MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Justin Upton and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Paper

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIMarch 23, 2011

MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Justin Upton and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Paper

0 of 6

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Before the start of last season, the Diamondbacks were a trendy pick to make some noise in the NL West.  Then Brandon Webb's shoulder suffered a set-back and the season went down the toilet.

    The bullpen was atrocious, the third worst in Major League history.  The organization decided to part with strikeout king Mark Reynolds to acquire bullpen help from Baltimore.

    Kirk Gibson got the managerial job after a successful stint as the interim manager last year.  Arizona posted a winning record in August.  We'll see if that success can translate into this season.


    Pitcher Rankings

    Positional Rankings

    2011 Atlanta Braves Preview

    2011 Florida Marlins Preview

    2011 New York Mets Preview

    2011 Philadelphia Phillies Preview

    2011 Washington Nationals Preview

    2011 Chicago Cubs Preview

    2011 Cincinnati Reds Preview

    2011 Houston Astros Preview

    2011 Milwaukee Brewers Preview 

    2011 Pittsburgh Pirates Preview

    2011 St. Louis Cardinals Preview 


1 of 6

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images
    • C-  Miguel Montero- 7.25 
    • 1B- Brandon Allen- 7 
    • 2B- Kelly Johnson- 7.25 
    • SS- Stephen Drew- 7.25 
    • 3B- Melvin Mora- 7


    Miguel Montero (27) 297 AB .266 BA 36 R 9 HR 43 RBI 0 SB 

    • Montero is one of the more underrated hitting catchers in baseball.  Grant it, his numbers last year weren’t great, but he suffered a torn meniscus and never seemed to recover from it.  He’s still trying to improve his skills behind the plate.  He tends to airmail throws and has trouble blocking balls in the dirt. 


    Juan Miranda (28) 64 AB .219 BA 7 R 3 HR 10 RBI 0 SB

    • The D-Backs are going with youth at first after Adam Laroche was resigned.  Juan Miranda and Brandon Allen are battling for the vacated starting first base job.  Russell Branyan has been tearing the cover off the ball during the spring, so he's a veteran presence if Kirk Gibson wants to go that route.  Corner outfielder Xavier Nady is another option.


    Kelly Johnson (29) 585 AB .284 BA 93 R 26 HR 71 RBI 13 SB

    • Johnson broke out and set career highs in home runs, runs and RBI’s.  He started off the season blistering hot, but did cool down the stretch.  He’s a very selective hitter who can hit righties just as well as lefties.  In the field, he’s average.


    Stephen Drew (28) 565 AB .278 BA 83 R 15 HR 61 RBI 10 SB

    • Drew is a smart hitter with a disciplined approach.  He drives the ball to all fields, and turns on fastballs on the inner-half.  He’s very fluid in the field who can make any throw.


    Melvin Mora (39) 316 AB .285 BA 39 R 7 HR 45 RBI 2 SB

    Mora’s clearly on the decline, and will never be a 20 home run 100 RBI guy like he was in 2008.  He’s lost bat speed and range in the field.


2 of 6

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images
    • LF- Xavier Nady- 7 
    • CF- Chris Young- 7.5 
    • RF- Justin Upton- 8.25


    Xavier Nady (32) 317 AB .256 BA 33 R 6 HR 33 RBI 0 SB

    • He stands well off the plate and lunges toward the ball.  He uses the whole field well.  Nady is a dark horse candidate to start at first, but a shoulder surgery in 2009 has limited his arm strength.    


    Chris Young (27) 584 AB .257 BA 94 R 27 HR 91 RBI 28 SB

    • Young isn’t going to hit for average, but he’s a candidate to go 30-30 every year.  He’s the NL version of Curtis Granderson.  He loves to pound the fastball, but continues to struggle with the breaking stuff.  He plays shallow in center, but makes up for it with his speed and ability to get good jumps on the ball.


    Justin Upton (23) 495 AB .273 BA 73 R 17 HR 69 RBI 18 SB

    • Upton is a five-tool player who gets great bat speed.  He’s very aggressive at the plate and launches the ball to all fields.  Like Young, Upton strikes out a lot.  He’s a solid outfielder who’s still improving with his range. 

Starting Pitching

3 of 6

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images
    • 1. Ian Kennedy- 7.25
    • 2. Joe Saunders- 7
    • 3. Daniel Hudson- 7.25
    • 4. Barry Enright- 7
    • 5. Zach Duke- 7


    Ian Kennedy (26) 194 IP 9-10 3.80 ERA 1.20 WHIP 168 K

    • Kennedy was fairly consistent for the entire season.  He’s not flashy, but he throws a bevy of pitches.  He throws a four seam and two seam fastball.  His Vulcan changeup/splitter is his best pitch.  He’ll also toss up a spike curveball and a cutter like slider.


