R.I.P., 2013 Arizona Diamondbacks
The D-backs have been officially eliminated from playoff contention. Let us give them a proper goodbye.
The Diamondbacks surprised a lot of us when they won the NL West in 2011. Since then, however, they've been a fairly mediocre outfit. Now that they've officially been eliminated from postseason contention, let's have a mournful look back at their latest mediocre outfit -- the 2013 D-backs ...
What went right
The 25-year-old Paul Goldschmidt churned out an MVP-caliber season. Aaron Hill was excellent when healthy, and Didi Gregorius wowed with his defense, even as his bat faded. Patrick Corbin was outstanding (121 ERA+ in 199 inings for the 23-year-old), and Wade Miley avoided major regression after his standout 2012 campaign. Josh Collmenter excelled in the long-relief role for which he seems made. The team defense was a bit better than average in terms of defensive efficiency rating.
What went wrong
Ian Kennedy established a reputation as a headhunter and then pitched his way out of town. Martin Prado endured a poor first half, and Jason Kubel authored an OPS of .612 before being shipped off to Cleveland. Heath Bell quite predictably struggled in the closer's role, but manager Kirk Gibson kept doggedly running him out there.
Arizona starters ranked 10th in the NL in rotation ERA, and the bullpen led the NL in blown saves with 28 -- also good for a save percentage of 56.0. Brandon McCarthy battled injury and was generally disappointing when healthy. The D-Backs went a combined 33-37 against their NL West competitors, and they were also, in the season's final days, revealed to be a Hot Tub Whine Machine.
MVP: Goldschmidt. At presently, the Snakes' first baseman paces the senior circuit in home runs (35), RBI (121), SLG (.560), OPS+ (163) and total bases (317). As well, Goldschmidt ranks third in the NL in walks and fourth in OBP and doubles. In other words, he's done nothing but hit this season.
LVP: There's much to choose from, but I'll home in on Kubel, who, besides providing sub-par defense in the outfield, "hit" just .220/.288/.324 with five homers in 89 games before being dealt.
Free agents to be: INF Willie Bloomquist, 3B Eric Chavez, C Wil Nieves
Gameplan heading into the offseason
Rebuild the bullpen (again), and re-up with Chavez, who was productive when healthy and figures to come cheap. There's reasonable hope for rebound in the rotation as is, and there's potential depth if Tyler Skaggs continues to develop. GM Kevin Towers should, however, take a look around for an impact, middle-of-the-order outfield bat. That's, of course, easier said than done.
Ridiculously premature prediction for 2014
They'll finish no better than third in the NL West, and Gibson won't survive the year as manager.