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Arizona Diamondbacks 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Arizona Diamondbacks 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Arizona Diamondbacks 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

A miserable start in the miserable year of 2020 led to another trade deadline selloff, and the moves committed the D-backs to a retooling around core building blocks Ketel Marte, Zac Gallen and Madison Bumgarner. If the starting pitching stays healthy and the young arms take another step forward, the Diamondbacks could compete for a playoff spot, but they will need a rebound from virtually every member of their offense — and a big one from Bumgarner.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Diamondbacks

"It's got to be frustrating for these guys. They'll always be in the shadow of the Dodgers, the Padres are strong now, and they look like they're headed in the wrong direction after three winning seasons. Madison Bumgarner didn't look right at all; his stuff was way down. Just when they got out from under the Zack Greinke contract, they stuck themselves with another big deal for four more years. They do have a keeper in Zac Gallen, though, and Merrill Kelly looked really good; he doesn't walk anyone. Ketel Marte came back to earth a little bit, but he's a versatile switch-hitter at a reasonable salary, like Eduardo Escobar. With those guys, Nick Ahmed and David Peralta, they've got a good little core signed for a couple more years. Christian Walker hits the ball hard over at first base. Kole Calhoun has real power. There's a lot to like, and Torey Lovullo will keep them playing hard. But they're so far behind the Dodgers and the Padres that if Bumgarner keeps regressing, I don't know if they can overcome it."

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Beyond the Box Score

Winning the inch The Diamondbacks' emphasis on "winning the inch" is particularly evident in their aggressive, intelligent baserunning. Arizona had a 76.7 percent success rate on stolen bases in 2020, the seventh consecutive season in which they had at least a 72 percent success rate. "The inch in baseball is not the game of inches, it's that you have to prepare to win every inch all over the baseball field," manager Torey Lovullo says. The D-backs' 70 "bases taken" (advancement on fly balls, passed balls, wild pitches, and defensive indifference) were second in the NL last season. Their percentage of extra bases taken (more than one base on a single or two on a double) was third.

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2021 Athlon Sports Baseball Preview

Highly decorated

Revered executive Roland Hemond, who served as the GM of the White Sox and Orioles and also spent 16 years as a special assistant with the D-backs after joining them before the 1997 expansion draft, was elected to the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame last summer. Among the other inductees were Phil Mickelson, Paul Westphal, Anne Meyers Drysdale, Joe Caldwell, and Andre Ethier. Hemond was named the

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Executive of the Year three times and has won the Branch Rickey Award and the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award. He is considered the father of the Arizona Fall League.

Black Mamba II OF Tim Locastro has been the fastest player in baseball by average sprint speed in the last two seasons, according to Statcast, and he topped out at a speed of 31 feet per second on a triple on Sept. 9. A black mamba snake tops out at around 30 feet per second (about 20 mph). Locastro has succeeded on his first 26 stolen base attempts, one short of the MLB record set by Tim Raines from 1979-81.

Solid start It might have slid under the radar, but righthander Zac Gallen made history last season when he became the first starting pitcher to give up three or fewer runs in his first 23 major league starts. He had eight such starts in 2020 after 15 the year before. Boston's Aaron Sele had the previous record, 21, from June 23, 1993, to April 19, 1994. Gallen has a 2.42 ERA in those 23 starts, but a lack of run support left him with a 4–6 record.

Diamond dogs With the reorganization of the minor leagues, the Diamondbacks added one new affiliate — the Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles, formerly affiliated with San Diego. The D-backs will continue their relationships with Triple-A Reno, High-A Hillsboro, and Low-A Visalia. Hillsboro previously was their short-season Single-A team. A sod poodle, of course, is a prairie dog.

Projected Lineup


CF    Ketel Marte (S)

2B    Eduardo Escobar (S)

LF    David Peralta (L)

1B    Christian Walker (R)

RF    Kole Calhoun (L)

3B    Asdrubal Cabrera (S)

SS    Nick Ahmed (R)

C     Carson Kelly (R)


C      Stephen Vogt (L)

OF    Tim Locastro (R)

UT    Daulton Varsho (L)

UT    Josh Rojas (L)

1B    Pavin Smith (L)


LHP     Madison Bumgarner

RHP     Zac Gallen

RHP     Merrill Kelly

LHP     Caleb Smith

RHP     Luke Weaver


RHP     Joakim Soria (C)

RHP     Stefan Chrichton

RHP     Taylor Widener

RHP     Yoan Lopez

RHP     Kevin Ginkel

LHP     Alex Young

RHP     Chris Devenski
RHP     Tyler Clippard

2021 Prediction: 3rd in NL West

(Zac Gallen photo courtesy of @Dbacks)