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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Arizona Diamondbacks

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Continuing their up-and-down history that has included five first-place finishes to go along with four last-place finishes in 14 years, the Diamondbacks went from worst to first last year, capitalizing on several breakthrough performances on their way to 94 wins.

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The biggest development for them was the emergence of a pitching staff in the void left by Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson stepped up as legitimate frontliners, with Kennedy finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting. The duo got help in the form of Joe Saunders, whose pitch-to-contact approach fared better in the NL than the AL, and Josh Collmenter, whose deceptive delivery allowed his numbers to exceed his stuff. The offseason acquisition of Trevor Cahill only adds to the mix.

But while Kennedy, Hudson and Cahill all profile as top-of-the-rotation arms, they're not necessarily the best the organization has to offer. Trevor Bauer, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft, figures to take the majors by storm at some point this season, and with high-upside hurlers Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley right behind him, pitching figures to be the Diamondbacks' strength for years to come.

Fortunately, they already have a solid nucleus in place offensively -- one led by Justin Upton, who finally appears to have turned the corner and emerged as a perennial five-category player. Chris Young is a power-speed threat in his own right, and Miguel Montero is one of the 10 best offensive catchers in the game. If Stephen Drew can return from the fractured ankle that sidelined him for the second half last year, then the current iteration of the Diamondbacks lineup will look even deeper than the one that played in the NLDS last year -- and that's assuming slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt doesn't quite live up to his crazy minor-league numbers.

Yes, for all that went right for the Diamondbacks last year, they still have nowhere to go but up, giving Fantasy owners the promise of high-end talent for both the short- and long-term.

Bust ... Ryan Roberts, 3B

Roberts' rise to Fantasy prominence last year was about as unlikely as they come, which is reason enough to question whether or not he can do it again. After all, if a near 20-20 season was really a likely scenario for him, he wouldn't have been a minor-league journeyman. But going beyond just common sense, you can't overlook the fact that his breakout season hinged on an unsustainably hot April in which he hit .313 with a 1.007 OPS. He hit .239 the rest of the way. Power and speed numbers aside, if his batting average is lagging right out of the gate, the Diamondbacks have little reason to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's already 31. It's not like he's any sort of building block. With higher-upside third basemen like Ryan Wheeler and Matt Davidson quickly rising through the minor-league system, Roberts is on a shorter leash than his ranking would have you believe. He's a player to draft only if he falls to you late.

Sleeper ... Jason Kubel, OF

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Think back to 2009, when Kubel hit .300 with 28 homers and a .907 OPS. Hasn't been the same since then, has he? You know what else hasn't been the same since then? The Twins' home ballpark. Back then, it was the Metrodome, a hitter's haven where Kubel put together an OPS about 100 points higher than on the road in both 2008 and 2009. In the two years since, it's been Target Field, a park geared more toward pitching. The connection is easy to see, which is why the Diamondbacks were willing to give Kubel a two-year deal this offseason. They play in a hitter's park, much like the Metrodome, and recognize that a 29-year-old like Kubel is still young enough to salvage whatever he lost to expansive Target Field. Given his improvement against left-handed pitchers last year, a full season of at-bats could feasibly return Kubel to the 25-homer range. It's a reasonable enough possibility that he's worth a late-round flier in mixed leagues.

Impact prospect ... Trevor Bauer, SP

True, Bauer was drafted only a year ago, and yeah, he has just seven minor-league starts to his name, but he comes from UCLA with so much poise and polish that the Diamondbacks were planning to let him audition for the final rotation spot before bringing back Joe Saunders late in the offseason. Bauer gives the "student of the game" moniker a whole new meaning, studying concepts like biomechanics, effective velocity and pitch tunneling in an effort to maximize his delivery, and considering he's often compared to Tim Lincecum, he has apparently done just that. Though his quick promotion to Double-A last year didn't go so well, he was coming off a heavy workload in college and still demonstrated incredible strikeout ability. Given his history and pedigree, Bauer won't need long to maximize his potential. If Collmenter doesn't pan out or some other pitcher suffers an injury, Bauer will get the call midseason, and when he does, he'll be an immediate contributor in Fantasy.

