For a team expected to compete for third place in the NL West, the Arizona Diamondbacks did well for themselves in 2013. The records may have been the same from a year ago but the way the team played through the season showed significant improvement. Today we look at what went right for the Diamondbacks and how that will likely translate to the 2014 season.
The list begins with the obvious coming out party for 1B Paul Goldschmidt. Goldy, as he’s endearingly referred to by most, exploded in 2013 for 36 home runs, 125 runs batted in, and a .302 batting average. For Goldschmidt, the numbers are career highs in what could be a long and prosperous career. It wasn’t just the pure numbers that Goldy put up that made his 2013 so memorable, it was the way in which he did so. On more than one occasion Goldschmidt came to the plate with the game on the line and delivered, not just getting a base hit to knock in the runner but going yard to end the game. There is no telling how the season would have turned out if Paul Goldschmidt had not done the things he did in 2013.
Next on our list was the emergence of lefties Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley. Both starters finished the season with double digit wins and and a sub-4.00 ERA. Corbin, 23, and Miley, 26, are likely to be the staples of the team moving forward. Questions regarding their ability to pitch late in the season were put to rest as both men tallied more than 200 innings pitched on the year and were the only Diamondbacks starters to start at least 30 games. Another off season and continued growth will only help this duo. There is really no telling how good they can be.
Another piece of the puzzle was the consistence of OF Gerardo Parra. The talented 26 year old dazzled fans with his combination of speed, range, and cannon arm. On the season Parra had 17 outfield assists with a .986 fielding percentage. That type of defensive play can mean the difference between a loss and a victory. At the plate Parra chipped in 48 runs batted in as well as going 10 for 10 at stolen bases.
Perhaps the biggest revelation for the Diamondbacks in 2013 was the youth movement which could become the biggest takeaway of the season. Youngsters including the aforementioned Parra, Miley, Corbin, and Goldschmidt were joined by up and coming players Didi Gregorius (23), A.J. Pollack (25), Adam Eaton (24), Matt Davidson (22), Chris Owings (21), and Tony Campana (27). It is a talented crop of young players which make up the cornerstone for the organization moving forward.
Gregorius took the shortstop position early in the season and never let go. Although he struggled a bit from the plate with a .252 average, the Dutch international flashed a good glove and even better arm up the middle. As the season persisted, so to did Gregorius at the plate, seemingly getting more and more confident with each passing day. Pollack led the team with 5 triples in 2013 while chipping in 12 stolen bases. The young center fielder displayed solid defense patrolling the vast outfield at Chase Field and held his own at the plate with a solid .269 average. Pollack and Parra were joined by Adam Eaton in the outfield to make the formidable and young outfield. Eaton finished the season with a respectable .252 average in just under 70 games this season. A healthy Eaton in 2014 will no doubt push for a starting spot in the outfield against who ever management may bring in.
Owings, Davidson, and Campana joined the club towards the end of the season and featured in less than a fifth of the games. Davidson is a strong and hard hitting third basemen who is believed to be the heir apparent to the position heading into next season. The young third baseman finished the season with just a .237 average in his first go around against major league pitching. An off season to work on his mechanics at the plate should do wonders for Davidson. Owings ended the season hitting .291 in just 55 at bats. The quick middle infielder seems like a candidate for the second base job next season which was occupied by Aaron Hill in 2013. Owings flashed the glove in his limited playing time with a .984 fielding percentage while committing just 1 error in 62 chances this season. That is the type of play you need from your middle infielder moving forward. Rounding up the bunch is Campana. The 27 year old outfielder stole 8 bases and hit .261 in just 29 games this season. The speed of which Campana plays provides an electricity whenever he is on the field. Even with the relatively low batting average, Campana had a knack for getting on base, posting a .370 on base percentage placing him second behind the MVP candidate Goldschmidt. 2014 will likely see a spike in playing time for the exciting Campana which can only lead to good things for the Diamondbacks offense.
2013 served its purpose for manager Kirk Gibson and the Arizona organization moving forward. They discovered the youth movement was more than just potential and can be relied on moving forward to provide as the basis of their success. Of course, moves will need to be taken to strengthen the team overall as the Diamondbacks are eager to taste the postseason once again. 2014 will tell if this team is ready for the big time.