    Joe Saunders (29) 203 IP 9-17 4.47 ERA 1.46 WHIP 114 K

    • Saunders came over from the Angels in the Dan Haren trade.  He likes to use his running fastball on the left-half of the plate, and the cutter on the opposite half.  He changes the size and shape of his curveball, and throws a plus changeup. 


    Daniel Hudson (24) 95 IP 8-2 2.83 ERA 1.15 WHIP 84 K

    • Hudson slings the ball from a sidearm pitching slot.  His fastball has good run and sink.  He possesses a good fading changeup and a sweeping slider.  He put up some solid numbers in limited appearances, so we’ll see if the hitters can adjust to his unorthodox delivery.


    Barry Enright (24) 99 IP 6-7 3.91 ERA 1.27 WHIP 49 K

    • Enright is a contact, fly-ball pitcher.  He doesn’t throw hard, and gets hammered when he leaves his fastball up in the zone.


    Zach Duke (28) 159 IP 8-15 5.72 ERA 1.65 WHIP 96 K

    Duke is a soft tosser who hides the ball well in his delivery.  He nibbles on the corners because of his lack of velocity, but it also leads to a high walk rate.  Armando Gallaraga is another possibility for the fifth starting spot.  Watch out for pitching prospect Jarrod Parker to possibly take a spot in the rotation at the midway point.


4 of 6

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
    • RP- David Hernandez- 7
    • RP- Kam Mickolio- 7
    • RP- Sam Demel- 7
    • SU- Juan Gutierrez- 7
    • CP- J.J. Putz- 7.25


    David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio, Sam Demel

    • GM Kevin Towers completely overhauled the NL worse bullpen.  The D-Backs bullpen ERA was an abysmal 5.74, third worst in MLB history.


    Juan Gutierrez (27) 57 IP 0-6 15 SV 5.08 ERA 1.38 WHIP 47 K

    • Gutierrez pitched better down the stretch when he got an opportunity to close when Arizona parted ways with Chad Qualls.  He throws a hard fastball down in the zone, but he’s at his best when he locates his breaking pitches.


    J.J. Putz (34) 54 IP 7-5 3 SV 2.83 ERA 1.04 WHIP 65 K

    The Diamondbacks are hoping to get the 2007 Putz, when he saved 40 games and posted a 1.38 ERA.  Putz doesn’t throw as hard as he used to, but he still gets it up there in the mid-90’s.  The splitter is his out pitch.

Sizing Up the Diamondbacks on Paper

5 of 6

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images
    • C-  Miguel Montero- 7.25 
    • 1B- Brandon Allen- 7 
    • 2B- Kelly Johnson- 7.25 
    • SS- Stephen Drew- 7.25 
    • 3B- Melvin Mora- 7 
    • LF- Xavier Nady- 7 
    • CF- Chris Young- 7.5 
    • RF- Justin Upton- 8.25 


    Projected Lineup 

      1. Kelly Johnson- 7.25
      2. Stephen Drew- 7.25
      3. Justin Upton- 8.25
      4. Chris Young- 7.5
      5. Miguel Montero- 7.25
      6. Xavier Nady- 7 
      7. Melvin Mora- 7
      8. Juan Miranda- 7

    Projected Starting Rotation

    • 1. Ian Kennedy- 7.25
    • 2. Daniel Hudson- 7.25
    • 3. Joe Saunders- 7
    • 4. Zach Duke- 7
    • 5. Barry Enright- 7



    • RP- David Hernandez- 7
    • RP- Esmerling Vasquez- 7
    • RP- Sam Demel- 7
    • SU- Juan Gutierrez- 7
    • CP- J.J. Putz- 7.25


    Bench- Gerrardo Parra, Tony Abreu, Henry Blanco, Geoff Blum- 7

    Manager- Kirk Gibson- 7


    INF- 35.75

    OF- 22.75

    SP- 35.5

    RP- 7

    CP- 14.25

    MISC- 14

    Hitting- 58.5

    Pitching- 57.5

    TOTAL- 129.25


6 of 6

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The bullpen is improved, but it's still not great.  The starting rotation will have to pitch a lot of innings, but it's a young staff. 

    The Diamondbacks went out and hired Don Baylor to become the new hitting coach.  We'll see if Chris Young and Justin Upton can cut down on their strikeouts.

    There's some talent on this club, but it must improve on their 25-56 road record from last season; second worst in the NL.

     Prediction- 69-93 5th NL West