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The D-backs were far better than anyone would have guessed, and that is largely thanks to Kirk Gibson making a young team better than they seemed on paper. They won 9 straight games at the end of the season to muscle into the playoffs, despite having only one recognizable star in sometimes-under-performing Justin Upton. He was trade bait not long ago, but now the Diamondbacks are making the trades. They should be in the thick of things come September, but they could use consistency—they’re still young and surprising on paper, and it may be tough to replicate the intensity of last season.
In: Jason Kubel (free agent)
Strength: Justin Upton re-established himself as a genuine star, and the pitchers last year kept the D-backs in things while the hit-or-miss batters put up timely hits despite showing unimpressive batting averages. It was an odd combination that seemed to work, but it’s not exactly the formula you’d care to rely on.
Weakness: youngster Paul Goldschmidt has potential and is still young, but in the NL you can’t have an unproductive bat at 1B. Aaron Hill, likewise, under-performed at the plate, as did Ryan Roberts, whose 19 home runs were cut by a .249 BA at 3B. Stephen Drew, a solid SS, also hit .252. How did the D-backs do so well with relatively average production at the plate?
Manager: Kirk Gibson
Projected Rotation: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill, Joe Saunders, Josh Collmenter