NL West: 6 Things That Must Go Right for the Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks were the surprise of baseball in 2011 and would like to solidify their dominance in 2012.
In order to repeat as NL West champions, the Diamondbacks must prove that 2011 wasn't a fluke.
The division should be much tougher in 2012.
The San Francisco Giants will finally be over their World Series hangover and should have have one of the best teams in baseball. The Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers were an utter disappointment in 2011, but should be vastly improved.
As for the San Diego Padres, while it's true that they aren't expected to be a contender, neither were the Diamondbacks in 2011.
As the 2012 MLB season gets underway, the Diamondbacks have their work cut out for them, but they have all the tools necessary to be successful.
Honorable Mention: Trevor Bauer Will Take the Baseball World by Storm—but When?
Pitcher Trevor Bauer may only be 21 years old, but he's ready to become baseball's next big thing.
Any time a pitcher is compared to Tim Lincecum, that's a good thing.
Thanks to his infectious charisma and dominating stuff on the mound, at some point during the season Bauer will take the baseball world by storm.
He won't start the season in the big leagues, but he'll end it with the big club. Prepare to be astonished.
Stephen Drew Must Return Healthy and Make an Impact on Offense
The D'Backs suffered a major blow in 2011 when shortstop Stephen Drew fell to injury.
The team showed resilience in overcoming that loss last season, but will need Drew to come back strong in 2012.
While it's true that he won't be ready for Opening Day, the D'Backs will need a healthy Drew by mid-June.
Whenever he returns to the lineup, it'll be nothing but a bonus for the D'Backs.
Trevor Cahill Must Heat Up in the Desert
Trevor Cahill won 18 games in 2010, before taking a step back to just 12 in 2011 for the Oakland Athletics.
Thanks to a surprising trade, Cahill now finds himself in an Arizona Diamondbacks jersey.
The D'Backs pitching staff is loaded from top to bottom, and Cahill will do nothing but have success in the desert.
He's only 24 years old and should feel some relief with a strong Diamondbacks offense.
He threw 200-plus innings in 2011, and Diamondbacks' fans shouldn't expect anything less in 2012.
Cahill must find his control this season to allow himself to go deep into his starts.
Chris Young Must Hit Better Than .236
Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young has immense talent, but has to be consistently good at the plate in 2012.
Young, an All-Star in 2010, batted just .236 last season.
He has above-average power and is coming off back-to-back 20-plus homer/30-plus double seasons.
There's no question Young will produce the power numbers, but this season he must focus on getting on base.
Young has never hit higher than his .257 average in 2010. He needs to hit around .270 if the D'Backs are to be contenders this season.
Look for a strong start from Young to get him off on the right foot.
Paul Goldschmidt Must Become a Star
Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is in the majors to stay. He's the embodiment of what the prototypical first baseman should be.
The 24-year-old Goldschmidt is big, strong and powerful. He will be in the thick of their lineup.
He batted .250 in 48 games in 2011, and the experience will only boost his 2012 numbers.
A full season in the majors will bring stardom Goldschimdt's way, and the D'Backs will benefit from his threatening bat.
Expect 30-35 homers and around 90 RBI from Goldschmidt in 2012.
Led by Ian Kennedy, the D'Backs Pitching Staff Must Pitch Like They Did in 2011
Ian Kennedy had a marvelous season in 2011 with a 21-4 record.
While those numbers shouldn't be expected again, Kennedy needs to win at least 16 games if the D'Backs are to make the playoffs again.
Then there is underrated stud Daniel Hudson, who won 16 games in 2011. Rounding out the rotation will be Josh Collmenter, Wade Miley and Trevor Cahill.
While Cahill is expected to produce, the D'Backs must get quality starts out of youngsters Collmenter and Miley.
Collmenter won 10 games last season, but has struggled mightily in spring training this season, allowing 21 earned runs in 16 innings.
If Collmenter continues to struggle, expect Trevor Bauer to make his MLB debut sooner rather than later.
The Diamondbacks Must Continue to Win on the Road
The Arizona Diamondbacks finished 43-38 on the road in 2011.
They were one of only four teams in the National League to finish over. 500 away from home.
In order to repeat as NL West champions, the D'Backs must have similar success in 2012.
Notable road trips include their first of the season, a six-game jaunt against the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies. It'll be a true test to see if this edition of the D'Backs is ready to pick up where they left off in 2011.
Other trips worthy of mention include a 10-game trip in late July and early August, and a 10-game trip in late August and early September.
The latter trip is entirely against NL West opponents and will have a major impact on the NL West race.
The experience and confidence gained from winning on the road in 2011 should pay dividends for the D'Backs in 2012.