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January 17, 2014

Fantasy Team Preview

Arizona Diamondbacks

by Paul Sporer

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The Diamondbacks’ moves the last two years have been a bit peculiar and yet seemingly despite their best efforts, they still have a rather formidable team. They have established star talent, quality veteran talent, and emerging young talent. It’s far from a flawless team, but it has the makings of a contender. Additionally—and more importantly—it is ripe with fantasy goodness.

Projected Lineup

  1. CF Gerardo Parra
  2. 2B Aaron Hill
  3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt
  4. C Miguel Montero
  5. LF Mark Trumbo
  6. 3B Martin Prado
  7. RF Cody Ross
  8. SS Didi Gregorius

Parra was overexposed last year, as he was asked to face a lefty 200 times, about 150 more than he should in a given season. He has one good season against southpaws (2011) and has been rapidly declining since then, plunging from a .790 OPS to last year’s .501 embarrassment that would’ve been worse had he not achieved an 8.5 percent walk rate. He will spend 2014 platooning with Pollock, which should yield a strong leadoff combination to set the table for a bevy of impact bats.

Goldschmidt is obviously a bona fide first rounder and I strongly advocate him just behind Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera atop the draft. A full season of Hill, who has gotten on base at a 36 percent clip over the last two years, combined with the leadoff tandem, will offer plenty of opportunities for Goldschmidt to retain his title as the NL RBI leader. Prado had a .626 OPS in mid-June, but closed the season with an .840 in his final 91 games and helped a lot of patient fantasy owners with their summer surges.

The team may need to deploy Chavez as a platoon partner for Ross (shifting Prado to the outfield) if his 2013 numbers against righties are a new trend. He was more than passable with OPS totals of .740 and .729 in 2011-2012, but fell to .603 last year. Lefties have never really stood a chance against him. Ross has a career .938 OPS against them including a 1.011 mark the last two years.

Projected Bench

Chavez and Pollock will get plenty of burn, enough to be viable NL-only options and even deep-mixed-league reserves. Tuiasosopo has some pop, but nothing too special, while the other two are defense-first bench guys.

Projected Rotation

This may not be set in stone as the D’Backs have pined for an impact arm all offseason, but to no avail. Of course, at this point in time, the pitching market is still flush. They don’t really have any bad arms in the bunch, but they also lack a true star, unless Corbin not only repeats his breakout, but improves on it. Whether they acquire another arm or not, Archie Bradley will ideally take a rotation spot at some point during this season. Corbin and Miley are easily the top fantasy assets, but McCarthy should be a nice value after a down 2013 season. I’m among those who like Delgado’s upside more than most.

Projected Bullpen

The acquisition of Reed gives them a true closer and a more stable situation than last year, but if for some reason he fails, they still have several options capable of doing the job. A healthy Putz would be second in line, but who knows how long that is going to last in any given season? Hernandez is looking to improve from an ugly season during which he allowed 1.4 HR/9, missing a golden opportunity to seize an up-for-grabs closer’s role.

He was incredible in 2011-2012 so the turmoil with the role seemed like a perfect opportunity for him, but he simply wasn’t himself. Ziegler benefited most from last year’s uncertainty with a career-high 13 saves. Despite his success, he couldn’t secure the role going forward. The bullpen stacks up very nicely, overall, and should cover some of the deficiencies of the staff, especially if McCarthy, Cahill, and Delgado don’t improve markedly.

Position Battles
They really don’t have one at this point. If they do acquire an arm, they are likely to get an impact one, so Delgado would be the odd man out of the rotation or perhaps given a chance to square off against Cahill for the fifth spot, but it would all depend on who they got.

Player to Target: Aaron Hill
He’s a little forgotten with only 362 PA last season, but the numbers were excellent across the board save his stolen bases (just 1-for-5). He can deliver enough value in the other four categories that even if he doesn’t return to the 21 or 14 stolen bases levels of 2011 and 2012, respectivelt, he will be a prime second-base asset.

Player to Avoid: Gerardo Parra
He needs to be stealing bases to be a real asset and even then, he’s far from someone to seek out. He was just 10-for-20 in 2013 after a 15-for-24 effort in 2012. He could see his opportunities dwindle again with massive improvements on the basepaths. He is a bit overrated as a sneaky asset, which takes away most of the sneakiness.

Deep Sleeper: Charles Brewer
The big 26-year-old right-hander got hit around a bit in 139 2/3 innings at Triple-A Reno. Of course, PCL numbers are tough to take seriously for anyone, given the comical environments in most of the stadiums. He actually got six innings out of the major-league bullpen during two different stints in the middle of the summer. With McCarthy hardly a model of health and Delgado far from a guarantee to improve, Brewer could find himself with an opportunity in the rotation. He keeps the ball down, limits walks, and could miss a handful of bats.

Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Paul's other articles. You can contact Paul by clicking here

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