This 2014 MLB preview will highlight likely starters at each position for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The first section will address players who should be targeted by fantasy owners in their drafts in standard 5x5 leagues. The second section will preview hitters who should not be drafted as things are right now, but who should be monitored in case their situation changes. All statistics here are courtesy of FanGraphs.
2014 Diamondbacks Lineup - Fantasy Players To Draft
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
2013 Stats - 160 games, 710 PA, 36 HR, 103 R, 125 RBI, 15 SB, .302 BA, .401 OBP
Baseball fans nationwide found out what Diamondbacks fans were already aware of in 2013-- Paul Goldschmidt is very good at baseball. He led the Diamondbacks and the National League in numerous offensive statistics last year and ultimately finished second in NL MVP voting. His strikeout rate went down from 2012 (20.4 percent, down from 22.1 percent) and his walk rate took a significant jump (13.9 percent, up from 10.2 percent). Most importantly to fantasy owners, his counting stats exploded. He drove in 16 more runs than his next closest competitors in that category in the NL, Freddie Freeman and Jay Bruce. He tied for the NL lead in HR with Pedro Alvarez at 36. He even stole 15 bases. Goldschmidt did it all and then some for the Diamondbacks and fantasy owners in 2013.
Goldschmidt was an absolute steal for most fantasy owners in 2013 as he posted MVP production after being selected in the fourth or fifth rounds in most leagues. Owners will have to pay a premium for him in 2014, but they’ll get premium production in return. He may not hit .302 with 125 RBI again, but there is no reason to believe that any kind of significant regression is coming here. His BABIP was high in 2013 at .343, but his career average BABIP is .340 to this point. Even with slight BA regression, Goldschmidt will still be a 30 HR/100 RBI guy in 2014. Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera will come off the board one and two in fantasy drafts, as is becoming tradition, and owners who are lucky enough to pick third or fourth overall need to target Goldschmidt there as he’ll be off the board after that.
2014 Fantasy Projection - 157 games, 32 HR, 95 R, 104 RBI, 14 SB, .291 BA (1st round)
Mark Trumbo - LF
2013 Stats - 159 games, 678 PA, 34 HR, 85 R, 100 RBI, 5 SB, .234 BA, .294 OBP.
Mark Trumbo gave fantasy owners a lot of production in 2013, everywhere outside of the stolen base category. The one area of concern is the .234 batting average, which is a significant drop-off from the .268 mark he set in 2012. The primary reasons for this: his strikeout rate increased in 2013 to 27.1 percent (up from 26.1 percent in 2012 and 20.9 percent in 2011) and his BABIP went down to .273 (it was .316 in 2012). One may be inclined to look at these numbers and decide that Trumbo’s real value lies somewhere between his 2012 and 2013. This is likely a fair assumption, but do remember that Chase Field is a little more hitter-friendly than Angel Stadium.
Trumbo should be a top-30 outfielder in drafts for standard 5x5 leagues. He’s probably a tenth-rounder because some owners will be scared off by the .234 average he posted last year. That average will almost certainly improve this year, but also remember that Kirk Gibson likes to shuffle outfielders in and out of the lineup. Unless Arizona makes another move in the coming weeks, they have four outfielders for three spots (assuming Cody Ross comes back to full health). All this means is that Trumbo might get closer to 525 official at-bats as opposed to 600-- the Diamondbacks certainly acquired Trumbo to give him a full-time spot in LF.
With all of this in mind, Trumbo will be one of a handful of outfielders in 2014 with 30-HR potential.
2014 Fantasy Projection - 148 games, 33 HR, 82 R, 83 RBI, 5 SB, .249 BA (10th round)
Martin Prado - 3B/2B/OF
2013 Stats - 155 games, 664 PA, 14 HR, 70 R, 82 RBI, 3 SB, .282 BA, .333 OBP
Martin Prado came to the desert after the highly-publicized trade with Atlanta that sent Justin Upton to the Braves. In the first couple of months of the 2013 season, Prado’s struggles at the plate were magnified by that trade-- Upton got off to a hot start for Atlanta while Prado was hitting .217 at the end of April. Things evened out for Prado after a first half in which he ended up hitting .253 with 36 strikeouts, as he posted a .324 line with only 17 strikeouts in the second half.
Prado will not dominate in any one category, but his positional versatility (he played all over the diamond for Arizona in 2013) and lengthy hot streaks (he hit .374 in August of 2013 with 30 RBI) will merit a spot in most standard leagues in 2014. This being said, don’t pay too much for him. Some owners might only remember his second half and take him in the seventh or eighth round. As long as you’re willing to live with any cold streaks, Prado should finish 2014 as a top 10 third baseman. If he’s still on the draft board in rounds 14-15, take him there.
2014 Fantasy Projection - 155 games, 13 HR, 73 R, 65 RBI, 5 SB, .285 BA (14th round)
Aaron Hill - 2B
2013 Stats - 87 games, 362 PA, 11 HR, 45 R, 41 RBI, 1 SB, .291 BA, .356 OBP
Aaron Hill missed most of the first half of 2013 after being hit by a pitch which broke his hand in April. He came back to play in 87 games and post a very respectable .291 batting average while regaining his timing and his rhythm.
Hill is probably going to slip into rounds 18-20 in most leagues after his injury struggles in 2013. Still, he is top-ten fantasy second baseman when he’s healthy and a top-five second baseman when he’s on a hot streak. Owners in need of a second baseman should target Hill in Round 17 or 18 of their drafts, as he‘ll most likely still be on the board. Even if injury strikes again and he only plays 100 games, there is some good value here.
