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The Arizona Diamondbacks in 2030: gazing into our crystal baseball

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The Montrizona MapleBacks will be a force to be reckoned with.

ILLUSTRATION: Psychic The Detroit Free Press/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

* Note: this article contains a handful of tables and polls, so mobile/AMP readers beware

At the turn of the new year, Fangraphs’ Effectively Wild — one of the best baseball podcasts around — dropped an episode where they discussed what baseball will look like in the 2020s. It is worth the listen if you have an hour, it’s fun to imagine what the game will look like over the next ten years. Here at the Snakepit, we have spent most January and Febraury looking back on top Diamondbacks players, games, and moments of the 2010’s. But what will we be talking about in the year 2030? Who will have embedded themselves in Diamondbacks lore? Will there even be an Arizona Diamondbacks team to discuss?

Will the Diamondbacks retire a jersey in the decade?

The only player with much of a chance of having his number retired this decade is Paul Goldschmidt, though I’m not sure that a) he will have retired in time and b) that Arizona will retire his jersey at all. When he returns to free agency after the 2024 season, he will be entering his age-37 season. It is quite rare for guys to play at age 37 and up (8 position players in 2019, 15 in 2018, 12 in 2017), but Goldy is a rare player. We’ll give him one more year and say he retires after the 2025 season, so the D-Backs should have plenty of time to retire his jersey. Will the Diamondbacks deem his 44 worthy of joining 20, 42, and 51 in right field? Comparisons to the only Arizona position player with a retired jersey provide insight:

Goldy vs Gonzo

Statistic Paul Goldschmidt Luis Gonzalez
Statistic Paul Goldschmidt Luis Gonzalez
Seasons 8 8
Games 1092 1194
Hits 1182 1337
HR 209 224
AVG 0.297 0.298
OBP 0.398 0.391
SLG 0.532 0.529
WAR 40.3 30.1
Playoff Appearances 2 3
World Series Walk-Offs 0 1
Source: Baseball-Reference

The two players have strikingly similar statistics, though Goldschmidt is better when adjusting for era. That last column in the table, however, cemented Gonzo as a D-Back legend. Solid arguments can be made both for and against Goldy, but my gut leans toward the “for” side. He has the distinction of being the best homegrown player in D-Back history and defined the franchise for almost the entire 2010’s. Maybe Carson Kelly will still be around to receive Goldschmidt’s first pitch at the ceremony.

Poll

Will the Diamondbacks retire a jersey this decade?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Yes, Goldy
    (172 votes)
  • 6%
    Yes, non-Goldy player
    (14 votes)
  • 20%
    No
    (47 votes)
233 votes total Vote Now

Where will the Diamondbacks be playing home games?

Ever since the Diamondbacks filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County in 2017 seeking $135 million to pay for upgrades/repairs to Chase Field, it has felt like a question of when rather than if the D-Backs would build a new stadium. New rumors seem to be dropping every few months, and the Snakepit drummed up a great deal of chatter last May with the leak of a possible ballpark design. The team can now leave Chase Field as early as 2022, and while some fans may prefer renovations to Chase, it would be surprising if they have not at least broken ground on a new stadium by the end of the decade. Smart money says they head out near either Salt River Fields or the Phoenix Rising soccer complex, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s story from last August about Henderson, Nevada’s push to lure the team is a reminder that there’s no guarantee of remaining in Arizona. Who knows, perhaps the team re-brands as the MapleBacks and plays half their games up in Montreal. Hopefully you like your Churro Dog served on a maple donut.

Poll

Where will the Diamondbacks play home games in 2030?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Chase Field
    (40 votes)
  • 21%
    Chase Field, but have announced a new stadium
    (54 votes)
  • 58%
    Arizona, but not Chase Field
    (150 votes)
  • 5%
    Not in Arizona
    (13 votes)
257 votes total Vote Now

How many players currently in the organization will still be with the team?

Not a single player from the 2019 Diamondbacks squad was a part of the organization in 2010. The closest are Archie Bradley and Andrew Chafin, both of whom were acquired in the 2011 draft.

The projected MLB estimated time of arrival (ETA) for each player on Fangraphs’ Diamondbacks prospect list will be quite helpful in guiding our prediction for 2029. ETA is Fangraphs’ prediction of what year that each prospect will make the MLB squad. Then, using our knowledge of service time rules and service time manipulation practices (booooo), we assume that each player will hit free agency seven years after their MLB debut. For example, Kristian Robinson has an ETA of 2022. If he makes his debut in 2022, he would (probably) be eligible for free agency after the 2028 season.

