It’s the first week of March, and with that brings our first taste of Spring Training baseball. Truly an amazing time of year for baseball fans as every team is technically still in the playoff race, and many fantasy drafts are in full swing. This is also when Major League Fantasy Sports breaks out our pre-season Team Previews. Each writer provides their perceived out season outlook in both real life and fantasy impact. Today, I take a look at the…
Starting in 2014, a new regime began in the desert. Tony LaRussa was hired as Chief Baseball Officer. He brings in his buddy Dave Stewart to be his VP-General Manager and Chip Hale to take over as manager. The transformation began and the Diamondbacks were surprisingly competitive in 2015 despite a suspect rotation. This past offseason, the strategy appears to be focused on improving that beleaguered pitching staff. It’s hard to compete with the Dodgers and Giants if you can’t pitch. The Dbacks already boasted arguably the two best hitters in the National League West, Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock. Now it was time to make a statement and jump in on the “arms” race. How did they do? Was the price worth it? These questions won’t truly be answered until the end of the season, but there is a lot to like about this year’s team if you are a fan of the team or if you are a fantasy owner.
Notable Off-Season Additions:
RHP Zack Greinke (FA signing)
RHP Shelby Miller (acquired from ATL)
SS/2B Jean Segura (acquired from MIL)
RHP Tyler Wagner* (acquired from MIL)
RHP Tyler Clippard (FA signing)
Notable Off-Season Subtractions:
RHP Jeremy Hellickson (traded to PHI)
RF Ender Inciarte (traded to ATL)
RHP Aaron Blair* (traded to ATL)
SS Dansby Swanson* (traded to ATL)
RHP Chase Anderson (traded to MIL)
3B/2B Aaron Hill (traded to MIL)
SS Isan Diaz* (traded to MIL)
RHP David Hernandez (FA signed with PHI)
*Denotes Player is a prospect or retains Rookie eligibility
Breakdown of Off-Season Moves:
Well… Mission accomplished. Adding Greinke and Miller to the top of their rotation certainly will make an immediate impact on the NL West standings. In 2015, Greinke (9.3 WAR) and Miller (3.6 WAR) would represent a significant improvement of wins above replacement for pitchers. These two moves alone could make them more competitive within the division as well as the Wild Card.
Greinke cost a ton of money, but that doesn’t appear to be a concern for the Arizona brass. Paying him over $35M when he is 35 and 36-old-year, could become an albatross to the payroll. However, he should be a legit ace in the desert for the next few years.
Clippard was a nice add as an experienced arm in the back of the bullpen. Although he was effect last season, I’m not convinced Ziegler has a long leash as closer, especially since he doesn’t strike many guys out (6.4 K/9 in 2015).
Segura has been pretty bad the last two seasons. His average has dropped nearly 50 points since his All-Star season of 2013. He also dropped from 44 SBs in 2013 to 20 in 2014 and 25 in 2015. This was a huge risk in my opinion, but Dave Stewart must believe he can get him back to his old form. Maybe a change of scenery will help, but I’m not convinced. For a speed guy, he doesn’t get on base. This makes it hard to impact the game with your speed if you aren’t on base.
And then there is Shelby Miller…
I like the aggressive moves. You have to give up talent in order to get talent. Miller is young, cheap and controllable for the next three seasons. But damn, the price was steep. Dansby Swanson is about as polished as a prospect with less than a year of pro ball can be. Without a long-term solution at SS, it is surprising to me that they would trade him as part of this deal. They also sent Ender Inciarte who had a great season last year (.303 avg, 21 SB and 10% K rate). I get including Ender since they had depth in the OF but Swanson very well may come back to hurt them. Especially since they sent their 2nd best SS in their system (Isan Diaz) to Milwaukee in the Segura trade.
