Baseball is back! We think. Each day, SportsIntel’s Matt DeSaro will take a look at two of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball as we head toward MLB Opening Day in late July, and we continue today in the NL West with the Arizona D-Backs.
The owners and players agreed in late June to stage a 60-game season, beginning July 24. There are still many hurdles to overcome in this COVID-19 landscape, but for now, the teams are gathering for “Summer Camp,” a Spring Training reboot crammed into three weeks.
MLB Opening Day – Arizona D-Backs
Arizona D-Backs | O/U 31.5 Wins | +6600 to win World Series
The Diamondbacks are a team that has been trending upwards over the last couple of seasons. They surprised many MLB prognosticators by winning 85 games last year, ten more than they were predicted to win. They even kept in the postseason hunt well into September, eventually finishing 2nd in the National League West.
Arizona GM, Mike Hazen, says that they are not satisfied with 85 wins. The team is looking to contend for their first World Series win since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling led the team over the Yankees in 2001.
Hazen has so far lived up to the promises by adding a significant amount of talent this offseason.
The biggest move they made by far was to lock Madison Bumgarner in for five-years and $85 million dollars. This gives the D-Backs the depth to perhaps trade some within the current rotation and money left to sped after MadBum deferred some of his salary.
They added even more to their off-season signings by snagging Hector Rondon, Stephen Vogt, Hector Rondon, and Junior Guerra to name a few.
Then they made a move on Starling Marte.
Marte had been a Pittsburgh Pirate for the entirety of his career after signing a minor league deal with them in 2007. The former all-star hit .311/.362/.456 last year with 47 swipes. He is a two-time Gold Glove winner in 2015 & 2016 and is solely responsible for 82 total defensive runs saved in the last five years. He did have a down year in the field last season but was playing center field and not his usual spot in left. He is a veteran presence that led the Pirates to three straight playoff berths and will be a welcome addition to this lineup.
As we head towards opening day, many MLB experts have ranked the D-Backs among the best offseasons in the league and I totally agree. They have improved more than any other team in the National League and could do some real damage in the playoffs if they can manage to get there.
Offseason Acquisitions: C Stephen Vogt, OF Starling Marte, OF Kole Calhoun, RHP Hector Rondon, RHP Junior Guerra, LHP Madison Bumgarner.
Offseason Losses: C Caleb Joseph, 2B Wilmer Flores, 3B Pat Valiaka, OF Adam Jones, OF Jarrod Dyson, RHP Yoshihisa Hirano, RHP Brennan Malone, RHP Taijuan Walker, LHP T.J. McFarland.
What Does Arizona D-Backs Do Well?
Well for starters, one thing they have proven to do well is making really good offseason moves. Even last season, despite losing three of their best players, put in the work and actually won more games in 2019.
And that isn’t the only metric they improved upon with their new-look team.
Arizona plated 813 runs, 120 more than the previous season and ranking them 13th in the majors. They also ranked 19th in long balls (220) and 11th in RBIs (644), both improvements on the previous season.
Enter this new-look outfield, full of talent at the plate, and things start to get interesting. Marte and Calhoun will join David Peralta with the potential of being the best outfield in baseball. Peralta is coming off a .275/.343/.461 season with a Gold Glove trophy after a breakout 2019. Kole Calhoun broke out in his own way last year, finding his power stroke at the tender age of 32. He smacked 33 home runs and hit .323/.325/.467 when all was said and done. Alone with Marte, this crew is coming off a year when they combined for a 7.0 WAR. I think each could grow that number with a better team around them and feeding each other’s success.
Their pitching staff should not be overlooked however after a very busy off-season. This will allow the Diamondbacks to have a competitive arm ready to go on any given night. There are no pushovers in this starting rotation.
The acquisition of Bumgarner obviously helps make that statement ring even truer. He joins Robbie Ray, Zac Gallen, Luke Weaver, Mike Leake and Marrill Kelly in what has grown into a true threat of a rotation. Much like Marte will do with the offense, MadBum has the competitiveness and knowledge to help develop this team’s young pitching talent. The six guys they have to fill those five sports are also a tremendous mix of veterans and young guys, along with a nice balance between lefties and righties.
If the Diamondbacks don’t suffer any significant injuries in the MLB season they will be a tough team to beat on any given night with the mix of offense and defense they possess.
Where Can They Improve?
The only real spot in which the Diamondbacks need immediate attention would be their bullpen. They don’t project to give them any sort of edge aside from Archie Bradley, who looks locked into the closer role.
But the pitching staff still has to get this team to the 9th inning with whatever leads they have intact.
Their best bet at this point would be to shift spot starters Alex Young and Jon Duplantier to the bullpen. These two are young and have little experience, just 145 innings pitched between them but could be one of the biggest difference makers in Arizona.
The signing of Junior Guerra will help, but this team still needs to find a few more pieces to keep them ahead late into games.
Arizona Win Total Prediction
I am very high on the D-Backs heading into MLB 2020 opening day . This is a team that will have a very strong rotation in 2020 with a stout defense to back them up.
Newly signed Madison Bumgarner is coming into his first season with Arizona at the perfect age of 30. The three-time World Series champion seemed ready for a new challenge with a new team and this might just be the perfect situation. Robby Ray will be pitching for a contract this year and Gallen crushed it last year after coming over from Miami. Leake and the others competing for the back end of the rotation are all plus options who can eat innings at the very least.
The offense impresses me as well. Especially their new-look outfield with Marte and Calhoun making their D-Backs debut. If Calhoun can hit over 30 home runs again this year and keep himself over the Mendoza line, it would be a big help to Arizona. Marte will perform to his usual high level of play. He brings playoff experience, pops off at the plate, has speed on the basepath and gold glove defense. Any team would be lucky to have him and Arizona should be prepared to reap the benefits.
As we head towards MLB opening day the only major roadblock standing between the D-Backs and the playoffs are the LA Dodgers. Winners of 106 games last season, they might be off to the races again in 2020 and leave Arizona in the dust.
This means the snakes need to snag one of the Wild Card spots in the NL. They fell just four games short of that mark last year and with the tools, they have brought in it would surprise me if they failed that goal.
C – Carson Kelly
1B – Christian Walker
2B – Ketel Marte
3B – Eduardo Escobar
SS – Nick Ahmed
LF – David Peralta
CF – Starling Marte
RF – Kole Calhoun