improved rotation and bullpen, and the continued growth of their young star, Justin Upton. The Diamondbacks don’t figure to have it as easy in 2012 as their pitching should regress across the board and their rather curious offseason doesn’t look like it did much to improve the team. Still, the NL West looks to be wide open heading into the season and the Diamondbacks will most likely be in the competition for another playoff berth.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2012 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C Miguel Montero||.282||.351||.469||65||18||86||1||493|
|1B Paul Goldschmidt||.250||.333||.474||28||8||26||4||156|
|2B Aaron Hill||.246||.299||.356||61||8||61||21||520||w/2T|
|SS Stephen Drew||.252||.317||.396||44||5||45||4||321|
|3B Ryan Roberts||.249||.341||.427||86||19||65||18||482|
|LF Jason Kubel||.273||.332||.434||37||12||58||1||366||w/MIN|
|CF Chris Young||.236||.331||.420||89||20||71||22||567|
|RF Justin Upton||.289||.369||.529||105||31||88||21||592|
Unsettled: Left field. One of the most curious moves of the Diamondbacks’ offseason was the acquisition of Jason Kubel. Kubel is a decent player, but with a younger and better Gerardo Parra already manning left field, the two-year, $15 million deal really doesn’t make much sense for the Diamondbacks. We can’t know for sure how the Diamondbacks intend to use Kubel, but it’s unlikely that they’d pay him that kind of salary unless they expected to be giving him a significant amount of playing time. Parra should still see time all over the outfield, but his playing time looks like it will be severely diminished to make room for an inferior player.
Target: Miguel Montero. After an injury shortened 2010, Montero returned to his 2009 breakout form putting together a very nice year in 2011. Montero is still in his prime, and as long as he stays healthy he should continue to be a valuable fantasy catcher. I’d put him just below the tier of Posey, Mauer, and McCann, and yet his MDP is around 40 picks later than catchers. The drop-off in fantasy production is is not near enough to warrant that kind of difference, so I’d much prefer to wait and try to grab Montero in the ninth or tenth round.
|Ian Kennedy (R)||21-4||2.88||1.09||198||55||222|
|Daniel Hudson (R)||16-12||3.49||1.20||169||50||222|
|Trevor Cahill (R)||12-14||4.16||1.43||147||82||207.2||w/OAK|
|Josh Collmenter (R)||10-10||3.38||1.07||100||28||154.1|
|Joe Saunders (L)||12-13||3.69||1.31||108||67||212|
Unsettled: None. With Jarrod Parker moving to Oakland in return for Cahill the Diamondbacks rotation is pretty set heading into the season. Even so, Collmenter and Saunders are in for some major regression, and the ridiculous Diamondbacks’ minor league pitching headed by Trevor Bauer could come knocking at some point during the season.
Target: Daniel Hudson. Hudson is my target by default as the other four options are either headed for regression or not fantasy relevant. While Ian Kennedy did have a great season, it was not as good as it looked on the surface as his low BABIP and HR/FB and high LOB% are most likely unsustainable. As those regress so should his surface stats. Collmenter and Saunders way outperformed their FIPs and don’t strike out enough batters to be fantasy relevant. The move to the NL from the AL would normally be a boon to a pitcher like Cahill, except he’s going from one of the best pitcher parks to one of the best hitter parks in baseball. Like Collmenter and Saunders, he doesn’t strike out many batters and his fantasy value suffers for it. Hudson’s one knock in 2011 was a mediocre strikeout rate, but he showed quite a bit more strikeout potiential in 2010 and across his minor league career. With a full season under his belt we could definitely see an improvement there which would only bolster his already solid fantasy value.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|J.J. Putz (R)||45||2.17||0.91||61||12||58|
|David Hernandez (R)||11||3.38||1.14||77||30||69.1|
Chasing Saves: When he’s healthy Putz is one of the most solid closers in the game. His elite strikeout and walk rates are fantasy gold and while he’s due for some regression in 2011, as long as he stays healthy he’ll rack up the saves. If Putz should hit the disabled list again, David Hernandez would be likely to fill the void. He saved 11 games in 2011 and has very good strikeout stuff so it’s clear he’s a guy the Diamondbacks would trust in the ninth should anything happen to Putz.
Final Thoughts: Despite the active offseason, it really doesn’t seem like the Diamondbacks have done much to improve heading into 2012. The signing of Kubel doesn’t make much sense and the signing of both Bloomquist and McDonald seems unnecessary. While their bullpen should remain a strength, they have some major question marks in their rotation. Even so, the eventual arrival of stud pitching prospect Trevor Bauer could provide a major boost to the rotation. With no clear leader in the NL West it seems likely we’ll see a close three team race between the Diamondbacks, Giants, and Rockies and it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see the Dodgers or Padres stay in the race. Either way, the Diamondbacks should continue to contend and we should expect an entertaining race in the West.
Michael Marinakis is a 26-year-old Giants fan who took 2011 off from fantasy baseball to bask in the glory of the World Series victory. He's now back in the game and looking forward to another year of baseball obsession. You can find him on the forums where he posts as GiantsFan14 or on Twitter @FBC_GiantsFan14.
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