The Diamondbacks have been a competitive team over the last three seasons, but they missed the playoffs in 2018 (82-80) and 2019 (85-77). In the team’s 22-year history, Arizona has one World Series title and six trips to the postseason.
They signed SP Madison Bumgarner to a five-year $85 million contract in mid-December. RP Junior Guerra and RP Hector Rondon were added to the bullpen over the winter via free agency. The Pirates shipped OF Starling Marte to Arizona for SS Liover Peguero and SP Brennan Malone. The Diamondbacks invested in OF Kole Calhoun to take over in right field while taking two shots for their backup catching job – Stephen Vogt and John Hicks.
Arizona scored 813 runs (13th), which was 120 more than in 2018. They ranked 19th in home runs (220) and 11th in RBI (778). The Cardinals gave up 97 more runs (743) than they allowed in 2018 (644), leading to a drop to 12th in ERA (4.25). Their closers had 45 saves.
On most nights in 2020, Arizona will wheel out a competitive option to start. Their starting pitching staff has both experience and upside. The health of Luke Weaver and the development of Zac Gallen would be keys to their push toward the postseason.
The bullpen doesn’t project to be an edge, but Archie Bradley looks more than capable of handling the 9th inning.
Based on name value, the Diamondbacks appear to be trailing a couple of teams in their division on the offensive side of the ball. Arizona has talented at the top of their lineup with some complementary depth, but they don’t have the ideal third and fourth hitters to be an explosive offensive for the long haul.
In the mix for a wild card berth, but running down the Dodgers for the division title would be a tall task.
1. OF Ketel Marte
Since coming through the minors as a light-hitting player over seven seasons (.296 with 17 HRs, 211 RBI, and 109 SBs over 2,088 at-bats), Marte has had a complete flip in his skill-set in 2018 and 2019. Last year he had a massive jump in both his CTBA (.387 – .306 in 2018) and his average hit rate (1.802 – 1.681 in 2018 and 1.517 in 2017). Marte set career-highs in at-bats (569), runs (97), double (32), home runs (32), and RBI (92) while becoming a much better hitter with runners on base (RBI rate – 18). He remains tough to strikeout (13.7 percent) with about a league average walk rate (8.4).
Most of his power came before the All-Star break (.311 with 58 runs, 20 HRs, and 53 RBI over 354 at-bats) while doing more damage in batting average over the final four months (.362). His season ended ten days too early with a back issue. Marte had more production against lefties (.333 with 12 HRs and 31 RBI over 165 at-bats), but he handled himself well vs. right-handed pitching (.327 with 20 HRs and 61 RBI over 404 at-bats). His hard-hit rate (40.0) finished 112th in baseball while almost doubling his career HR/FB rate (10.9) in 2019 (19.0).
Real juicy swing based on last year’s stats. Fantasy owners can pick him up with about the 45th pick based on his ADP. I’d temper my expectations here: .300 with 100 runs, 20 home runs, 75 RBI, and a push for 15+ steals.
2. OF Starling Marte
Last year Marte missed ten days in April with an abdominal issue, and his season ended with three weeks to go with a left wrist injury. He finished with the lowest strikeout rate (16.0) of his career, with a rebound in his CTBA (.357). Marte still doesn’t take many walks (4.3 percent), which hurts his chance of batting leadoff. He had a slight bump in his AVH (1.704). After a slow start in April (.200 with three HRs and 11 RBI over 124 at-bats), Marte hit .312 over his next 461 at-bats with 87 runs, 20 home runs, 71 RBI, and 22 stolen bases highlighted by an impactful August (.339 with 20 runs, five HRs, 17 RBI, and 11 SBs over 115 at-bats).
His bat had more value against righties (.304 with 17 HRs, 66 RBI, and 18 SBs over 505 at-bats). He ranked 133rd in his hard-hit rate (38.5). Marte still hits a ton of ground balls (50.5 percent), leading to a shallow fly-ball rate (28.2). His HR/FB rate (18.5) improved for the second straight season (9.9 in 2017 and 14.0 in 2018).
Excellent source of power and speed with neutral value being his floor in the other three categories. Based on his ADP (32), fantasy owners need 100-plus runs with 20-plus home runs, and 30-plus steals to payoff. In 2019, Marte finished 17th in SIscore (5.79).
