Arizona gets swept by Oakland in the World Series
This is science, people! We're 0-2 against the Athletics in Cactus League play. We're 5-0 against everybody else. Clearly, we're going to win the National League, then go down in four to the Athletics. All told, I think I'd settle for that. Our run to the division title, then on through the NLDS and NLCS will be powered by the second-best offense in the National League, with the Diamondbacks collectively hitting .289. Our pitching will turn out to be good enough, sitting in the middle of the pack with its 3.93 ERA. One area of concern though, is defense which will pile up 162 errors over the course of the season.
Team MVP Mark Trumbo has a season for the ages
Despite missing half the 2015 campaign, Trumbo clinches National League Most Valuable Player honors by slugging forty home-runs and batting .333 [the former figure ties him with Jake Lamb for the team lead]. This overshadows the achievement of Cody Ross, who becomes the first player since Ted Williams to hit .400 for a season. However, the Diamondbacks' crown for batting average is shared by the unexpected pair of catchers, who roared out of spring training to claim the position emphatically, sharing duty behind the plate. Gerard Laird and Mark Thomas combine to bat .571 for the season, providing an unexpected source of offense.
But there is some bad news for the hitters
Despite the outstanding performances above, there were still issues, in particular with the outfield where we were forced to go deep down our depth chart, with Nick Buss and Socrates Brito playing 140 games for Arizona. Both men struggled, with OPS's of .485 and 343 respectively. David Peralta also turned out to be a bit of a mirage: while he did hit .300 for the year, his power evaporated, going the entire season without an extra-base hit. Though he also managed to avoid striking out at all in 2015, earning high marks from assistant hitting coach Mark Grace ("Something something put the ball in play").
Chase Anderson leads the pitching staff
Anderson proves to be magnificent, on his way to the 2015 Cy Young, and becomes the first Diamondback pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts, since Dan Haren in 2009. He is joined in the rotation by Josh Collmenter, Rubby de la Rosa, Jeremy Hellickson and Braden Shipley. Between them, this five already have a total of 15.2 innings without allowing a run, so I'm expecting a record number of shutouts from Arizona in 2015 (the current mark was set by the 2001 team, who had 13; last year, we managed.... er, four). The standard for inclusion on that Opening Day roster will be just too high for Trevor Cahill and Archie Bradley, despite the pair having posted a combined 2.16 ERA.
Not all plain sailing
Depth is definitely going to be a concern, since it looks like we will be missing both closer Addison Reed, and intended substitute Brad Ziegler for the entire 2015 campaign. However, strong replacement performances can be expected from A.J. Schugel (no hits allowed, two spring innings) and J.C. Ramirez (three IP, one hit, four strikeouts). Yoan Lopez... Not so much. After continuing to post the spring ERA to date of 21.60, Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa are seen frantically scrabbling in the dumpsters around the back of Chase Field, looking for the receipt. Vidal Nuno's 10.80 ERA doesn't bode well for him getting a regular-season win as a Diamondback either.
In case you hadn't figured it out, the above is intended ironically. Many studies have shown virtually no connection between a player's spring training performance and what happens once Opening Day rolls around: the sample sizes are so small that the random noise of luck overpowers any meaningful signal. That said, it's still nice to see the team with a winning record, especially after the 2014 season: winning meaningless spring games is better than losing them! But just remind yourself: getting good at-bats, executing your pitches and - after last year, this can't be stressed enough - staying healthy, are likely more important than actual numbers in the stats columns.
That said, I'll probably be back in another week, with further over-energetic analysis. :)