Here are those predictions, which ran from 69 to 85 wins, with an overall average of 74. So, I guess we were a little too pessimistic? As we kick off our review of the season, let's start by revisiting those predictions, to see what we got right and what we got wrong.
Jim McLennan (74)
The team definitely hit a lot better than I expected. While I was close to certain Goldschmidt was going to be a beast, I didn't expect him to be joined by the rest of the outfield, or that our catchers, scarily limp on Opening Day, would end up banging 26 home-runs, more than any team in the National League. Who saw that coming? But I claim credit for, "I don't even expect us to reach .500, we don't have anything approaching the starting pitching for that." Our rotation was an obvious weakness, and we also answered less questions about some of our young players than I wanted: we still don't really know what role Owings, Tomas, De La Rosa or O'Brien might have in our future. But all told, better than expected.
What I got right. I was on target that the Diamondbacks would build the future by developing talent with guidance from proven winners. Several talented players were promoted to the majors. And talented pitchers are ready for their chance.
What I got mostly wrong. I predicted the Diamondbacks would play out untradeable contracts for Cahill, Ross, Hill, and Arroyo. Only Hill's contract was played out in 2015. Ross was released on 4 April (I applaud that painful decision!). Arroyo was bundled with Touki Toussant and traded for Philip Gosselin (who could predict that?). Cahill was bundled with cash and traded for Josh Elander.
What was unexpected.
- Although I predicted Diamondbacks will add additional players in 2016 (next season) to fill weak positions, the weakness at second base (worst WAR in the National League) certainly surprised me. Also, the degree of weakness in starting pitching disappointed me. It was partially mitigated by great defense.
- Instead of developing a catcher, Diamondbacks traded Trumbo and Nuno for Welington Castillo plus three prospects, a great trade!
Steven Burt (80)
Looking back at this prediction I was just super optimistic about the 2015 season. Let's be honest, no one wants to be a fan of a loser and I was confident in the youthful direction this team was going in. And while I thought both Chase Anderson and Jake Lamb were going to rise to the occasion, other youngsters like David Peralta and Robbie Ray stepped in their place and did the job. I never mentioned it but I thought Aaron Hill would bounce back and be the solid veteran presence they needed. He was awful. The only veterans that produced were Goldschmidt, Pollock and Ziegler. Despite being wrong about the end result, I'm content with my prediction and hope the team can build on that for 2016.
Nate Rowan (72)
Well, that was a pleasant surprise. The starting pitching was actually slightly better than I thought it would be, their 4.38 starter's ERA was 22nd in the Majors. What really caught me off guard was the offense. Going into the season, it appeared that the D-Backs 7-8-9 hitters could be the worst in the Majors. Nick Ahmed was actually competent for part of the season, Welington Castillo made the catcher position a strength, and suddenly it was hard to find a weakness in the lineup. Add on the big years Peralta, Inciarte, Pollock, and of course Goldy had, and this is an offense I feel could compete with anyone. Find some starting pitching, and this team could make a run at the postseason next year.
Keep low expectations, and you'll never be disappointed.
The year certainly felt better than last, even if the end result was only 4 wins above my pessimistic prediction. If there's a difference in perspective, it's the slow start of 2014, which made the whole season a knife pit to climb out of. 2015 might not have ever seriously flirted with the playoffs, but it also didn't feel like too much of a grind. A+ would watch again.
I was right about Archie Bradley making his big league debut and Cody Ross not being on the team by the end of the season (though a lot earlier than I suspected) and Goldy may well still finish second in MVP voting, but it's gonna be behind someone on a team that didn't make the playoffs. I was off about O'Brien being the regular catcher, but I will take credit for someone other than Tuffy being the regular by season's end. Kind of an weird thing to take credit for that I didn't actually predict? Hell yes it is, and I don't care.
Overall though, within a certain margin of error, the team performed kind of like I thought it would on a macro level. Some performances were more unexpected than others, but "Offense good, pitching bad" was a thing going into the season and it was a thing going out.