3. OF David Peralta
After the best season of his career, Peralta played well over his first 182 at-bats (.319 with 27 runs, seven HRs, and 30 RBI) in 2019. He missed the end of May with a right shoulder injury that flared up again in early July and ended his season in late August with surgery. The Diamondbacks signed him to a three-year, $22 million contract in early January, which shows that they are confident that his shoulder will be fine going forward.
Peralta only hit .227 after the All-Star break with three home runs and 13 RBI over 88 at-bats. His jump in power in 2018 came from a career-high in his HR/FB rate (23.4) that drifted back to 14.6 in 2019. He has a fly-ball rate (27.7) under 30.0 in each of his previous four years in the majors. Peralta posted a favorable RBI rate (18) in 2018 and 2019.
A nice solid major league bat with a floor of a .280/80/20/80 season with 550 at-bats. A move to 30-plus home runs would require a change in swing path. His ADP (260) has a wide range from low (178) to high (325).
4. 3B Eduardo Escobar
In 2019, Escobar had the best opportunity of his career. He set career-highs for the second straight year in at-bats (636), runs (94), hits (171), home runs (35) and RBI (118). His AVH (1.901) had more growth with regression in his CTBA (.338). He had his lowest strikeout rate (18.6) of his career with an improving walk rate (7.2) compared to his career average (6.7). Escobar beat up on left-handed pitching (.298 with 11 HRs and 35 RBI over 191 at-bats).
His best play came before the All-Star break (.296 with 58 runs, 18 HRs, and 67 RBI over 348 at-bats), but he did bash ten home runs with 28 RBI in August (.229 over 109 at-bats). His hard-hit rate (31.5) ranked poorly (207th). Escobar continues to have a fly-ball swing path (44.6 percent) while posting the highest HR/FB rate (15.2) of his career.
Last year was probably the perfect storm for him in RBI production. Improving player with a chance at an 80/30/90 with some risk in batting average. Escobar has the most value for a fantasy team at second base with an ADP of 119. It’s all about team structure here.
5. 1B Christian Walker
Walker has a respectable seven-season resume in the minors (.285 with 125 HRs and 484 RBI over 2,882 at-bats). He repeated AAA five times (.279 with 92 HRs and 342 RBI over 2,042). A Jake Lamb injury six games into 2019 created a starting job for him. Walker started well in April (.307 with seven HRs and 15 RBI over 101 at-bats), but his bat had no value over his first 24 games in May (.170 with nine runs, one HR, and three RBI over 88 at-bats). He rebounded over his next 40 games (.281 with 27 runs, 11 HRs, and 30 RBI over 135 at-bats).
Walker finished the year with ten home runs and 25 RBI over 205 at-bats. His AVH (1.839) fell in line with his previous two seasons in the minors. He had risk in his strikeout rate (25.7) while doing a good job taking walks (11.1 percent). Walker needs to improve against lefties (.241 with six HRs and 14 RBI over 145 at-bats). His hard-hit rate (48.4) has the 16th highest value in baseball. He set a career-high in his HR/FB rate (20.1) at any level. This season Lamb will be in the mix for at-bats at first base, which may force one of the two to seek playing time at another position.
Real risky player based on his draft value (ADP – 202). Walker should improve in his second year in the majors, but his RBI rate (12) wasn’t ready to hit in the middle of the batting order. I would draft him with the idea of 450 at-bats.
To view the full starting lineup, which also includes player analysis for Kole Calhoun, Carson Kelly, Nick Ahmed, Jake Lamb, Kevin Cron, Stephen Vogt, Domingo Leyba, Ildemaro Vargas, Tim Locastro and Josh Rojas, subscribe now to FullTime Fantasy.
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READ MORE: 2020 Arizona Diamondbacks Team Outlook
SP1 Madison Bumgarner
Bumgarner had a rebound in his command (1.9 walks per nine and 8.8 strikeouts per nine), but he still posted the highest ERA (3.90) of his career. His WHIP (1.127) supported an ERA closer to 3.40 while still battling home runs (30 over 207.2 innings). Bumgarner allowed 26 of his home runs to right-handed batters (.258 over 605 at-bats). In April, he struggled in three of six games (4.30 ERA).