Daily Archives: August 13, 2011

Will the Diamondbacks Win the NL West in 2011?

Saturday August 13, 2011



MLB reports:  With the playoffs just around the corner, it is time to slowly predict which teams will be making the cut in advancing to this year’s playoffs.  One of the closest races is in the NL West, where the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants are going head-to-head in fighting for the division title.  When the dust settles come October, we expect to see Arizona overtake the defending World Series champions and advancing to the playoffs.

The Diamondbacks with a 66-53 record are currently sitting two games ahead of the Giants in the standings.  On a four-game winning streak and a 6-4 record in their last 10, the Diamondbacks have been fairly hot since the All-Star break.  The Giants are headed in the opposite direction, currently on a two-game losing streak and a 3-7 record in their last 10.  When looking at the overall compositions of the team, I believe the Diamondbacks are better constructed to make the playoffs.

Last year the Giants were successful in winning the World Series almost exclusively built on pitching.  To be a playoff contender however, there usually needs to be a balance of both offense and pitching strengths on a ballclub.  Taking a look at the Diamondbacks roster, I see that required balanced.  The starting rotation is led by their big three, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Joe Saunders.  The bullpen has closer J.J. Putz and setup men, David Hernandez and Brad Ziegler.  On offense, Miguel Montero, Paul Goldschmidt, Justin Upton, Kelly Johnson and Chris Young lead the way.  Not a complete all-star team like the Yankees, but the Diamondbacks appear to have the best mix of components to take the NL West.  In comparison, the San Francisco Giants appear to fall far short.

The Giants as usual have some of the best starting pitching in baseball this year.  Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are as solid as they come.  Now add into the mix Ryan Vogelsong, Brian Wilson and the rest of the Giants bullpen and you have almost enough pitching to singlehandedly lead the team to the playoffs.  Almost, but not quite in my estimation.  While the Giants proved last year that offense alone can win a World Series, I do not see that happening again this year.  Not with that offense.  With team leader Buster Posey out for the year and new acquisition Carlos Beltran on the shelf, the Giants will not be able to score enough runs to over take the Diamondbacks.  Pablo Sandoval cannot do it on his own and Aubrey Huff, Orlando Cabrera and the rest of the Giants batters simply can’t cut it.  The Giants will be able to stay close in ballgames, but the reality is that runs are needed to win the necessary games to make it to the playoffs.  While 2010 was a dream season, 2011 will now be a return to reality.

Much credit needs to be given to Kirk Gibson and his staff for turning a young and up-and-coming team and turn them into contenders almost overnight.  While Gibson has made the right moves on the field, GM Kevin Towers has been the lightening rod behind the scenes.  Strengthening the bullpen and beefing up the rotation with a mix of veterans and blossoming prospects has been the key for the team.  Having their young hitters turn the page like Justin Upton and Miguel Montero to take the next step has been the turning point.  If you compare the Giants and Diamondbacks just based on pitching, then San Francisco has the edge.  But considering that the Diamondbacks can score runs and the Giants have one of the worst offenses in baseball, I see Arizona having the advantage.  Giants fans should feel no shame, as the glory of their championship from last year will shine bright for many years to come.  But until the team can find a stronger and balanced offense in its lineup, in the short-term the team has too many shortcomings on offense to overcome.  As a result, expect Arizona back to the playoffs this year.  As the Giants were a team of destiny last year, the Diamondbacks are the same team of destiny to win the NL West in 2011.  


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