2nd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Arizona Diamondbacks

Up next in our preview of all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2016 season is the NL West, with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who came in third place last season, up first for the division

The Diamondbacks had one of the better offseasons of all the teams in Major League Baseball this winter, beefing up their starting rotation by signing coveted free-agent SP Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract and acquiring SP Shelby Miller from the Braves in a trade. They also made a trade with the Brewers that saw Arizona get SS Jean Segura. They did have to get rid of some players to acquire Miller and Segura, sending SP Chase Anderson and veteran 3B Aaron Hill to Milwuakee, while RF Ender Inciarte and SS Dansby Swanson — the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2015 — are now part of the Braves organization. So they sacrificed their future somewhat and spent a lot of money on Greinke to try to win now. They haven’t had a winning season since 2011 so they’re trying to continue the positive trajectory they’re on, having won 79 games last season after having just 64 wins in 2014.

The Diamondbacks had the third-best average (.264) in the National League in 2015, but were right around the league average with 154 home runs. Leading the offense was NL MVP runner-up 1B Paul Goldschmidt, who hit .321 with 33 home runs and 110 RBI. OF A.J. Pollock had the best season of his young career, hitting .315 with 20 home runs and 76 RBI. Segura should give the Diamondbacks a better average from the shortstop position, replacing SS Nick Ahmed, who hit .226 last season, but providing a little less power than Ahmed. Adding Greinke and Miller will provide a better top of the rotation for the Diamondbacks, to improve upon the team’s 4.04 ERA from 2015. On his way to finishing second in NL Cy Young voting last year, Greinke went 19-3 for the Dodgers while posting a career-best 1.66 ERA and 200 strikeouts in 222.2 innings. For the Braves, Miller pitched well, with a 3.02 ERA and 171 strikeouts in 205.1 innings, but went just 6-17 because of a lack of run support from the offense. With the Diamondbacks’ offense helping him this season, he should have a much improved record if he can come close to reproducing the numbers he put up last season.

The offense should be comparable to what it was last season, but the starting rotation is where the Diamondbacks should see a vast improvement this season. Greinke is bound to regress a bit this season because it’ll be hard to match his performance from last season, but even if he adds a run to it, which would be significant regression, a 2.66 ERA would still be almost a run better than any starter’s ERA last season. Then add in Miller and his career 3.22 ERA, and you have one of a strong 1-2 combo at the top of the rotation, which takes some of the pressure off of the other starters in the rotation. There are questions about what kind of production they’ll get out of closer Brad Ziegler, who had one of the best seasons of his career in 2015 but he is now 36 so if age starts to catch up to him, that could hurt the bullpen. But the Diamondbacks signed RP Tyler Clippard last month to be the setup guy, and he has closing experience so he could step into the ninth-inning role if Ziegler struggles.

The Diamondbacks vastly improved their team this offseason, vaulting them into contention in the NL West. Signing Greinke away from the Dodgers hurts them, but the Giants improved themselves this winter, likely putting those three teams in contention to win the division, but I think the Giants and Diamondbacks have the best shot to unseat the Dodgers and win the West in 2016.

Be sure to check back every day at 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.dbacks.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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