Welcome to your 2014 Arizona Diamondbacks Fantasy Baseball preview! While 2013 was a down year, from a Fantasy perspective, for many D-backs not named Paul Goldschmidt at least, who finished second in NL MVP voting behind his huge year. But 2014 provides an opportunity for a turnaround for some of their disappointing outputs.
It has been a busy winter for the 2014 Arizona Diamondbacks. The decision makers, Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers, were both recently inked to extensions and they made two big trades, acquiring Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed.
Both players have a chance to contribute greatly this year. However, the players sent away in these deals – Adam Eaton, Matt Davidson and Tyler Skaggs – have bright futures. These moves were about now, not the future. It will be interesting to see how these trades work out, both in the short term and long term.
After failing to find a frontline starting pitcher through trade (they had talks with the Cubs regarding Jeff Samardzija) and free agency (mentioned among the Masahiro Tanaka suitors), the D-backs settled for Bronson Arroyo. With this signing, they added a back-of-the-rotation innings-eater, while correspondingly improving their pitching depth.
Projected 2014 Arizona Diamondbacks “Go-To” Lineup:
- Martin Prado, 3B
- Aaron Hill, 2B
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- Mark Trumbo, LF
- Miguel Montero, C
- Gerardo Parra, RF
- AJ Pollock, CF
- Didi Gregorius, SS
- Starting Pitcher
- SP1 Patrick Corbin, LHP
- SP2 Trevor Cahill, RHP
- SP3 Wade Miley, LHP
- SP4 Bronson Arroyo, RHP
- SP5 Brandon McCarthy, RHP
- Others: Randall Delgado, Archie Bradley
- Setup: J.J. Putz
- Closer: Addison Reed
Fantasy Stud: Paul Goldschmidt
In his second full season, Goldschmidt exploded with 36 home runs, 103 runs, and 125 RBI to go along with 15 stolen bases and a .401 on-base percentage. Add the Gold Glove and you have a real star.
When Goldschmidt was a prospect, he always showed the potential, but what he has shown in his first two seasons is remarkable. The power, speed and hit combo that Goldschmidt encompasses is not often seen at first base.
Digging deeper into the numbers: Goldschmidt’s K-rate has dropped each year of his professional career and his walk rate increased over 3% last year, proving his numbers are legit. Even with a slight dip in production, Goldschmidt is very deserving of a high pick in this year’s drafts.
Breakout Candidate: A.J. Pollock
Pollock will have competition for playing time this season, as Mark Trumbo will be the full-time left fielder leaving Pollock, Gerardo Parra and Cody Ross to fight for the other two outfield spots. Let’s look at their lefty-righty splits for all three:
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Since Pollock appears to be the most consistent against both, he seems to be 2014 Arizona Diamondbacks’ best option for their everyday center fielder with Parra and Ross platooning in right field.
And if that proves to be the case, he will provide solid underrated production. Pollock has the speed potential to steal 20-25 bases and enough power to hit 10-15 home runs. That would put Pollock in the top 40 among OFs.
Sleeper Candidate: Aaron Hill
In 2012, Aaron Hill’s Fantasy line was 93 runs/26 HR/85 RBI/14 SB/.302 avg/.360 OBP. Depending on your format, that was generally good for second-best at his position. After an injury-riddled season in 2013, people are sleeping on Hill as he is falling down draft boards. Most publications have Hill ranked 10th or lower among second basemen.
The most concerning thing about Hill’s 2013 season was the lack of running and, furthermore, lack of successful running. Hill only attempted five stolen bases, being caught on four of those attempts. The days of 15-20 SBs are gone. But Hill’s power and contact are still there. If he can stay healthy, look for a finish closer to the top 5 among second basemen than outside the top 10.
Bust Candidate: Mark Trumbo
Trumbo is an intriguing player. He has as much power as anyone in the league, averaging nearly 32 home runs per season over the past three years with the Angels. Moving to Arizona and the National League will only help this. He has also improved his runs, HR and RBI, as well as his walk rate each of the past three seasons.
Conversely, Trumbo’s K-rate has also risen. This is the problem with him. If he is able to get on base more often while continuing to develop as a hitter, he will not belong on the bust list.
The reason he is included here, is because if he is not able to develop the patience and overall hit tool, things could fall apart. The outfield depth for the D-backs was already discussed and Trumbo is not good defensively. He is not at risk of losing all value, but he could be over-drafted in leagues in hopes that he becomes a 40-HR player. His plate discipline may hold him back from achieving this goal.
Top Rookies: Archie Bradley, Chris Owings
Bradley is widely considered one of the top pitching prospects in MLB. He has a plus-plus fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s, a good curveball, and a changeup that is improving. His frame — 6-foot-4, 225 lbs. — is that of a workhorse. And his makeup has no question marks. Bradley is a future frontline starter and may have an opportunity to show that to us very soon. The signing of Arroyo may push his debut back a little, but it may not matter if Bradley continues his torrid path through the minors.
Owings, the D-backs No. 2 prospect, has a chance to contribute to the D-backs again in 2014. Didi Gregorius is currently penciled into the shortstop position and is far better defensively. However, Owings batted .291 with a .361 OBP in 61 plate appearances at the major-league level last season and Gregorius does not add much offensively. With Owings showing that his bat belongs and a Triple-A stat line of 12 HR, 81 RBI, and 20 steals with a batting average of .330 and an OBP of .359 from last year, he may force his way into the lineup.
What Should We Know?
This is a team that underperformed in 2013 and may have a chip on its shoulders entering 2014. Pollock, Hill, Miguel Montero, and Martin Prado are all guys that should have better Fantasy years in 2014. Hill had an unforeseeable injury yet was still on pace for nice numbers. Montero had an uncharacteristic year after previously being a Fantasy stalwart. Prado has distanced himself from the pressure of the Justin Upton deal, while Pollock enters the season with a clearer role after making nice strides in 2013. In short, all these guys can be had for cheap and should outperform their 2013 numbers.
Josh Meredith is a co-founder of RotoRankers.com, a Fantasy Baseball blog providing the most up-to-date and accurate Fantasy Baseball rankings. We also publish our own projections. Find all of our content at rotorankers.tumblr.com and follow us on Twitter, @rotorankers. Please also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and “Like” us on Facebook.
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