This week, SI.com is previewing all 30 MLB teams, counting down to the No. 1 team in the league. At No. 17: The Arizona Diamondbacks. You can find previews for teams 30 through 18 here.
2013 Record and Finish: 81-81, second place in NL West
2014 Projected Record: 79-83, fourth place in NL West
The Case For
The Diamondbacks had the second-best record among teams that missed the postseason in 2013 and added a big bat this offseason by trading for new leftfielder Mark Trumbo. They added depth to their pitching staff by signing veteran workhorse Bronson Arroyo to their rotation and closer Addison Reed and lefty Oliver Perez to their bullpen. There is a fair amount of youth on this team, with first base, shortstop, centerfield, two rotation spots and closer all manned by players who will be 26 or younger this season. Similarly, Arroyo, deposed closer J.J. Putz, and reserves Eric Chavez and Henry Blanco (who may yet retire and become the assistant hitting coach) are the only players on the projected roster who will be 35 or older this season.
The Case Against
The team has lost ace Patrick Corbin for the season to Tommy John surgery. In the remaining rotation, the 37-year-old Arroyo has battled a bulging disk in his back this spring, and 30-year-old Brandon McCarthy is a lock to spend time on the disabled list with shoulder problems every year (he has never made more than 25 starts in a season). Trumbo is going to hit a ton of home runs this season, but he’s also going to make a ton of outs, as evidenced by his brutal .299 career on-base percentage. He’s also likely to give extra outs to the opposition in leftfield, a position at which he is inexperienced and to which he is ill-suited. The Diamondbacks were outscored by their opposition in 2013 and don’t appear to have significantly improved over the offseason. They are already two games out in their division and will play just 79 games at Chase Field this year, having been the home team in their two games in Australia.
X-Factor: Archie Bradley
One player who could move the needle for Arizona this year is 21-year-old righty Archie Bradley. Bradley, one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball thanks to an upper-90s fastball and hammer curve, lurks as a potential replacement for Corbin in the rotation coming off a season in which Bradley went 14-5 with a 1.84 ERA in High-A and Double-A, with 21 of his 26 starts coming at the higher level. Bradley could be a future ace and should make his major league debut at some point this year. He has some well-documented control problems (4.7 walks per nine innings in his minor league career, with six walks in 8 1/3 innings this spring), which seem likely to delay his arrival. However, if Bradley shows the necessary improvements early enough in the year, he could make a significant impact with the major league club this season.
Number to Know: .295
That was centerfielder Chris Young’s on-base percentage in 2007. He remains the only Diamondback ever to qualify for a batting title with an on-base percentage below .300. Mark Trumbo has had an OBP below .295 in two of his three full major league seasons.
Most overrated: Aaron Hill
"Aaron Hill is an offense-over-defense guy at second base. He's not real rangy and won't run much, but he can hit bombs."
Most underrated: Gerardo Parra
"I really like Gerardo Parra; he's underrated. He's got sneaky pop, and he can play all three outfield positions."
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