With the lofty expectations the D’backs felt coming into 2012, I feel that although they will be expected to contend, the 2013 D’backs will not be feeling the same pressure they did last season. My colleague Christian Moffett wrote a post a few days ago (New Year, Sam Expectations) sharing his insight on expectations with this 2013 team having the same expectations that the 2012 club had. Although I agree that expectations will be similar, I feel like there’s an interesting dynamic to this 2013 club in that they won’t be coming in necessarily with talk about a potential trip to the World Series, but more of potential NL West winning expectations instead.
Entering Spring Training in 2012, Arizona was coming off a magical 2011 season that made it appear that this club was destined for great things in 2012. There was even preseason talk about the D’backs potentially being the National League representative in the World Series. Those kind of expectations can be suffocating and may have been a bit unfair to the 2012 club.
As we embark on a new year and with Spring Training right around the corner, I agree, expectations should be similar. Sights should be set on a run at a NL West division championship. The team is arguably better than the team from 2011 and I believe they have the pieces to be a dark horse in what will be a tough division. But in 2013, they will not have to deal with talk of a World Series run before an Opening Day pitch is thrown. They may be able to play more of an underdog role as they did in 2011.
The Dodgers and the Giants have improved and will be forces to be reckoned with. However, with a return to some of the ways things went in 2011 and a little luck in the way of injuries, the 2013 D’backs will give those California teams a run in the NL West and maybe even a lengthy postseason run.