2014 Fantasy Projection - 126 games, 18 HR, 70 R, 67 RBI, 11 SB, .287 BA (17th round)
Miguel Montero - C
2013 Stats - 116 games, 475 PA, 11 HR, 44 R, 42 RBI, 0 SB, .230 BA, .318 OBP
Miguel Montero had provided the Diamondbacks with solid production from 2009 to 2012 before a significant drop-off in 2013. He had injury issues last year, but the catcher will also turn 31 this summer, which means that injuries can’t be blamed for all of his struggles. His 0.9 WAR was his lowest since 2008 when he appeared in only 70 games at the big-league level. The .230 average was due in part to a low .282 BABIP (his career mark is .312), but age and health are certainly becoming factors.
Montero is still Arizona‘s catcher for at least the next couple of years. He’s right in the middle of a $60M contract, and if he can indeed return to full health, he should be able to come pretty close to his production from a couple of years ago. If fantasy owners find themselves still looking for a catcher in the 20th round and later, Montero has a chance to provide decent value.
2014 Fantasy Projection - 140 games, 12 HR, 60 R, 70 RBI, 1 SB, .267 BA (20th round)
2014 Diamondbacks Lineup - Fantasy Players To Avoid
A.J. Pollock - OF
2013 Stats - 137 games, 482 PA, 8 HR, 64 R, 38 RBI, 12 SB, .269 BA, .322 OBP
AJ Pollock was not much of a factor in many fantasy leagues in 2013 due to Arizona’s crowded outfield. He split time primarily with Gerardo Parra, Cody Ross and Adam Eaton. He was still able to post 64 runs, 38 RBI and 12 SB in 482 total plate appearances, so there is reason to believe that he can provide some value.
As things stand right now in Arizona, I would hesitate to use a draft pick on Pollock. Do keep an eye on the outfield situation there, as he could provide good value if he does win a starting gig. Pollock is the kind of guy who could give owners 60 runs, 50 RBI and 15 SB off the waiver wire after the first wave of injuries crops up.
2014 Fantasy Projection - 118 games, 6 HR, 61 R, 52 RBI, 18 SB, .271 BA
Gerardo Parra - OF
2013 Stats - 156 games, 663 PA, 10 HR, 79 R, 48 RBI, 10 SB, .268 BA, .323 OBP
Gerardo Parra exhibited some insane defensive skills in 2013, which enabled him to crack the lineup for 156 of 162 of the Diamondbacks’ games (injuries also played a big part in this-- Parra has been in a platoon situation for the last couple of years). His offense was steady as his strikeout rate continued to fall, and he hit double-digit home runs for the first time in his career.
As with AJ Pollock, Parra may again be subjected to a platoon strategy in 2014. Parra does have a better shot at logging 600+ plate appearances again than he did a few weeks ago, though, with Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson (who could theoretically have pushed Martin Prado to the outfield) shipped off to the South side of Chicago. As of now, though, the Diamondbacks still have four major-league ready outfielders. If you are in some kind of league that values defense, Parra should be one of the first players you look at. In standard 5x5 leagues, owners can likely do better in the late rounds for batting statistics.
2014 Fantasy Projection - 140 games, 9 HR, 68 R, 51 RBI, 14 SB, .265 BA
Cody Ross - OF
2013 Stats - 94 games, 351 PA, 8 HR, 33 R, 38 RBI, 3 SB, .278 avg, .331 OBP
Cody Ross played fairly well for the Diamondbacks in 2013 until a freak hip injury on August 11 ended his season. His power numbers were down (1 HR/43.8 plate appearances in 2013 versus 1 HR/27.4 plate appearances for his career), but he posted the highest batting average of his career.
If Ross can return to full health in 2014 and have a season like he did with Boston in 2012, he’s worth having on your team. As of this writing, Mark Trumbo is the only Diamondbacks outfielder you should plan to acquire on draft day, but monitor Ross’s situation. If he can play his way into a full-time role again at some point, he’ll be worth grabbing off of waivers. The Diamondbacks will likely want to ease him along after what happened last year, so this may not happen until the second half of the year.
2014 Fantasy Projection - 80 games, 10 HR, 32 R, 39 RBI, 2 SB, .270 avg
Shortstop is another position where players will compete for playing time in Arizona in 2014. Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius are both expected to have a shot at the starting gig, according to the official site of the Diamondbacks.
Chris Owings was part of Arizona’s September roster expansion in 2013 and he played in 20 games, posting five runs, five RBI and two stolen bases in 61 plate appearances. Of course, 61 plate appearances is an impossibly small sample size from which to draw any meaningful conclusions. Owings did rake in Reno, posting a .330 batting average in 2013, but describing Reno’s ballpark and the Pacific Coast League as a “hitter’s paradise” is an understatement.
Didi Gregorius got off to a hot start at the plate during his first few weeks at the big-league level in 2013, but the way he finished is probably closer to what we can expect from him going forward (.252/.332/.373). Gregorius logged seven HR, 47 R and 28 RBI in 404 plate appearances. The shortstop came to Phoenix in the Trevor Bauer trade, so the Diamondbacks will probably keep trying to find ways for him to stick in the lineup for the time being.
What this all should tell fantasy owners is that neither Diamondbacks shortstop is worth a draft pick right now. If Owings wins the starting gig, he may be worth a waiver pickup during the season as he has the potential to help out with counting stats.