Arizona is not just a patch of desert for Spring Training and retirement communities any more. The Diamondbacks are bringing one of the better lineups in the National League and a pitching staff with plenty to prove. While we all know some of the key names involved, owners should be salivating more than they are when you look at the production possible.
5. What should I make of the news Chris Owings is likely starting at shortstop? Fantasy-wise, this is great news. Owings has a far better offensive makeup than what owners would have received from Didi Gregorius. Owings puts the ball in play more effectively, having shown a BABIP of .386 in Triple-A last season and numbers well north of .320 in all his minor league years. With power that could reach the low-teens in home runs (ISO numbers of .140 or better in four of his five stops) and the opportunity to steal 20 bases, he is a player that will give reasonable production across at least three if not four categories in standard leagues. Does that make him a top-ten player? Not necessarily, but he is an asset in leagues that require a middle infield spot and a starter in all NL-only formats.
4. With the injury to Patrick Corbin, is it Archie Bradley time? In the words of Patches O’Houlihan, slow down there, sport. Bradley is one of if not the best pitching prospects in baseball, but he has struggled in his last two spring outings. That includes one down in Australia. In 12 innings of work, he has allowed nine walks. He struggled with consistency with his approach in the minors and the walks look like a red flag. Arizona can afford to wait on him given they currently have Josh Collmenter penciled in as a sixth starter and Randall Delgado who has done the job before. Ability-wise, Bradley is the real deal and could evolve into a better option. He should be filed away in keeper leagues and even NL-only formats. Just do not expect him to break camp as the number five starter.
3. Should I buy into the Mark Trumbo hype machine? Well, it is not exactly a bandwagon yet, but we are getting close. Trumbo is penciled in as the starting left fielder. That being the case, he can be counted on for at least 145 games, a number he has reached each of the last three seasons. Given the games played, the power is going to be there. His ISO numbers have been consistently around .220 over those three seasons which has allowed him to generate 95 home runs in that span. He has increased his runs, RBI, and home run totals in each of the last three years. Yes, he will strike out and there are some average concerns, but these numbers are simply too hard to come by. Trumbo is better than the .234 mark he hit for last season, but not by much. An increase to the .250 area would be all you will see. Still, three categories is hard not to bet on.
2. Surely I must be crazy to think about drafting Paul Goldschmidt ahead of anyone not named Trout, right? Not entirely, but don’t call me Shirley. Look, there is no doubt that Goldschmidt is a first round pick. This is mainly an argument to take him over both Clayton Kershaw and Miguel Cabrera. I am of the opinion that third base is deeper than first base in every league format. Cabrera, in most cases, will initially only qualify at third base. The list of players who scored 100 runs and drove in 100 runs is small every year. Goldschmidt did that last season and continued his tear across the National League. Dumb as it sounds, he could also provide 10-15 steals out of your first base slot. Know how many others will do that? None. Then there is the injury that required “core muscle repair” surgery for Cabrera last season. It could be nothing. This could be all for not, but my gut tells me Goldschmidt generates more value than Cabrera over the course of the season.
1. Who is the most undervalued fantasy asset in Arizona? Plain and simple here. Aaron Hill is going behind Jedd Gyorko and Ben Zobrist while barely ahead of Alex Guerrero. The highest he has gone, according to MockDraftCentral.com, is 105 with a low of 152. Quite simply, he is a steal at second base. In three of his last four full seasons he hit more than 25 home runs. He scored 93 runs in 2012 and has added moderate speed to his game (14 steals in 2012, 21 in 2011). This goes along with a guy that has been a .273 career hitter (.291 last season in 87 games, .302 in 2012). He is the starter in Arizona and will get 150-plus games if he stays healthy. With a low strikeout rate (13 percent for his career), a solid walk rate, consistent BABIP numbers, and the ability to produce in every category, he is not being given enough credit. Owners could do far worse than waiting to grab him in the middle rounds.