Some would argue that the Arizona Diamondbacks made a bigger splash this off-season than any other team. They made a lot of noise when they signed MLB's 2015 ERA leader Zack Grienke to a six year contract which is worth 205 million. They then further bolstered their pitching staff by adding Shelby Miller through trade, but had to give up number 1 overall draft pick Dansby Swanson in the process along with other capable young players such as Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte. With an already healthy young core including Paul Goldschmidt and AJ Pollock, the DBacks could be heading into 2016 as legitimate contenders in the NL West.
Zack Grienke, Shelby Miller, Jean Segura, Chris Herrman, Gabe Speier, Tyler Wagner, Joaquin Arias, Carlos Rivero, Jason Bourgeois, Chad Oberacker, Kyle Jensen, Tim Stauffer, Kyle Drabek, Matt Buschmann, Cody Hall, Sam McWilliams, Wesley Wright, Sam LeCure, Adam Lowen, Scott Rice, Jose Cisnero
Ender Inciarte, David Hernandez, Jeremy Hellickson, Aaron Hill, Chase Anderson, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jhoulys Chacin, Allen Webster, Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair, Isan Diaz, Daniel Palka, AJ Schugel
Biggest Strength - Hugely Upgraded Starting Rotation
Nobody is trying to say Zack Grienke isn't a stud ace for the simple fact that he is a stud ace. However, there are some out there hating on Shelby Miller a bit, but he should be considered a legitimate number 2 starter. The fact that he was top 30 in WAR out of all starting pitchers last year and only a couple of earned runs away from having a sub-3 ERA says a lot. So Arizona added both of them which puts Patrick Corbin, who is a very capable pitcher himself, in a supporting role. These top three pitchers can compete with any top three in the league. They aren't the best front three pitchers on a single team in the league by any means, but the fact that last season the Diamondbacks opening day starter was Josh Collmenter and now their top 3 are Grienke, Miller, and Corbin means that a massive step forward has occured. To be honest, this is the best the pitching staff has looked in AZ since the days of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.
Biggest Weakness - Uncertainty In The Bullpen
Even though this bullpen isn't as sexy as some of the other pens in the league, it was actually fairly effective last season. With that said, the peripherals don't really match up with what you want to see out of bullpens these days. For instance, they don't have any big time strike out guys and most of the guys throw in the high 80's and low 90's, with the exception of Daniel Hudson, who can bring the heat. The point here is, there could be regression in the bullpen this season because these guys don't go out there and dominate. If the Diamondbacks are in legitimate playoff contention, expect them to make a move for a big name reliever.
Something To Keep An Eye On - David Peralta To Play Full Time
David Peralta has put in a couple of good years now as a platoon player in Arizona. Both seasons he posted very good numbers and seems to always give good at bats. Because of this, the DBacks are likely to give him many more at bats in 2016. Although he only put up 17 homers last season, he did it without full time at bats, and he came close to posting a .900 OPS in the process which means he was on base all the time, and he got extra base hits often. Peralta actually finished 14th in the entire MLB in OPS last season, meaning that he might be close to being a star in the league. If he can be this productive offensively yet again alongside Goldschmidt and Pollock, this DBacks offense could be legitimately scary.
Projected Lineup… Lefties*… Switch Hitters^
- AJ Pollock - CF
- David Peralta* - RF
- Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
- Jake Lamb* - 3B
- Welington Castillo - C
- Yasmany Tomas - LF
- Jean Segura - 2B
- Nick Ahmed - SS
Projected Rotation… Lefties*
- Zack Grienke
- Patrick Corbin*
- Shelby Miller
- Robbie Ray*
- Rubby De La Rosa
Brad Ziegler - Closer
Fantasy Bargain - Wellington Castillo
This season catchers are very thin. After the first tier which is Buster Posey and Kyle Schwarber, things get kind of confusing. You can probably have a 2nd tier of Jonathan Lucroy, Russell Martin, and Brian McCann. After that it's sort of a free for all from numbers 6 through 20. Castillio is obviously in that group, but he's probably more towards the top. He's likely hitting near the heart of this lineup, which will be a good spot. He also crushed it last season in the second half after joining the DBacks. He's in the prime of his career right now and he's in a good situation coming off of a hot second half that could be in part to things working for him on this current club. Definitely worth taking a risk on.
Overrated Fantasy Option - AJ Pollock
Pollock is a great player, but you can't pay for a career year the way people want to pay for Pollocks this season. There's almost no way he can live up to these expectation being set by all these people drafting him in the top 20 overall. Also, steals are a sexy thing players add to the end of their stat line, but power is the scarcest commodity right now in baseball. Draft guarenteed home runs early and pick up Rajai Davis late in the draft to cover the steals Pollock would have gotten you.
This team has absolutely improved itself and has clearly found something with this homegrown offensive talent. The Grienke signing was absolutely necessary for them to compete this season as this team desperately needed an ace. There's always a chance that Goldy can put up an MVP season one of these years as well. Overall they look pretty darn good and don't have many holes to speak of other than their lack of fire out of the bullpen. Arizona should be good for just under 90 wins and that will put them in a rat race with the Dodgers and Giants for the division title.