With Opening Day in the rearview mirror and quite an exciting one full of Beer at that, I thought I better make my bold predictions for this season before it gets too late. I don't want to be making it seem as if I made my bold predictions based on what's happened. The Diamondbacks have a ton of young players with 11 players under the age of 26. There will be growing pains and some awesome breakouts too. The team has a great mix of veterans with young up-and-coming guys and some franchise players.
The Diamondbacks are building for 2023 and beyond. That year is the year that the team will be pushing for the playoffs 100%. They could make it this year if everything goes absolutely right like in 2017. That's a big if, but weirder things have happened and this is baseball after. Baseball is a game of weirdness and miracles. After all, how do you think the Padres made the playoffs in 2020.
Bold Prediction #1. The Dbacks win 85+ games, 3rd in NL West, and compete for a Wild Card Spot
This might be a tiny bit of a recency bias, but I also think it's possible yet extremely unlikely. As I projected a few days ago, I think the team could hit 73 wins or so. The Dbacks need a lot to go right for this to happen. They must stay healthy which is easier said than done as the past couple years have shown. Gallen and Marte especially have to stay healthy. The bullpen impressed me on Opening Day when they pitched 6 innings of 1-run ball and after the 4th inning, didn't give up a single hit. That's the complete opposite of last year. Couple that with the new coaching staff and I have hope.
We are full of young prospects that will be pushing for playing time, including the pitchers. If our rotation develops a solid rotation and our hitting improves from last year then it's possible. Like I said, it's extremely improbable, but it's possible. Yet, we all know how the Dbacks perform when they are complete underdogs.
Bold Prediction #2. Seth Beer finishes in the top-3 of Rookie of the Year voting in the National League.
NO, this isn't recency bias. Although his big HR on Thursday night does help prove my point. I'm not sure that a pure DH rookie can win the award but I do think that he could finish top-3. Beer has a great hitting ability with a smooth swing that generates a lot of contact and power. If he ends up hitting 30+ HRs and 85+ RBIs with 24+ doubles, I'd say that's enough to generate a top-3 vote in the Rookie of the Year award. Beer could be the catalyst to the middle of the Dbacks lineup.
Bold Prediction #3. Zac Gallen finishes Top-10 in CY Young Voting.
We know that Gallen has the ability to pitch extremely well. He's got ace potential and I think this is the year he pitches a full season with a great pitching coach in Brent Strom supporting him. If Gallen is healthy and pitches a full season with a near 3.00 ERA and 165+ innings and 175+ Ks, I could see him getting a top-10 ballot count. He is projected to be the ace of this Dbacks rotation for years to come and is only 26. He's just entering his prime. Look out for the MIlkman to deliver some wins.
Bold Prediction #4. Manager Torey Lovullo earns an extension
By all accounts, the players love and adore Torey as their manager. In fact, one of the main reasons Ketel Marte wanted to stay is because of Lovullo. He's known as a player's manager. Torey's improved a lot over his years of managing the Dbacks to where he might be hitting his stride. Combine that with an impressive coaching staff he rebuilt this past off-season and a better season could earn him another year or two with the team. I doubt the Diamondbacks want to risk losing pitching coach Brent Strom by firing Torey unless the wheels absolutely come off the wagon. Say the Dbacks do finish with 76 wins on the season. That would be a 24-win improvement. I don't know if you can honestly fire a manager after that huge an improvement.
Last year can't be completely put on Torey as he can't prevent injuries. If the team stays healthy and performs up to or better than expectations, I expect Torey to get extended. Finding quality managers in the MLB isn't as easy as it may seem. Just ask the Padres or some other teams that. Perhaps this isn't such a bold prediction after all.
Bold Prediction #5. The Diamondbacks acquire a long-term answer at Third Base
It's no secret the team is struggling with its long-term outlook at the hot corner. We don't truly have any top-tier prospects that fit there and our SS prospects are years away. The team has enviable catching, pitching, and outfielder depth. Perhaps the Diamondbacks swing another minor leaguer for minor leaguer or prospect for prospect trade like GM Mike Hazen did back in 2019. He traded Jazz Chisholm, a 2nd base prospect for Zac Gallen, a rookie SP. It was an excellent trade as the team's swapped their depth. The Dbacks got an MLB-ready SP and the Marlins got an MLB-ready 2nd baseman.
I could see that happening again only this time the Dbacks will be getting a third baseman. I don't who just yet, but I think it will happen. Hazen has been speaking far too much about wanting to acquire a third baseman. Better yet, he is refusing to get a short-term rental so as to save our prospects. I love a GM that is logical and thinks about the long-term view.
Bold Prediction #6. The Dbacks have 3 SPs with ERA in the 3's and 3 hitters with 30+ HRs
This feels extremely bold considering the Diamondbacks didn't have a single SP with an ERA in the 3's last year. Obviously, I feel like Zac Gallen will be one of those three. I think Merrill Kelly pulls it out and finishes the year in the 3.8-9 range. The third starter is a difficult choice. I want to say Caleb Smith but I think he throws in the low-4s. The pitcher I ultimately expect it to be is a rookie pitcher say Tommy Henry or Tyler Gilbert. Don't be surprised if it's Caleb Smith.
As for the hitters, I already predicted Seth Beer hits 30+. Who are the other two? I think Ketel is set to hit 30+ too as long as he is healthy. I see him getting another ballot MVP season isn't bold. The third batter I see launching 30 long balls is Christian Walker. I think his power is back and he will hit for power with a not-great batting average.
Some bonus predictions: Daulton Varsho steals 20+ bags, Melancon has 23+ saves, Carson Kelly gets a Gold Glove, and Perdomo hits .275 with 10+ HRs and 15+ steals. I also could see ten rookies being on the squad at the end of the season.
Here's a prediction from Twitter!