The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres are the favorites to finish first and second in the National League West division; and it is widely assumed that the Arizona Diamondbacks, the San Francisco Giants, and the Colorado Rockies will fight for the third place.
In fact, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections have the Diamondbacks finishing third in the division, with a 79.3 – 82.7 simulated record.
Overall, the Diamondbacks’ offensive firepower is not quite on the Dodgers and Padres level, but the projected lineup has some upside and potential:
1. RF Kole Calhoun
2. CF Ketel Marte
3. 1B Christian Walker
4. LF David Peralta
5. 3B Eduardo Escobar
6. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
7. SS Nick Ahmed
8. C Carson Kelly
Potential 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks lineup:
1. Kole Calhoun (RF)
2. Ketel Marte (CF)
3. Christian Walker (1B)
4. David Peralta (LF)
5. Eduardo Escobar (3B)
6. Asdrubel Cabrera (2B)
7. Nick Ahmed (SS)
8. Cardon Kelly (C)
9. Bumgarner/Gallen/Weaver/Smith/Kelly (P) pic.twitter.com/VW64fZcnaF
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) February 13, 2021
Diamondbacks’ Lineup, Position By Position
After a slow start, Calhoun finished the year red-hot, with a .226/.338/.526 line, a .362 weighted On Base Average (wOBA) and a 125 weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+.)
Calhoun’s 16 home runs were tops in the team in 2020, and he was one of the league leaders in at-bats per HR:
2020 MLB Leaders in AB’s per HR:
1. Luke Voit: 10.3
2. Mike Trout: 11.7
3. Juan Soto: 11.8
T-4. Kole Calhoun: 11.9
T-4. Nelson Cruz: 11.9
6. Corey Seager: 12.1
7. Teoscar Hernandez: 12.3
8. Adam Duvall: 12.4
9. Jose Abreu: 12.7
— Aram Leighton (@AramLeighton8) February 10, 2021
Marte had a subpar season by his standards, with a .287/.323/.409 line, two homers, one steal, and a 94 wRC+.
However, he carries as much offensive upside as anyone in the lineup, having slashed .329/.389/.592 with 32 homers and a 150 wRC+ over a much larger sample in 2019.
If Marte produces, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ lineup will look much better.
Christian Walker is another accomplished hitter who hit 29 dingers in 2019 and had seven in the 2020 shortened season.
With a .253/.335/.466 career line and a .801 OPS, Walker figures to offer some additional punch behind Calhoun and Marte.
Peralta is, at this point, a respected veteran still capable of being competent in the batter’s box.
He hit five homers in the abbreviated 2020 season, and they came with a solid .300/.339/.433 line.
Escobar is another bounce-back candidate who had a much better 2019 (.269/.320/.511, 35 homers, 118 RBI) than 2020 (.212/.270/.335, five round-trippers, and a 56 wRC+.)
Still 32, Escobar could theoretically return to his 2019 level or something close to it, and if he does, Arizona’s lineup will be much improved.
Asdrubal Cabrera was signed this week, and he will presumably take over the second base job.
Cabrera has some experience and offers some pop, as well.
Ahmed and Kelly aren’t particularly dangerous offensive threats, but they do carry some upside and their presence in the lineup is justified by their excellent defense.
The Top Prospect, Waiting In The Wings
Waiting in the wings is catcher/outfield prospect Daulton Varsho, who made his MLB debut last season.
Varsho figured to play most of the time in center field before Cabrera’s signing.
Now, he figures to play some outfield and occasionally spelling Kelly at catcher.
When he’s on, Varsho has 20-20 ability and is considered among the best prospects in MLB.
There are also some minor leaguers to pay attention to in the organization as far as position players go.