Arizona Diamondbacks: Five Player Predictions for 2017

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks will look to have a much better year in 2017 than they did in 2016. In their attempt to rebound, these are five Diamondbacks predictions for the upcoming season.

The 2016 MLB season was a rather disappointing one for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Some very big offseason transactions along with the addition of notable front office staff made it a year in which the Diamondbacks should have competed for a title. Many predicted a playoff berth. Instead, the Diamondbacks won only 69 games and were a single win above the last-place San Diego Padres.

The 2017 season has a chance to be different. Although it’s unlikely they head to the World Series, there are positives to look out for. There are also a few negatives as well with some of their top performers from last season regressing. As a generally young team, there are bright spots in many areas.

Already, new men have taken over as the team’s general manager and manager. Dave Stewart and Chip Hale have both been fired as the apparent scapegoats for the team’s poor performance. Change is afoot in the desert. Some of it is for the best. Some of it is for the worst.

This year, we should expect the Diamondbacks to at least give us a better idea of what they are. It’s a season where they need to stay less neutral and accept the losing. The 2017 campaign must be one where they either push forward or take a step back and focus on future seasons.

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Zack Greinke Finishes Second in Cy Young Award Voting

You only have one chance to make a first impression. Unfortunately, the one Zack Greinke had with the Diamondbacks last year could have gone much better.

Arizona paid Greinke big bucks in the offseason to help them contend. He was the ace they thought was needed. From the start, though, the signing looked like an absolute bust. Greinke was annihilated early on in the year. Eventually, he did piece things together. He still finished the year with a 4.37 ERA. This was nearly three runs higher than he had in 2015 when he had a remarkable 1.66 ERA as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 2017, Greinke has an opportunity to make up for the poor debut season. My prediction is he pitches well enough to finish second in the Cy Young voting. It will take a stellar season considering the stiff competition in the National League. If he can adjust to pitching at Chase Field, a place where he had a 4.81 ERA last season, Greinke should find himself back among the top pitchers in baseball.

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Jake Lamb Takes a Step Backward

Third baseman Jake Lamb broke through last season as an offensive force in the Diamondbacks lineup. He finished the season with 29 home runs and 91 RBI. The unexpected offensive outburst was only tarnished by how badly he performed later in the year.

Lamb’s first half numbers were worthy of putting him on the list of MVP candidates. The second half was an entirely different story. Lamb slashed an outstanding .291/.371/.612 pre-All-Star Break. After, he hit just .197/.283/.380. He slumped regularly against lefties too, with just a .164 batting average against them. This inconsistency to close out the season leads me to predict that Lamb takes a step backward in 2017.

Power should remain a big part of Lamb’s game next season even if he struggles to pick up hits regularly. The real struggle seems to be against left-handed pitchers. As a young MLB pup, he will hopefully figure this out. This year, in what will be only his second full season in MLB, will not be it.

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Yasmany Tomas Challenges for a Home Run Crown

The Diamondbacks finally got what they wanted from Yasmany Tomas last season: power. His home run capabilities were the reason why they signed him in the first place. After a not-so-powerful 2015 season where he hit nine home runs in 426 plate appearances, Tomas broke out his power stroke in 2016. He upped the ante with 31 home runs in 563 plate appearance. This year, it could be even more.

Now that he has hit 30 home runs in an MLB season, Tomas should have more confidence. Launching 40 is a reach, but I can see him hitting around 38 or 39. This would be enough to challenge for the National League home run crown.

Chase Field will certainly help Tomas get there. Regular appearances at Coors Field will help, too. However, Tomas hit about the same number of dingers at home and on the road last season with one more at Chase Field. More important than where he does play, Tomas seems to have figured out MLB pitchers.

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Paul Goldschmidt Will Be Shopped, Not Traded

As much as I would like to say the Diamondbacks are in store for a better year, it’s hard to imagine them improving drastically. The National League West remains a strong division with the Diamondbacks in the background.

At the trade deadline, I predict first baseman Paul Goldschmidt becomes a name we see regularly in the rumor mill. The power-hitting heart of the Arizona lineup is an asset that many teams could desire. In many ways, he is the right-handed Joey Votto with a much better contract.

Just like Votto, it would take a king’s ransom for the Diamondbacks to deal Goldschmidt. He will make under $20 million in the next two seasons combined with a third year on his current contract paying him less than $15 million for the year. Since the Diamondbacks do have a nice core of young talent, Goldschmidt will ultimately stay as Arizona retools for 2018.

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Shelby Miller Moves to the Bullpen

Shelby Miller has the tallest mountain to climb on the Diamondbacks roster. He will always be linked to Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson as the two were traded for each other last winter. It’s the unfortunate nature of baseball and an added pressure Miller will carry in his rebound attempt in 2017.

The bad news for Miller is that I do not see things going much better for him in 2017. His 3-12 record and 6.15 ERA are convincing enough to see that Miller is destined for the Diamondbacks bullpen. The demotion will take a few weeks or months into the season, when manager Torey Lovullo has run out of excuses.

The Diamondbacks made sure to add depth to the rotation this offseason. They brought in Taijuan Walker from the Seattle Mariners in the Jean Segura trade. His addition to the roster will make it far easier to expel Miller from the rotation should the time come to fully admit their trade with the Braves was a huge mistake.

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