Fangraphs predicts that eight players in the organization’s top-30 prospects have an ETA of 2023 or later, meaning these eight players would potentially hit free agency after the 2029 season:

Top 30 Prospects, ETA 2023+

Name Organizational Rank Position ETA Future Value
Name Organizational Rank Position ETA Future Value
Corbin Carroll 6 CF 2023 50
Blake Walston 9 LHP 2024 45+
Wildred Patino 11 CF 2023 45+
Justin Martinez 19 RHP 2023 40+
Blaze Alexander 20 SS 2023 40+
Tommy Henry 21 LHP 2023 40
Dominic Fletcher 22 RF 2023 40
Jefferson Espinal 23 CF 2025 40
Source: Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel

I’ll take a stab in the dark and guess that two players will still be with the team at the end of the 2029 season. And since nobody will write these predictions down, it’ll be Corbin Carroll hitting a go-ahead home run in the 2029 World Series, and Blake Walston striking out Baltimore Orioles’ star Spencer Torkelson to get the save.

Poll

How many players in the organization will make it through the entire decade with the team?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    0
    (48 votes)
  • 25%
    1
    (51 votes)
  • 28%
    2
    (56 votes)
  • 10%
    3
    (21 votes)
  • 11%
    4+
    (22 votes)
198 votes total Vote Now

Will any franchise records be broken?

First, we’ll take a quick look at rate stats, because this question essentially boils down to, “will the Diamondbacks have a player come up who is better than Paul Goldschmidt/Luis Gonzalez or Randy Johnson?” My answer is no, but hey, you never know. The all-time triple slash is .298/.398/.532, and the all-time ERA 2.83(!), all of which seem like they’ll be quite difficult to top. Robbie Ray, with his K/9 of 11.28, could pass Randy Johnson’s 11.47, but it would take a heck of a season.

Counting stats are much more interesting. If David Peralta had four years left on his contract, he’d have a chance to take the franchise lead in games played (would need 131 per season to reach Gonzo’s 1194) and hits (159 per season to reach 1337), but unfortunately for David, his contract gives him only three more years with the Diamondbacks. He’ll wind up in the top 3 all-time in most offensive categories and will deserve to be looked back upon as a Diamondback great. I’ll go bold and predict that Peralta ends up as the franchise leader in triples, even if he only plays out his current contract. He needs 18 more, 6 per season, to surpass Tony Womack’s count of 52. 6 per year might be a stretch, but we’re talking about the Freight Train. He’s averaged 5.8 per season, so round up and choo-choo, David Peralta is your franchise leader in triples.

Ketel Marte is intriguing due to the length of his contract (5 years) and whether last year reflects Marte’s true skill level. If he does not resign with Arizona, he probably comes up just short in most categories. For example, he’d need 35 home runs per year to pass Gonzo’s total of 224 and 192 hits per year to pass Gonzo’s 1337. If he resigns with the team when he hits free agency in 2025, however, Marte has a pretty good chance to become your franchise leader in most offensive categories.

Of course, the possibility of a Daulton Varsho or Kristian Robinson coming up from the minors and shattering offensive records hasn’t even been considered. Certainly could happen! Would be cool!

On the pitching side, it would be a shock if any records are taken down. Randy Johnson leads the team with 118 wins. Robbie Ray is the next closest active Diamondback at 46, followed by, uh, Archie Bradley at 21, and Merrill Kelly at 13. Most other stats tell the same story; Zac Gallen or another pitcher in the minor-league system would need to be the reincarnation of Christy Mathewson to threaten any records. There is one record that is almost certain to fall (though if some select fans had their wishes heard the last few years, the number would not be in danger). Andrew Chafin needs 52 more appearances to pass Brad Ziegler’s mark of 377. Chafin has amassed at least 70 appearances the last three season, so barring injury/implosion, he will become the all-time leader next season.

Finally, you’re sure to impress people in 2030 when you know that Nick Ahmed is the Diamondbacks leader in games played, who will play 146 games every year for the next four years to surpass Gonzo.

How much success will Arizona amass?

This question depends significantly on whether you believe Ken Kendrick starts spending more on the roster. As Jack’s article from earlier this month highlights, the Diamondbacks found themselves in the top half of NL payroll just once in the 2010’s. It will be quite difficult to compete for the division with the high-rolling Dodgers, who have one season with less than 80 wins this millennium, and the Giants, who ranked top-10 in MLB payrolls each season in the last decade. This isn’t to say that it’ll be impossible for the team to have some success — heck, they won the division in 2011 5th-lowest payroll in baseball — but they’re unlikely to have the sustained competitiveness of a team like the Dodgers.

On the other hand... Arizona’s farm system is well-stocked. They have a savvy GM in Mike Hazen who is unlikely to tank the team. A solid core is signed for the next few years until the heralded prospects start taking over. The team may not have a 100 win season on the horizon, but hang around and compete enough times and they are bound to run into success sometimes... right? I sure hope so.

Give me 3 wild card appearances, 2 division titles and 1 World Series berth this decade.

Poll

How many playoff berths will the Diamondbacks have in the 2020s

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    0-1
    (6 votes)
  • 37%
    2-3
    (82 votes)
  • 45%
    4-5
    (98 votes)
  • 10%
    6-7
    (23 votes)
  • 3%
    8-10
    (7 votes)
216 votes total Vote Now

I am curious what direction that the SnakePit community sees the D-Backs headed, so be sure to vote in the above polls and sound off in the comments. Perhaps a follow-up post next week will be in order.