85-77 and but a few games away from an NL wildcard spot, the Arizona Diamondbacks almost pulled off the seemingly impossible in 2019 after trading away their Ace, Zack Greinke. This is a sign of things to come from this superbly-run organization as they look to secure a playoff spot in the 2020 campaign, should the season go ahead. Mike Hazen has built this playoff-bound ship with shrewd trades, tactical signings, and shrewd draft picks.
In December 2018, the D-Backs traded away the face of the organization: Paul Goldshmidt. The first baseman was a .297 career hitter as well as a perennial All-Star, 3-time Gold-Glover and 4-time silver slugger. He was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 8th round of the 2009 MLB draft and has since been a fan-favorite player. Mike Hazen shipped him off to the St. Louis Cardinals in return for Luke Weaver (RHP), Carson Kelly (C), and Andy Young (2B). Whilst this trade was a sad day for both the fans and Goldschmidt himself, it elevated the Arizona roster immediately.
Carson Kelly had a breakout year with a .245 batting average and .826 OPS, splitting time behind the plate with Alex Avila. Before his injury after 12 starts, Luke Weaver also put up impressive numbers pitching for a 2.94 ERA with a 1.073 WHIP. Weaver has made a full recovery and pitched innings in D’Backs spring training. At present Andy Young is playing well for the Diamondbacks’ triple-a affiliate, the Reno Aces.
Surprisingly, Goldy’s departure has not left a gaping hole in 1st base production thanks to Christian Walker, who stepped up and had a season that surprised everyone. He batted for .259 and had a slugging percentage of .476 – very impressive for a rookie.
Yes – that’s right, the ballclub has not one, but two Martes (no, they’re not brothers) on the roster – both dangermen at the plate. Ketel Marte (CF/2B) was acquired from the Seattle Mariners. Marte and Taijuan Walker (RHP) were traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in return for Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger, and Zac Curtis. Taijuan Walker has since left following injury struggles.
Marte, however, has made a name for himself as one of the best players in the MLB. Following a temporary transition to centerfield for the 2019 season, the young star found himself 4th in NL MVP votes. Ketel hit for .329 and had an OPS of .981, nothing short of outstanding. Marte is viewed by many as the face of this new look Arizona team.
Starling Marte was acquired in what can only be described as a robbery. Yet another puzzling move from the Pirates front office had the outfielder packing his bags for the desert in return for prospects Brennan Malone (RHP), the 33rd pick in the 2019 draft, Liover Peguero (SS), and $250,000 in international signing bonus pool money. Starling will act as a more than solid bat for the D’backs – having batted for over .275 each year following his rookie season.
Veteran Diamondbacks 3rd baseman Eduardo Escobar claims his power is derived from his favorite steakhouse – Fogo de Chao! This #FogoPower helped him on his way to lead the MLB in triples and rack up a total of 118 RBIs. Escobar got hardly any rest either, appearing in 158 games. Having solidified himself as an everyday player in Arizona, he will look to continue this production into 2020.
Freight Train Gathering Steam
Despite missing a portion of the 2019 MLB season with an injury, David Peralta’s production was not hindered when he was at the plate. Peralta got on base 34% of the time and accrued 176 total bases over the 99 games he played. It should also be noted that he averaged .275 as well as the fact he was a Golden Glover. Expect a big year from the big left fielder.
Gallens of Potential
The wizard in charge of the D’backs roster and front office – otherwise known as Mike Hazen – pulled off one last trick on deadline day: the acquisition of young pitcher Zac Gallen from the Marlins. The 24-year-old rookie throws a 93 mph four-seamer as well as an 87 mph slider (hybrid slider/cutter pitch), 85 mph change-up, and a 79 mph curve. Gallen has also been known to mix in a 5th pitch: a sinker. Since arriving in Arizona, Gallen pitched for a 2.89 ERA and averaged 10.9 strikeouts per-9. His fastball/changeup combination is devastating for opposition batters.
Zac Gallen fastball/change-up overlay
My 2020 D’backs Rotation
- Madison Bumgarner (or should I say Mason Saunders?)- the crafty veteran still has gas left in the tank. Despite not being the “best” pitcher on the lineup, he certainly has the experience and poise to help the younger pitchers on the roster by leading with the cool and calm example he sets.
- Robbie Ray – You can be sure of one thing when its “Ray Day” in Arizona: lots of strikeouts. Ray averaged 12.1 punchouts every 9 innings last year. Despite numerous trade rumors involving his name, the lefty is a back for another season with the Diamondbacks and will look to improve his 4.34 ERA.
- Zac Gallen – You could argue that 3 is too high in the rotation for a 2nd-year pitcher who spends a portion of his rookie year in triple-a, however, the young star has shown he has what it takes to be a big part of the pitching staff in Arizona.
- Luke Weaver – Since he was brought over from St. Louis with his preferred catcher – Carson Kelly – Weaver has impressed as a starter in the limited sample size before his injury. Following his Tommy John surgery, Diamondbacks fans will be itching to see Weaver’s return to the mound.
- Alex Young – The rookie starter was thrust into the limelight after he shone on the mound following several pitching injuries for Arizona. Young was consistent and calm on his starts and threw for a 3.56 ERA and had a relatively low WHIP of 1.188.
Mike Leake is up for contention for the number 5 spot in the rotation because of his experience and his ability to draw soft contact from batters, but the 5 pitchers above are simply better pitchers.
My 2020 D’backs Lineup
- Starling Marte – CF – The new guy on the block, Starling will likely be the D’backs leadoff man.
- Ketel Marte – 2B – Best batter in the lineup, Ketel will be in the 2020 NL MVP race.
- Eduardo Escobar – 3B – The RBI king, expect many more runs batted in from Escobar.
- David Peralta – LF – The freight train will likely bat cleanup being the slugger he is.
- Christian Walker – 1B – If this season is as good as his last, D’backs fans are in for a treat.
- Kole Calhoun – RF – Newly signed from the Angels, Calhoun will be the D’backs everyday right-fielder.
- Nick Ahmed – SS – Ahmed is a wizard with his glove and is developing into a solid batter too.
- Carson Kelly – C – Famed for 2 homer game at Dodger field that helped the Diamondbacks beat out LA in extras, the young catcher is a force to be reckoned with at the plate.
Overall, the D’backs are a team with a relatively high floor and high upside for 2020. Though it is unlikely that they win the NL West with the Dodgers there, don’t be shocked if they clinch a wildcard spot and sneak into the post-season. In years to come, Arizona players like Zac Gallen and prospect RHP Corbin Martin will become as famous as the Justin Verlanders and Max Scherzers of today. This franchise is gearing up towards a world series and its only a matter of time…