Here's what I predicted:
pitching pitching pitching..... defense defense defense.... sigh sigh sigh
Well... the pitching was better than anticipated because essentially our starting rotation was able to be painfully meh, yes we lost Archie, Chase came and went, DeLaRosa was well, like a roller coaster. Ray gave us workmanlike innings, Webster was a dumpster fire, Collmenter lost his mojo and yet, we had Godley make a rather surprising debut, Pat Corbin showed glimmers of his pre-TJ form. Hellickson was kind of what we expected, so the bullpen was more or less okay but our depth in the pitching ranks was shown to be mostly meh but they rarely were they the Rockies.
Plus, we see hope in the future, Blair and Godley look promising, Ray and DeLaRosa get sophomore years to apply lessons learned, Corbin gets to be back all the way, Hudson, who knows....he's throwing harder/faster but can he sustain the grind? Does Archie bounce back? Does Shipley make a move? We'll know more come March, plus the widely anticipated mystery guest should be known, who stays, who goes... only Dave Stewart knows what prospects are readily available to be moved.
The Defense... well Yasmany was moved to RF and then after he ran out of gas, Ender showed up and did quite well. Yasmany didn't even look overmatched defensively until after the AS break. Jake Lamb was steady, Ahmed was awesome. AJ remains the best defensive OF no one knows about. After Trumbo was dealt, Peralta showed his defensive chops... so what happened was that the guys we expected to be liabilities were either moved or benched or limited in such a fashion to be less of a liability. Catcher rebounded post Tuffy with Beef.
So the defense was improved thanks to the FO and the pitching was still something of a liability but not as much of a liability (perhaps thanks to some of that vaunted D). I'll take it and accept that I underestimated them. Maybe we'll regress after letting Harkey go... you think?
Devin Jessup (71)
Well, I wasn't really wrong in many of my predictions. I may have undershot the target of how many wins we'd rack up, but, hey, you can't predict baseball, right? I will admit that I underestimated our offense quite a bit. It wasn't like we had anyone who really outperformed my expectations by a vast margin, but there was just a lot of quiet, good seasons from a lot of players. The addition of Wellington Castillo to the roster certainly helped bolster the catcher position, a spot of concern for me, and everyone else just kind of did better than I had thought they would. Okay, maybe everyone except Mark Trumbo before the trade.
As for the pitching... Well, yeah. If there's a phrase I'm not fond of, but applies here, "It is what it is." I don't think most of us expected Jeremy Hellickson to really be the top of the rotation starter we needed, but we certainly weren't pleasantly surprised. It was basically the limping through the season that I expected from the pitching staff.
James Attwood (74)
I undershot the win total by a smidgen. This team held up better down the stretch than I expected it to. With Chip Hale continuing to run the majority of the 25-man roster out up through the end of the season, I do think the team made up at least 2-3 wins in September that I was not entirely anticipating. My concerns about pitching and catching were, like many others, pretty spot on. The rotation had no length and the catching was an absolute nightmare. Gosewisch getting injured may have been the "best" thing to happen to this team all season long as it forced Dave Stewart's hand with regard to actually pulling the trigger on getting a starting catcher via trade.
I was calling for Pollock to have a .300 season. I didn't necessarily expect him to be quite as good as he was, but his emergence was not terribly surprising either. I'm thrilled the team stuck it out with Ahmed. He's terribly streaky, but he looks like he might indeed be able to hit just enough over the course of the season that his glove will keep him on the field. This offseason will be a big one for him in terms of working on that swing of his. Tomás was, unfortunately, somewhat as feared. Hopefully he will find some of his missing power this offseason. Peralta taking the next step was a nice bonus. I thought he would be as good or better than 2014, but not like this.
This season the Diamondbacks must find a pitcher to headline the rotation. It's been three years that they have been trying to find an arm now. With next winter being so absent of pitching talent, this is likely the last offseason for the Diamondbacks to make acquiring that arm happen while all of these breakout players are still in their prime.