Projected 25 Man Roster
Projected Batting Order:
- A.J. Pollock (R) – CF
- Jean Segura (R) – 2B
- Paul Goldschmidt (R) – 1B
- David Peralta (L) – RF
- Yasmany Tomas (R) – LF
- Jake Lamb (L) – 3B
- Wellington Castro (R) – C
- Nick Ahmed (R) – SS
Projected Opening Day Bench:
- Chris Owings (R) – 2B/SS
- Tuffy Gosewisch (R) – C
- Socrates Brito (L) – OF
- Pete O’Brien (R) – C/OF
- Phil Gosselin/Brandon Drury (R) – INF
Breakdown of Position Players:
A.J. Pollock had a breakthrough season last year that has him as a top-ten fantasy hitter in virtually any scoring format. He is a true five-tool threat as wrapped up his amazing season with a Gold Glove. Pair him with Paul Goldschmidt (NL MVP Runner Up, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger) and you have an incredible offensive potential in this lineup. In fact, throw in David Peralta, the Diamondbacks had three regulars with an OPS over .865.
The projected lineup above is what I think Coach Hale will run out there day-in, day-out. The roster is very heavy right-handed which is why I think Socrates Brito makes the team out of camp. I like him as a sleep this year as he’s the only lefty off the bench and can play any OF position if needed. I like his hit tool and he could potential hit 10-15 HRs and steal 20-25 bases. He could get a regular chance if Tomas doesn’t pan out of if there is an injury. His saber-metrics aren’t great and he could probably use the every day at bats in AAA. He strikeouts over 20% and doesn’t walk, but the tools are tempting. Keep him on your radar in deeper leagues.
I don’t know if I like Segura in the 2 Hole in this lineup. When you get on base only 29% of the time, you should be better at the bottom of the lineup. If he struggles in the Spring, I would like to see them keep Brandon Drury to play 2B and move Segura over to SS. Drury would be a solid #2 hitter and would field the position well enough to keep Ahmed on the bench. They aren’t going to bench Segura but they can bat him down in the order and this would actually lengthen their lineup.
Last thought here…I like Peter O’Brien to make the team because it seems that they are going to give him another shot to catch. His bat offers a lot more than Tuffy does so running him out their on Castillo’s off days make a lot of sense if they want to keep a long lineup. He would also be a candidate to DH when needed or play in LF in a pinch.
Overall, this should be the best lineup in the NL West in 2016.
Projected Opening Day Rotation:
- Zack Greinke
- Shelby Miller
- Patrick Corbin
- Rubby DeLaRosa
- Robbie Ray
Projected Opening Day Bullpen:
- CL – Brad Ziegler
- SU8 – Tyler Clippard
- SU7 – Daniel Hudson
- MR – Silvino Bracho
- MR – Andrew Chaffin
- MR – Randall Delgado
- LR – Josh Collmenter
Breakdown of Pitching Staff:
The rotation has improved considerably with the new additions at the top. This allows guys like Corbin and DelaRosa to pitch in the third and fourth slots which they are more suited. I like both those guys better in real baseball than in fantasy, but they are nice depth starters in leagues of 14 teams or more.
The bullpen has also solidified with the addition of Clippard and a healthy Daniel Hudson. He has settled in to his role as a reliever and the backend of the bullpen is now formidable. It is a little unique with strike out pitchers in the seventh and eight, and then Ziegler coming out for the ninth. His crazy ground ball rate (73%) keeps him out of trouble as he can get runners in double plays and doesn’t give up the long ball. He should be helpful for saves but not a lot more in terms of fantasy value.
One name to keep an eye out on, Silvino Bracho. He had short stint in Arizona last year (13 appearances) and was lights out. The 23-year-old should make the team out of camp and will likely pitch the middle innings. If he shows the same stuff as last year (1.46 ERA, 1.054 WHIP, 34% K rate, 8% BB rate), he will move into more high leverage roles. He has the stuff to be a dominate closer but probably won’t take over there this season with Ziegler and Clippard still in front of him. He should be rostered in deep leagues and dynasty leagues. Watch him take the league by storm this year. Andrew Chaffin is another young arm (24-years-old) that should give the Diamondbacks quality innings and production in middle relief. If your fantasy league requires 5+ relievers or middler relievers in general, he won’t hurt you in any category and will be a solid contributor. Don’t sleep on him in deeper leagues.
