The Diamondbacks finished a distant fourth in the NL West last season, and their -138 run differential tied for the third-worst mark in major league baseball. The team made a big move during the offseason, trading Jean Segura, Mitch Hanigan and Zac Curtis for Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte. While no sure thing, of course, it appears like a shrewd move of selling high on Segura while buying low on Walker. If Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin rebound and A.J. Pollock and David Peralta stay healthy while Yasmany Tomas and Jake Lamb further progress, this team has a real shot at being interesting. Even if everything doesn’t break right, at minimum, Arizona will almost certainly be far better than they were in 2016.
Let’s take a look at some pressing questions heading into 2017…
Q: Can A.J. Pollock and Zack Greinke bounce back coming off disappointing campaigns?
In 2015, Pollock finished as the No. 4 ranked fantasy hitter, when he posted an impressive line of .315-111-20-76-39. Unfortunately, a fractured elbow during the team’s last spring training game (and later a groin injury) limited him to just a dozen games (in which he still managed a couple of homers and four steals), making him one of the biggest fantasy “busts” of 2016. Pollock enters 2017 fully healthy, and he’s firmly in his prime at 29 years old, so there’s every bit of reason to be optimistic about a big rebound season. His current ADP is 35, which is certainly lower than his cost last year but in no way a huge discount, as there’s no secret Pollock possesses a ton of upside.
While he failed to toss 175.0 innings for the first time since 2012, it was Greinke’s performance while on the field that felled his fantasy owners more so than health last season. After posting a .222 BABIP in 2015, Greinke’s hit rate predictably regressed near to his career norm (.294) in 2016, and he gave up far more homers while moving to Chase Field, which increased home runs by 23 percent last season – the second-highest mark in MLB. Greinke’s velocity (91.3 mph) was his lowest since 2005, and he dealt with shoulder stiffness in September, so it’s tough to bank on a major bounce back here. I don’t have him as a top-30 fantasy starter entering 2017.
Q: Who are some sleepers to target in the desert?
David Peralta – He recorded an .893 OPS with 17 homers and nine stolen bases in fewer than 150 games in 2015, but injuries completely ruined his follow up last season, limiting him to just 171 (unproductive) at bats. Peralta has durability concerns, and his track record at the major league level isn’t lengthy, but he’s 29 years old and looked like a budding star as recently as 18 months ago. And with an ADP of 278, he’s getting completely overlooked and practically free. There’s a good chance he even hits cleanup, between Paul Goldschmidt and Yasmany Tomas, so he’s someone to target.
Taijuan Walker – After making real progress toward the end of 2015, Walker looked primed for a true breakout at the beginning of last season, when he posted a 1.44 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP with a 25:3 K:BB ratio over 25.0 innings in April. But it was all downhill from there, as his ERA was 5.36 over 90.2 innings from that point forward. However, Walker was pitching through painful bone spurs (10 of them!) that required surgery after the season. Now healthy and with a move to the NL West (although Chase Field won’t help his homer-proneness), the 24-year-old has the upside to finish as a top-25 fantasy starter, and he won’t cost anywhere near that price (ADP 230).
Fernando Rodney – No one’s excited to draft a soon-to-be 40-year-old reliever who posted a 5.89 ERA and 1.80 WHIP after getting traded to Miami last season, but Rodney did sport a 0.31 ERA and 0.87 WHIP at the time he was dealt, and most importantly, he’s currently slated to act as Arizona’s closer, with no clear option breathing down his neck. The peripherals won’t be special, but there may not be a cheaper source of 35+ saves out there (ADP 287).
Q: Where should we draft Yasmany Tomas?
He owns a paltry .309 OBP over 936 career at bats since joining the majors, but Tomas popped 31 homers over 140 games last year and will be entering his age 26 season in 2017. He posted a .913 OPS after the All-Star break and gets to hit in a home park that’s increased run scoring by 15 percent over the past three seasons (only Fenway Park and Coors Field have been better run-scoring environments over that span). Tomas’ ADP is 147, so he remains plenty affordable. In fact, he should be considered an absolute steal at that price.
Diamondbacks Projected Lineup
OF A.J. Pollock
3B Jake Lamb
1B Paul Goldschmidt
RF David Peralta
LF Yasmany Tomas
2B Brandon Drury
SS Chris Owings
C Chris Iannetta
Diamondbacks Projected Rotation
SP Zack Greinke
SP Taijuan Walker
SP Robbie Ray
SP Shelby Miller
SP Patrick Corbin
CL Fernando Rodney
RP Jake Barrett