The 2009 season began with high expectations for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Even a couple highly-respected baseball analysts predicted the D-backs to win the National League Pennant and the World Series. As much of a fan as I am, even I had to think that a World Series ring might be a bit overzealous, but nonetheless there was no denying that Arizona had the talent to do so.
Up and down the batting order, the D-backs are loaded with young superstar talent:
Center fielder Chris Young, a five-tool player who became the first rookie in ML history to record 30 or more home runs and 25 or more stolen bases.
Shortstop Stephen Drew, who in 2008 became one of only a handful of shortstops to ever put up 40 or more doubles, 10 or more triples and 20 or more homers in a single season.
Right fielder Justin Upton is one of the best young players in all of baseball, and made his first of many All-Star appearances this season.
Third baseman Mark Reynolds, though the record holder for most strikeouts in a single season, is one of the leagues' top home run hitters.
First baseman Conor Jackson, a very promising talent with decent power.
Outfielder Eric Byrnes, who missed most of the 2008 season due to injury, but in 2007 put up 21 home runs and 50 stolen bases.
And corner infielder Chad Tracy, who in 2005 and 2006 hit .290 with 47 homers and 75 doubles. Unfortunately, since then Tracy has been unable to play in more than 88 games in a season due to multiple injuries.
There is no denying the talent Arizona should have on the offensive side of the ball. But perhaps Arizona's starting pitching was what scared teams most at the beginning of the season.
Brandon Webb and Dan Haren formed one of the nastiest 1-2 combinations in all of baseball, but it didn't end there for the D-backs. Doug Davis is a very good No. 3 starter, Jon Garland an effective No. 4, and young fireballer Max Scherzer was slated to be the No. 5 starter.
Yes, there was no doubt this team should be a serious contender, not only in the NL West, but in the entire National League. However, it was not meant to be for Arizona in 2009.
Ace Pitcher Brandon Webb was injured on opening day and has not pitched since.
Conor Jackson has missed most of the season with valley fever. Chris Young has had an awful season all around. Of all everyday players that qualify, Young has the worst batting average, worst on-base percentage, and lowest slugging percentage of any player in the game.
So, with the struggling offense, and a bullpen that is ranked near the bottom in every category, it is easy to see why the Diamondbacks have underperformed all season.
So D-backs fans, enjoy watching young stars Mark Reynolds and Justin Upton, and Cy Young candidate Dan Haren for the rest of the 2009 season, and then you can look forward to the 2010 campaign.
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