2012 Arizona Diamondbacks Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Stephen Drew SS 1 Ian Kennedy RH
2 Aaron Hill 2B 2 Daniel Hudson RH
3 Justin Upton RF 3 Trevor Cahill RH
4 Miguel Montero C 4 Joe Saunders LH
5 Chris Young CF 5 Josh Collmenter RH
6 Jason Kubel LF Alt Wade Miley LH
7 Paul Goldschmidt 1B
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Ryan Roberts 3B CL J.J. Putz RH
Top bench options SU David Hernandez RH
R Gerardo Parra OF RP Brad Ziegler RH
R Willie Bloomquist UTL RP Takashi Saito RH
R Lyle Overbay 1B RP Craig Breslow LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Trevor Bauer 21 SP Double-A Double-A
The third overall pick in the 2011 draft has knockout stuff and a workhorse mentality. He could be to the Diamondbacks this year what Tim Lincecum was to the Giants in 2007.
2 Tyler Skaggs 20 SP Double-A Triple-A
The prize of the Dan Haren deal would be the ace of most systems, but he has to play second fiddle to Bauer with the Diamondbacks. He's a year further away, too.
3 Adam Eaton 23 OF Double-A Triple-A
Eaton is a player in the Shane Victorino mold: small stature, but big numbers, both in the minors and the AFL. He's an injured outfielder away from being a surprise contributor.
4 Matt Davidson 20 3B Class A Double-A
Davidson profiles as a middle-of-the-order hitter, but with perhaps the same shortcomings that Mark Reynolds had. Still, you could do worse in long-term keeper leagues.
5 Archie Bradley 19 SP Rookie Class A
Bradley went off the board four picks after Bauer in the 2011 draft and has nearly as much upside. But obviously, at age 19, he's a few years from contributing.
Best of the rest: Wade Miley, SP; Chris Owings, SS; A.J. Pollock, OF; Patrick Corbin, SP; Bryan Shaw, RP; David Holmberg, SP; Bobby Borchering, 1B; Ryan Wheeler, 3B; Marc Krauss, OF; Charles Brewer, SP; David Nick, 2B; Yonata Ortega, RP; and Keon Broxton, OF.

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Player News
Jay Bruce homers twice, drives in three
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/21/2014) Reds outfielder Jay Bruce sandwiched two solo homers around an RBI single in a 7-2 win Sunday over the Cardinals. Bruce, hitting .217, is up to 18 homers and 65 RBI.

Lance Lynn fans nine in defeat
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/21/2014) Cardinals starter Lance Lynn struck out nine over six innings Sunday, but took the loss in a 7-2 defeat to the Reds. Lynn allowed three runs on four hits, including two homers to Jay Bruce, while walking a pair.

Now 15-10 with a 2.73 ERA, Lynn is scheduled to face Arizona on Saturday.


Alfredo Simon registers 15th win
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/21/2014) Reds pitcher Alfredo Simon improved to 15-10 Sunday with six strong innings in a 7-2 win over the Cardinals. Simon allowed two runs on seven hits, striking out three and walking two, and lowered his ERA to 3.34.

Simon had gone seven innings in four of his previous five starts, and he owned a 17-inning scoreless stretch before the Cards scored in the fifth. He'll take on the Pirates at home Saturday.


Royals done sitting Billy Butler
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Though Billy Butler looked like he may have lost his DH job to Josh Willingham for the first couple weeks after Eric Hosmer returned from a hand injury, Royals manager Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star Sunday that the longtime Royal will play every day the rest of the way.

Butler went 2 for 4 with an RBI Sunday against the Tigers. It was just his sixth start in the team's last 15 games.


Jed Lowrie exits after getting hit in foot
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Athletics shortstop Jed Lowrie was hit in the foot by a pitch in his first at-bat Sunday against the Phillies, but the Athletics didn't remove him from the game until the fifth inning. Nick Punto took his place.

"He's all right," manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com. "Just got it pretty good on the foot. As a shortstop you have to have your range, and on the ball in the hole he was having a little trouble getting over there."

Lowrie is day to day.


Xander Bogaerts should be back Tuesday
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who left Sunday's game with a stiff neck, should be back in the lineup Tuesday against the Rays, according to the Providence Journal. The injury was the aftereffect of him getting hit by a ricocheted ball in batting practice.

Though Bogaerts is having a so-so rookie season, he has been terrific in September, batting .312 (24 for 77) with four home runs and an .840 OPS.


Pedro Alvarez could return for postseason
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Though Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who hasn't played since Sept. 5, has been ruled out for the rest of the regular season, he could potentially return for the NLDS if the Pirates advance that far, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune. The Pirates are currently tied with the Giants for the top wild card spot.

Alvarez had lost his starting third base job to Josh Harrison even before the injury, but he had begun transitioning to first base, making five starts there.


Jason Heyward has swelling in the thumb
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, who was out of the lineup for a third straight game Sunday against the Mets because of a thumb injury, hasn't been able to grip a bat yet because of swelling in the thumb, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He remains day to day.

Chaz Roe designated for assignment
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) The Yankees designated right-hander Chaz Roe for assignment Sunday. Roe made three appearances for them in September, allowing two earned runs on three hits and three walks in two innings.

Astros relievers have hurt obliques
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/21/2014) According to the Houston Chronicle, Astros relievers Darin Downs and Josh Fields are both nursing oblique injuries. Because Downs aggravated a previous injury, he could possibly miss the rest of the season.

Downs last pitched in a game Friday. Fields, who was beginning to earn some save opportunities, hasn't pitched since Sept. 9.


 
 
 
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