In a division where the Giants and Dodgers grab all the headlines the D-Backs will be overlooked by many. Yet they feature a good lineup, decent pitching and should finish enough above .500 that they could be a dark horse contender in the division. There is plenty of fantasy talent here, though most are of the two- or three-category variety rather than the four or five type.
Here are 10 to watch in 2013.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B): The only true five-category threat on the team, Goldschmidt is a heck of a ballplayer from the fantasy perspective. He made a legit run at 20-20 last year and raised his average 36 points over 2011 (to .286) while doing it. He’s got upside due to his age, but don’t overvalue him. His contact rate is a concern as is the speed, which really isn’t as good as last years numbers suggest (guys who weigh 245 rarely are real speed demons). He’ll take a step back in average, but the power could grow and the 18 bases he stole last year are almost certainly an outlier.
Adam Eaton (OF): Eaton is a long-term growth stock who’ll contribute now, but probably not as much as some would hope. He’ll hit leadoff for the Diamondbacks and should be a source of both runs and steals, but with his diminutive frame (5-feet-8) he’s not going to offer a lot of pop. With a green light and an everyday job 30 steals and ten home runs sound about right.
Miguel Montero (C): A solid choice at catcher, Montero offers 15-20 home run power coupled with average and should hit in a solid RBI slot. He won’t wow you with any of that, but will contribute across the board and will be a lot cheaper than some catchers ranked above him who won’t reach his level offensive production.
Jason Kubel (OF): Five seasons of declining contact rate certainly point to the 31-year-old Kubel as having already peaked and slowly sliding down the other side. That said he still possesses 25-30 home run power and will hit for a .260ish average. Runs and RBIs should come with the package, but a step back and even a bench spot against lefties could be in his future.
Aaron Hill (2B): Hill offers a nice combination of power and speed and should rank highly among National League second basemen. However he’s not without a little mystery such as what his batting average will look like. Pick a number between .200 and .300 and you could be right. I’ll think .270s, but your guess is as good as mine. Still for a guy who offers 20-15 upside at age 31 he’s worth a risk. Martin Prado (2B/3B/SS/OF): Prado is the Swiss Army Knife of baseball players: not a specialized tool for a single job but capable in just about any position he’s been asked to play (and may even qualify at first in some leagues). At age 30, he’s not going to suddenly break out, but he does have a solid batting average and could go 10-10 maybe a touch more, which is more than fine you miss the top handful of second base qualified players.
Heath Bell (RP): OK, I’m throwing Bell into this mix because I find this an intriguing situation. The D_Backs have a good closer in J.J. Putz, an excellent backup and closer in waiting in David Hernandez and Heath Bell, who they are paying roughy $13 million over the next two years. Something clearly doesn’t add up. If Bell is a salvage-then-sell candidate for the D-Backs he’ll have to get some save chances. If Putz is shipped out of town, Bell might get some save chances. Still, I think I’d avoid paying for him, but pick up Putz and Hernadez and keep an eye on the situation.
Ian Kennedy (SP): Kennedy is a solid pitcher who contributes across the board. He’ll strike out just under a batter per inning, post an ERA between 3.75-4.00 and turn in a solid WHIP. The D-Backs' offense should assure he gets some solid win numbers too. He’s still got time to improve but the trends don’t suggest that it’s started to happen.
Trevor Cahill (SP): Just 25 and loaded with upside, it’s hard to determine just where Cahill is going with his career. Of course if he just continues to pitch the way he did last year, he’ll have a successful Major League career and help a lot of fantasy teams. His strikeout rate is a little underwhelming at just under six per nine innings, but his groundball rate (he led the majors last year with a 61 percent rate and had a 56 percent rate in both 2010 and 2011) speaks to good win totals with a nice ERA and WHIP.
Wade Miley (SP): A lot of folks think that Miley got robbed of the NL ROY award last year, after going 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. His key to success was is to throw strikes, walk few and induce a lot of ground balls -- just like Trevor Cahill above. In fact his strikeouts per nine innings was about the same too. There is a lot to like here -- and plenty of upside too. Don’t count on him matching last years stat's, but I don’t think they are far from the mark.