Led by NL Manager of the Year Kirk Gibson, the Arizona Diamondbacks were MLB's 2011 Cinderella story.
Plagued by a last-place NL West finish the year before, a payroll cut between 2010 and 2011 and the lack of a marked superstar on the roster, last year's Diamondbacks squad confirmed to the baseball world that improbable turnarounds do happen.
In all six divisions this upcoming 2012 season, there is a 2011 Diamondbacks story just waiting to happen.
From the AL West to the NL East, these are the six teams that could be the D-Backs of 2012.
In selecting these six squads, the following four criteria were considered:
No. 1: A disappointing finish in 2011. The team needn't have finished in last place in its division, but teams with greater ground to make up—and a propensity for that possibility—were at an advantage in this selection process.
No. 2: A payroll cut or low projected payroll for 2012. The payroll might be lower than the average of the majority of teams in the same division or league, or the team might have downsized its expenditures this offseason. Certain payroll data from USA Today.
No. 3: Unconventional roster. The team may not have produced much buzz this offseason or may lack a bona fide superstar on the roster. Alternatively, the team may have been active these past few months and acquired a big name or two. The team may be going through various changes on or off the field in regards to management, with unpredictable affects.
No. 4: Low expectations for 2012. The 2011 Diamondbacks were expected to finish at or around the fifth-place mark in the NL West. By and large, very few analysts were predicting a 2011 NL West championship for the franchise. Likewise, another important criterion for this list is a set of low expectations heading into 2012.