The Arizona Diamondbacks 2016 can be summed up as disappointing. Their first half saw them finish with a 38-52 record, 2-8 in their last ten, and 19.0 games back of the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants. After the additions of starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, along with second baseman Jean Segura, hopes were high that the Diamondbacks would be competitive in 2016, but the injury bug derailed those plans. Fans can officially start looking ahead to the 2017 season. The NL West truly is a two team division, with the Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers fighting for the division title. If the Diamondbacks can manage to stay healthy and get bounce-back seasons from some of their key players, this may change next year. However, it’s too late for 2016.
Diamondbacks 2016 Midseason Report
Sometimes a change of scenery is all a player needs. This cannot be more true than for Segura. After spending three and a half seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, he joined the Diamondbacks and has had a resurgence the plate. He batted a mediocre .257 in 2015, but in the first half of 2016 has a .311 average with six home runs, thirty-six RBI, and fifteen stolen bases.
He is the reliable second baseman Arizona has been looking for and anytime a team can add a .300 bat to the lineup, they do. He brings a speed element to the game as well and will keep the team out of the double play. This allows the big bats of Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb behind him to see more fastballs.
It looked like Miller was going to be a more-than-reliable second starter in the Diamondbacks rotation, but this has not been the case. Last season with the Atlanta Braves, he pitched 205.1 innings with 171 strikeouts and an impressive 3.02 ERA. He looked like a starter any up-and-coming team would want to add if given the opportunity.
This season, however, Miller has struggled, to put it lightly. He has a 7.14 ERA in just 69.1 innings, with fifty punchouts. He is on pace to pitch fewer than 150 innings this season and barely crack 100 strikeouts. At 25 years old, he can still turn things around. But if he doesn’t show some improvement before September call-ups arrive, he may finish the 2016 season in the bullpen.
Midseason Team MVP
The obvious choice for midseason MVP for the Arizona Diamondbacks would be their lone All-Star representative, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. He has firmly established himself as one of the best first basemen in the league with four straight All-Star Game appearances. His .297/15/58 stat line is proof enough that he has a prolific bat. Couple that with eleven stolen bases and a .930 OPS, and you have a franchise player.
Lamb is having an equally impressive season, and the second-year third baseman is proving he belongs in the show. He already has twenty home runs and sixty-one RBI to go with a .291 average and .983 OPS. At only 25 years old, he is only scratching the surface of what he can accomplish at this level. Don’t be surprised if the 2017 All-Star Game features more than just one Diamondback.
What to Watch for in the Second Half
Diamondbacks fans should remember that most of their everyday players are either in their first season with the team or their second full season at the MLB level. This team is young and has a very bright future. Zack Greinke had a solid 10-3 first half with a 3.62 ERA, and should return from the DL shortly. If he can carry over that success to the second half, we will see the 2015 version of him, the one that went 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA as a Dodger, again.
The youngest starting pitcher, 24-year-old Robbie Ray, had a great 2015 going 127.2 innings with 119 strikeouts and a 3.52 ERA. Although his ERA is slightly elevated (4.81) to start 2016, his strikeout numbers are up, with 115 over 97.1 innings. He may be the only member of the rotation to pitch 200 innings while also recording 200 strikeouts.
Goldschmidt and Lamb control the corner infield spots and could easily combine for sixty home runs and 225 RBI. They both have been producing at the plate while also maintaining batting averages above .290, a rare combination. Their OPS also hover around .1000 and, unless they pull a complete 180 in the second half, they will be key to this team finishing with a .500 record.
Potential call ups
Teams that finish in the basement of their divisions generally look to the future when September comes around. Many Double- and Triple-A players will get opportunities to prove they can play at the big league level. The Diamondbacks outfield is old; Michael Bourne and Rickie Weeks are both 33. Their number two prospect, 23-year-old Socrates Brito, is currently on the DL, but expect him to be joined by other up-and-coming outfielders to finish the 2016 season.
Peter O’Brien is 25 years old and is their number seven prospect. He has spent time with the Diamondbacks this season and has performed great in Triple-A, with a .315 average, ninteteen home runs, and fifty-six RBI. Another outfielder, 25-year-old Mitch Haniger, has soared through their minor league rankings this season. He began 2016 in Double-A but has played twenty-seven games in Triple-A, batting .347 with nine homers and twenty-two RBI.
Their top prospect is 24-year-old pitcher Braden Shipley. He ranks as the 59th-best prospect in baseball and has pitched well in Double-A this season, with a 3.85 ERA and 70 strikeouts over 112.1 innings. Anthony Banda was recently promoted to Triple-A and has struggled in his three starts there, but the number fourteen prospect in the Dbacks system may still get a September call up after posting a 2.12 ERA and eighty-four strikeouts over 76.1 innings in Double-A.
Teams that have under performed also tend to be sellers at the deadline, and the Diamondbacks have some intriguing prospects that could get a good return. First baseman Mike Freeman is batting .322 and has ten steals in Triple-A and, with Goldschmidt holding down that position at the big league level, they may move him. Their outfield prospect pool is also deep, so they may move the oldest of the bunch, Kyle Jensen. The 28-year-old is batting .301 with seventeen long balls and seventy-five RBI this season, and would surely bring a nice return.
The Diamondbacks are ready to put the first half in their rear view mirror and never look back. Although they are out of playoff contention this season, it is important to continue to play competitive ball and build confidence for the 2017 season. The injury bug hit them hard this year, but a healthy team that’s riddled with talent will not stay down for long.