Diamondbacks Players with Most Pressure to Replace Justin Upton's Production

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Diamondbacks Players with Most Pressure to Replace Justin Upton's Production
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Justin Upton and Aaron Hill

After much speculation and deliberation, 2012 Diamondbacks corner outfielder Justin Upton was traded alongside third baseman Chris Johnson to the Atlanta Braves, where he joins brother B.J. and Jason Heyward in what is shaping up to be an impressive outfield in Georgia.

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, the pressure is on to fill the vacuum left in the wake of the club's high-profile unloading of Upton and fellow former outfielder Chris Young.

So just who exactly will feel the pressure in 2013?

 

Aaron Hill

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With Upton out of the picture, Hill is the only returning Diamondbacks player to have played in a majority of the club's games (Hill played in 156) while batting over .300 (Hill hit .302) and logging an OPS in excess of .850 (Hill hit .882).

With 26 home runs in 2012, Hill ranked second to Jason Kubel's 30 and led the team with 184 hits, 44 doubles, six triples and ranked second to none other than Upton with 93 runs scored.

 

Jason Kubel

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Though Hill may be the most statistically logical choice, Kubel is the most practical. He joined the club during Upton Rumor Watch 2012 and may therefore be seen as Upton's true replacement, regardless of the left vs. right field argument.

As a more than capable outfielder, Kubel produced at Upton-esque levels, leading the team's home run chase while finishing third in both doubles and triples. As a career .268/.334/.467/.800 hitter, Kubel has some—but not much—work to do to replicate Upton's own .278/.357/.475/.832 line.

Simply because Kubel and Upton played nearly the same position in 2012, Kubel will likely be the first big name thrown into the 2013 pressure cooker.

 

Cody Ross

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The pressure is always on the new guy, huh? Ross joins Arizona after short stints at the MLB and Triple-A levels of the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants franchises, a signing out of necessity following the Young and Upton departures.

When D-Backs fans view their 2013 outfield and see Cody's face, the pressure will be on Ross—a career .262 hitter with an OPS of .783—to perform.

 

A.J. Pollock

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With Gerardo Parra leading the Diamondbacks' right field depth chart, the logical question might be, "why not Parra?"

Parra has proven himself not to be Upton-caliber—his career .732 slugging percentage is exactly 100 points below Upton's and his 2012 season was worse than the year before. Simply put, the pressure is not on Parra because the expectations for Parra are not especially high.

Meanwhile, Pollock as the No. 2 man in right field is an unknown, a minor league journeyman whose cup-of-coffee at Chase Field in 2012 produced a .247/.315/.395/.710 line that shows signs of improvement—after all, Pollock maintained a .318 batting average at Triple-A Reno, improving on his .307 mark in Double-A.

Pollock's rookie season will be pressure-packed without a doubt because unlike Parra, Pollock has the unique opportunity to make a name for his untested, unmolded self. 

 

Heath Bell

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After a disappointing 2012 season, Arizona acquired Bell from the Miami Marlins in the three-team deal that sent Young to the Oakland Athletics. The pressure will be on for Bell precisely because of his 2012 woes—namely his 5.09 ERA and 1.56 WHIP—and because he will be compared to Chris Young.

No, not the Chris Young who struggled in 2012, but 2010 NL All-Star Chris Young who batted a career-high .257 with a .793 OPS, the same Chris Young who hit three home runs and stole two bases during the 2011 NLDS versus Milwaukee.

A pitcher? Absolutely.

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