Spring Position Battles:
As I mentioned above, the Closer job may change heads a few times during the course of the season. I don’t see it being a battle in Spring Training. Barring injury, Ziegler is the man. The fifth starter spot is very much up for grabs and the middle infield is as crowded as the Republican Presidential candidates.
- Robbie Ray
- Archie Bradley
- Tyler Wagner
- Zack Godley
This is Robbie Ray’s job to lose. He has the most experience and despite his ugly 5-12 record, he pitched to the tune of a 3.52 ERA, 3.53 FIP and 8.4 K/9. This is nice production from your #5 Starter. I would imagine the team would like to see Archie Bradley take this job at some point this season, but with only 14 total starts last year (minors and Arizona) he could use some more reps in AAA to get his control, well, under control. Godley pitched well in limited action last year and should see some starts throughout the year, he will likely jump back and forth from Reno unless there is a significant injury. Wagner is a nice addition for organizational depth. He had a rough few starts last year for the Brewers (3 GS, 13.1 INN, 7.24 ERA, 4.89 FIP, 7.5% K Rate, 10.5% BB rate). He may be better suited for the bullpen, but could make spot starter along the way.
Bottom Line… I expect Ross to win this job and hold it for most if not all season. If Bradley pitches lights out in AAA, he might force Arizona’s hand.
- Jean Segura
- Nick Ahmed
- Chris Owings
- Brandon Drury
The only thing I know for sure, Segura is playing nearly every day. Not because I think he will be that great, but they traded a number of pieces for him and that shows some commitment to allowing him to work out any issues he might have. Most likely, he will be playing 2B and the slick fielding Ahmed plays SS. Chris Owings becomes the UTL guy that subs in for either position. Owings have not proven to have the hitting prowess that he was suspected of as a prospect, so a hot Spring by Brandon Drury could push Owings out of Arizona completely. Drury, a 3B prospect, has taken enough reps at 2B last season that he could make that transition easily. He would represent a more consistent production than Ahmed and plays better defense than Owings or Segura. If this was my team…I would break camp with Drury as your every day 2B, Segura as your SS and Ahmed as your backup at either and defensive replacement.
Get Pollock, Goldy, Greinke and Peralta on your fantasy teams. Watch out for Socrates Brito, Archie Bradley and Silvino Bracho.
The Diamondbacks will be much improved this season. However, I don’t know if its enough to overtake the Dodgers and Giants in the division. I see a ten game improvement (89-73), but still 3rd place finish in the NL West. They should stay in the Wild Card chase into the final week, but the teams like the Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs, Mets and Nationals could all win 90+ games and see Arizona fall just short. Should be fun in the desert this Summer.
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday March 3rd, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #3 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. We will discuss player positions and help prepare you for the coming draft season. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Our topic this week will be 1st base and 3rd base players to target or avoid this year.
Our guests this week are Zak Sauer and Eric Paulen. Zak is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com as well as an owner in MLFB and MLFF leagues. Zak’s articles publish every Thursday. Eric is an Emmy and Peabody Award winner with significant experience leading large film/video production projects spanning all genres of television. Eric has been successful at building and directing production teams in developing and implementing programming content for diverse audiences with well-known television networks and brands, including A&E, ESPN, HBO Sports, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, The Travel Channel, WWE Network, The NBA, NHL Productions, NFL Films, and NCAA.
Come join a lively debate!
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday March 6th, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will help you build a better bullpen and we will also discuss catcher options for 2016.
This week’s guests are Joe Iannone and Mike Stromme. Joe is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com and you can check his articles out every Sunday. Mike is also a writer with MLFS and he is also the assistant editor.