In part two of this article, we'll take a look at Arizona's lineup. While it does lack the offensive firepower of both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies, it features a slew of talented young players just waiting to break out.
Justin Upton has shown flashes of greatness, launching a tape-measure shot last year into the Friday's in upper left field at Chase. This guy has serious talent and serious pop in his bat. He can put a charge into balls and is projected to be a perennial 30 HR guy. He just needs to translate his hot start from April last year into a full season.
Stephen Drew has already established himself as one of the more exciting players at his position in the National League. He can clearly handle the bat, launching 21 homers, while batting .291.
Drew needs to show just a little more patience at the plate, which seems to be a trend with the whole lineup. He also flashes the leather at short, and a Gold Glove could be in his immediate future.
Mark Reynolds enjoyed what you could call a successful season, hitting 28 home runs while driving in 97. The problem with his season is that he batted a mere .239 while striking out a ML-record 204 times. If Reynolds can cut down his strikeouts and raise his walks, he could be a very good hitter for years to come.
The guy clearly has pop. He also has a glove, despite a league-leading season in errors for third basemen. He shows excellent range and gets to balls that most others can't.
Conor Jackson shows possibly the best discipline at the plate, getting on base at a .376 clip. He brings good defense as well, being able to slot in at left filed or first base. That also depends on if Eric Byrnes gets to the level he was at a couple years ago, when he launched more than 20 home runs and stole 50 bases.
Byrnes is currently the fourth outfielder, with Chad Tracy in at first base. Tracy will give you double digit home runs and a decent average, but his game is nothing to get too excited over.
Chris Young slates in as the center fielder, and was the key player in the deal a few years ago that sent Javier Vazquez to the Chicago White Sox. Young was great in his first year, coming just three steals shy of a 30/30 season. Young is a better hitter than his low average has indicated thus far.
If he can return to a high level, the Diamondbacks will have some speed at second base that they didn't have last year with Orlando Hudson, who moved over to the division rival Dodgers. Lopez also should stay healthy for the entire year, something that Hudson has failed to do the past few years.
The thing is, with an offense like this, you can never really tell. They could be one of the league's more exciting offenses, with a lot of guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark.
On the other side, they could also strike out a ton, and bat badly and get on base infrequently, which was the case last year.
If they can mature as young hitters, this team has the pitching and defense to win the division.