Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 9/21/13
Here we are, folks: the End of Season Post-Mortem series. If you're new here (which about 50% of our reader base is in comparison to last year), here's a brief explanation: after a team is eliminated from playoff contention, we're going to put their season under a microscope and look at just what the hell went wrong, what went right, and so on and so forth. The goal is to post these the day after a team is eliminated. After an off-season of controversial trades and a team-building mantra seemingly based entirely around grit and hustle, the Diamondbacks fancied themselves contenders in the NL West. Alas their season has now come to an well short of their playoff goal. Preseason prediction: The Diamondbacks are in a really tough division. They have the largest payroll in baseball and the defending World Champions in front of them. Contending won't be easy. Assuming they stay healthy, the rotation is more consistent, and key guys take steps forward, this is a team that can absolutely challenge for a wild card spot. Once they're in the playoffs, you never know what can happen. What Went Right: From Kevin Towers' perspective the best thing that might have happened is seeing all his critics having to choke down several helpings of crow. The Arizona GM drew the ire of analysts for finally delivering on his long-promised threat to trade Justin Upton. Upton ended up being good in Atlanta, but has been far from a star-level player, just like his last few frustrating years in Arizona. While Martin Prado was underwhelming in his own right, he was still a useful player and Randall Delgado came up mid-season and performed well as a mid-rotation starter and has plenty of room to grow still. Then there was the equally panned Bauer-Gregorius trade. Again, Towers came out looking just fine as Gregorius proved to be a quality defender at shortstop and didn't have the bat completely knocked out of his hands at the plate while Bauer struggled mightily in a handful of starts for Cleveland, vindicating (for now) Towers' willingness to punt on the former first rounder. The real highlight of the season for Arizona though has to be the ascension of Paul Goldschmidt into the ranks of premier sluggers in all of baseball. With 34 homers, a .406 OBP and a 6+ WAR season, Goldschmidt vaulted himself into the conversation for NL MVP. What Went Wrong: What really cost the D'backs this year was their inability to stay healthy. While injuries are a part of life for every team, Arizona had a comparatively rough go of it. With their offensive depth already stretched coming into the year, Arizona lost Aaron Hill for half of the season, had Cody Ross and Adam Eaton both spend months on the DL and lost Miguel Montero for a few weeks as well. Things were just as bad on the pitching side with free agent signee Brandon McCarthy making just 20 starts (though that was somewhat predictable) and then not pitching all that well when healthy. Trevor Cahill spent time on the DL as did J.J. Putz which led to a very unfortunate period in which Heath Bell (one of the questionable trades Towers made that was fully deserving of the criticism) was conscripted into closing again. For the pitchers that did stay healthy, the results weren't generally all that good either. Whereas youngsters like Corbin and Delgado were excelling, more seasoned starters took steps backwards from their 2012 campaigns while Ian Kennedy continued to see his career plummet to the point where his ERA was well over 5.00 before Arizona finally cut bait and shipped him to division rival San Diego. Most Surprising Player: For years we had heard how the Angels would someday rue the Dan Haren trade they made with Arizona because they gave Tyler Skaggs. Well, the naysayers were half right. The Halos likely do regret that deal now but it is because of the "other pitcher" they included in that package, Patrick Corbin. Long tabbed as a back-of-the-rotation starter, Corbin burst onto the scene this year as a legitimate frontline starter. Currently boasting a 3.17 ERA and on pace to breach the 200-inning mark before the season ends, Corbin is set to front the young and talented Diamondback rotation for years to come. Just imagine what they could look like if/when Skaggs lives up the hype he came over with. Most Disappointing Player: With all due (lack of) respect to Jason Kubel who had one of the worst campaigns out of anyone in baseball and got himself released, this dishonor has to go to Miguel Montero. Montero wasn't nearly as bad as Kubel, but the impact of his struggles was further reaching. The D'Backs went into the season counting on Montero to be a keystone in the middle of their order, but instead got a measly .360 slugging percentage. While the Arizona defense was still solid, Montero's lack of production was a major impediment to the lineup from being elite as Arizona is currently 11th in the National League in Isolated Power, with much of that coming from the aforementioned Goldschmidt. Montero has never been a huge power threat, but dropping nearly 50 points of his career norm entering the season is a pretty significant blow, especially when the other major source of left-handed power, Kubel, saw his production dry up as well. The Future: While this season didn't play out as well as Arizona hoped, their future is still quite bright. They have a young and talented core and a legit star to build around with Goldschmidt. Now if they could just figure out a way to get those pesky Dodgers to come back to earth, they'd be in great shape. Oh, and drain the pool. Definitely drain the pool. [follow]
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