30 in 30: Arizona Diamondbacks

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1988

The Arizona Diamondbacks went 82-80 last season, which is generally good, but it was a step down from their 2017 season. In 2017, they went 93-69 and made the postseason, however they were swept in the NLDS by the NL Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. They finished 3rd in their division, 9.5 games out of first, and fell short of the second wildcard spot, 8.5 games. The Diamondbacks are probably taking more of a step back, and they are probably going to start the rebuild.

The Diamondbacks shocked the world on December 5th, 2018 when they traded superstar first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals. Goldschmidt’s 2018 season was a very good one. He hit .290/.316/.533 and had a walk rate percentage of 13%. He also helped in the defensive department as he won three Rawlings’ Gold Gloves in 2013, 2015, and 2017 with the Diamondbacks. He was an All-Star in 2013-2018 and was a Silver Slugger in 2013, 2015-2018. These accomplishments are proof that he was an impact in the league, his average of 141.9 wRC+ during his tenure with the Diamondbacks is also incredibly impressive.

The return of the trade wasn’t as impressive as Paul Goldschmidt himself. The St. Louis Cardinals sent catcher Carson Kelly, right-handed starter Luke Weaver, second baseman Andy Young, and future considerations. The best player, so far, is Luke Weaver, mainly because he is the only one in the majors right now. He struggled a bit as he had a 4.95 ERA, 3.56% walk percentage, and a 12.7% home run per fly ball percentage. He did, however, have a 68.7% left on base percentage. The 24-year-old will get better over time, but the Diamondbacks will have to deal with his growing pains.

Carson Kelly, who might be in the majors sooner rather than later, hit .269/.378/.395 in 83 games with the Cardinals AAA affiliate Memphis Redbirds. He also posted a 13.8% strikeout percentage and a 13.8% walk percentage. In 83 games, a strikeout percentage that low is amazing, and a walk percentage that high is even better. If he can keep those percentages to about where they are in the majors, then he will be a solid batter in this league for years to come.

Last but not least, there is Andy Young. He played in AA with the Springfield Cardinals where he hit .319/.395/.556 with nine home runs in 35 games. His strikeout percentage was 17.1%, which is pretty good but could be better, and his wRC+ was 160. I know it is only AA but it seems like, for the 35 games at least, he’s gonna kill it. At 24 years of age, he can still develop into the player the Diamondbacks want him to be. The future of the three players looks promising as they are all 24 years old, and this definitely seems like a point that they are planning to rebuild, or at least retool.

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Another top prospect that the Diamondbacks have is shortstop Jazz Chisholm, number 60 in MLB.com’s top 100 prospects. The 21-year-old played for the A+ team Visalia Rawhide and he averaged .329/.369/.597 in 36 games. Those are solid numbers that he can hopefully bring to the next level. He can, however, lower his 32.5% strikeout percentage, but even with that atrocious percentage, he still had a wRC+ of 156. He is only 21, so he has plenty of time to figure it out and get better.

Paul Goldschmidt wasn’t the only player that left the Diamondbacks for a greener pasture. Star starting pitcher Patrick Corbin left the Diamondbacks to go to the Washington Nationals and outfielder A.J. Pollock left to go to NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers.

Pollock is a big loss to the Diamondbacks because he helped both sides of the ball: offense, and defense. He hit .257/.316/.484, but he also had a strikeout percentage of 21.7, which the Diamondbacks are probably willing to give up. He also won the Rawlings’ Gold Glove in 2015, the same year he was an All-Star. While he was really good, the Diamondbacks probably lost more when they lost Patrick Corbin. Corbin was the second counterpunch to Zack Greinke. While Greinke was seen as the team’s ace, Corbin was equally as good at times. He had a 3.15 ERA, a strikeout percentage of 30.8%, 11.07 strikeouts per nine innings, and a left on base percentage of 74.7%. He was an All-Star in 2013 and in 2018. He was better than Greinke in the 2018 season, and it wasn’t really that close. These losses plus Goldschmidt will definitely hurt this team for the upcoming season and for the future.

Zack Greinke, the 35-year-old ace, is nearing the end of his career. He had an ERA of 3.21 and a left on base percentage of 80.2%, and a strikeout percentage of 23.7%. Those are really solid statistics, especially for a 34-year-old starter. One stat that he could lower is his home run per flyball, which is 15%. The Diamondbacks are probably going to trade him this season while he is relatively young for a contending team that needs a great pitcher, or they are going to hold on to him until he retires., which may be before his contract ends in 2021.

The Diamondbacks also have outfielder Steven Souza Jr., who is a young outfielder that could be with the team for a while. Souza Jr. hit .220/.309/.369 in 72 games with the new team. His wRC+ was 84, below the league average of 100, which is lackluster but could be better, like his 2017 season with the Tampa Bay Rays, which was 120 in 148 games. If he stays healthy this season, he probably will rebound to his 2017 season.

He won’t be alone in the outfield. The Diamondbacks signed Adam Jones to a one-year contract. This is a big offseason acquisition for both sides. Adam Jones won’t be the same player he was in Baltimore, although Arizona wants him to, and the Diamondbacks needed veteran leadership in the lineup. I don’t expect him to play everyday, but I do expect him to be a crucial role in this team’s success. He is a veteran that could show the young players how to truly prepare for a long season. Hopefully they can keep Jones for more than one year, so he can teach the youth that hasn’t quite made the majors yet.

I fully expect this team to not be that good. The San Diego Padres got better with the Manny Machado, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be competitive for as they have won the National League for the past two years, and the Colorado Rockies aren’t going anywhere with Nolan Arenado leading the way. Bruce Bochy could also make the San Francisco Giants play out of their minds as it’s Bochy’s last season. The Diamondbacks aren’t going to contend this year, and maybe the next few, but they do have a good looking future.

Team Projection: 68-94

Team MVP: Zack Greinke

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