Less than one week until Opening Day, so it's time to step up and say what we reckon the Diamondbacks' players will deliver. In previous years, we have done more in-depth community projections, but the turn-out for those last time was... Well, let's be honest, it was me and Azreous. So let's keep things simple and just ask you to project single numbers. We'll be covering a different topic each day, until we reach the big one on the eve of the first game - how many wins will the team get?
But we start with the long-ball. Who'll send most balls out of the yard for Arizona in 2011, and how many will they hit? Quick poll below, explain yourself and provide a predicted number in the comments.Single-Season Champions
- 1998: Devon White + Travis Lee, 22
- 1999: Jay Bell: 38
- 2000: Steve Finley:35
- 2001: Luis Gonzalez: 57
- 2002: Luis Gonzalez: 28
- 2003: Luis Gonzalez: 26
- 2004: Steve Finley: 23
- 2005: Troy Glaus: 37
- 2006: Eric Byrnes: 26
- 2007: Chris Young: 32
- 2008: Mark Reynolds: 28
- 2009: Mark Reynolds: 44
- 2010: Mark Reynolds: 32
Perhaps surprisingly, the median is quite low. On average, over franchise history, you'd only need 32 home-runs to lead the team. However, the leader from last season is gone, so there's a good chance we might have a new name on the list - though 2010's runner-up (Chris Young, 27) might have something to say about that. Here are the four leading candidates for the honor.
Russell Branyan. Career high: 31 (2009). Last year: 25. Career: 31 per 162 games.
The question for Branyan is perhaps less whether he will hit home-runs, as how many chances he will get to do so. As previously noted, his HR/AB ratio beats just about anyone in the league save Albert Pujols, but since he debuted in 1998, he has only reached 120 games once, and that was back in 2002. Since then, he has averaged only 83. Getting playing time for Arizona will depend on him staying healthy, but likely also the production of Juan Miranda at first-base.
Kelly Johnson. High: 26 (2010). Last year: 26. Career: 18 per 162 games.
Our second-baseman had a break-out season in 2010, easily setting a personal best for home-runs. He took full advantage of the hitter-friendly conditions at Chase Field, where he batted .311. He dispatched 16 of his 26 long-balls at home, confirming its reputation as a good place for left-handers with pop. There's some question whether he can sustain those numbers, or if statistical regression is to be expected - his BABIP in 2010 was .339, well above league-average. However, HR are excluded from BABIP, and he should likely remain among the biggest power threats at his position.
Justin Upton. High: 26 (2009). Last year: 17. Career: 23 per 162 games.
Will this be the year Upton finally breaks out? Diamondbacks' fans have been hoping for that since he made his debut for the team on Aug. 2nd, 2007, but he has yet to crack the 140-game mark, the minimum you'd expect from your everyday outfielder. He doesn't have any significant competition for playing time, so the number of games he'll get, is likely the number of games he can move all four limbs freely. If he reaches his potential, and avoids further injury issues, he is certainly capable of launching the ball out of the park on a frequent basis - but those are both non-negligible "ifs."
Chris Young. High: 32 (2007). Last year: 27. Career: 25 per 162 games.
Leads current Diamondbacks with 98 home-runs for the team; that's fifth on the all-time list, and this year should see him pass Matt Williams (99) and, maybe, Reynolds (121). Young rebounded from a weak 2009 with a strong season, and will look to build upon that this year. At the age of 27, he should be in the prime of his power, and has already proven capable of reaching more than 30 homers, when we won the division in 2007. Has averaged 150 games per year since, and that excludes his stint in Triple-A during the second-half of 2009, so he has proven himself capable of withstanding the grind of the season.
Of course, there are other contenders who might make a run at the crown. Stephen Drew has a 21-homer season on his resume, Melvin Mora hit 23 bombs the last time he played full-time, Miguel Montero has averaged 17 per 162 games, and Juan Miranda's power is largely unseen at the major-league level. They would be why there is a "someone else" category on the poll, so if you pick that, feel free to specify who you meant.