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Projections for the 2012 Diamondbacks' Batters | April
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As we approach the start of the regular season, the position players on the Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster appear set. SS Stephen Drew will start the season on the Disabled List, leaving the shortstop position to a combination of Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald. The rest of the infield starters will be 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 2B Aaron Hill, and 3B Ryan Roberts, with Lyle Overbay and Geoff Blum serving as backup infielders. The outfield will split time among four players - Justin Upton will be the lineup almost every day, but there will be some rotation among Chris Young, Jason Kubel, and Gerardo Parra for the other two spots. Behind the plate, Miguel Montero will get the bulk of the playing time, with Henry Blanco getting about one start per week.

In 2011, the biggest offensive surprises were from Roberts and Parra, while Drew, Melvin Mora, and the group of first basemen (Russell Branyan, Juan Miranda, Xavier Nady) all performed below expectations. Here are my projections for 2012:

Catchers

Miguel Montero AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2009 425 61 125 16 59 1 38 78 .294 .355 .478
2010 297 36 79 9 43 0 29 71 .266 .332 .438
2011 493 65 139 18 86 1 47 97 .282 .351 .469
2012 (Proj) 485 74 138 19 87 1 48 101 .285 .349 .470

Montero should continue to be one of the team's top hitters in 2012. In Spring Training, he's usually been batting in the cleanup slot, behind Justin Upton and in front of Chris Young. But hitting 4th in the Diamondbacks' lineup isn't a great RBI spot, because the first two hitters, Bloomquist and Hill, don't do a particularly good job of getting on base. Depending on the play of Jason Kubel, it is possible that Montero could drop to 6th in the order.

Henry Blanco AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2008 120 15 35 3 12 0 6 22 .292 .325 .392
2009 204 21 48 6 16 0 26 50 .235 .320 .382
2010 130 10 28 2 8 1 11 26 .215 .271 .300
2011 100 12 25 8 12 0 12 21 .250 .330 .540
2012 (Proj) 108 10 25 3 11 0 11 27 .231 .303 .389

Henry Blanco surprised everyone last year by hitting 8 HR in just 112 AB, his second-highest homer total in fourteen seasons. He probably won't be able to repeat that kind of power in 2012, but he should be adequate offensively, especially against LHP, and solid on defense.

First Basemen

Paul Goldschmidt AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2010 (Hi A) 525 102 165 35 108 5 57 161 .314 .384 .606
2011 (AA) 366 84 112 30 94 9 82 92 .306 .435 .626
2011 156 28 39 8 26 4 20 53 .250 .333 .474
2012 (Proj) 495 74 123 25 81 5 62 164 .248 .332 .455

Paul Goldschmidt had a tremendous first half in AA Mobile last year, and held his own in his first taste of the Majors. He should get the majority of starts at 1B for the Diamondbacks in 2012. There isn't much doubt that Goldschmidt will hit 20+ HRs in the Majors, but there are some questions about his batting average and his strikeouts. He struck out 53 times in 177 plate appearances last year (29.9%), the fifth worst rate in the NL among those with 175 or more plate appearances. 

Lyle Overbay AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2008 544 74 147 15 69 1 74 116 .270 .358 .419
2009 423 57 112 16 64 0 74 95 .265 .372 .466
2010 534 75 130 20 67 1 67 131 .243 .329 .433
2011 394 43 92 9 47 2 42 88 .234 .310 .360
2012 (Proj) 195 27 51 6 28 1 20 41 .262 .330 .410

After being released by the Pirates with a .649 OPS in 391 Plate Appearances, Overbay played well for the Diamondbacks in a very small sample size (.840 OPS, 49 PA). That was enough for him to get a new contract with the team for 2012, and he should be a spot starter and key pinch hitter for Arizona. 

Second Base

Aaron Hill AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2007 608 87 177 17 78 4 41 102 .291 .333 .459
2008 205 19 54 2 20 4 16 31 .263 .324 .361
2009 682 103 195 36 108 6 42 98 .286 .330 .499
2010 528 70 108 26 68 2 41 85 .205 .271 .394
2011 (TOR) 396 38 89 6 45 16 23 53 .225 .270 .313
2011 (ARI) 124 23 39 2 16 5 12 19 .315 .386 .492
2012 (Proj) 525 70 145 18 71 14 36 84 .276 .323 .440

Like Overbay, Hill also found his batting stroke after joining the Diamondbacks. He was really bad offensively with Toronto in 2010 and 2011, but the team gave Hill a 2 year/$11M deal after six weeks of solid play in Arizona. I think he'll continue to hit well in 2012.

Shortstop

Stephen Drew AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2008 611 91 178 21 67 3 41 109 .291 .333 .502
2009 533 71 139 12 65 5 49 87 .261 .320 .428
2010 565 83 157 15 61 10 62 108 .278 .352 .458
2011 321 44 81 5 45 4 30 74 .252 .317 .396
2012 (Proj) 397 52 105 7 48 3 37 71 .264 .327 .413

Drew has not played yet in Spring Training, and the team is hoping he can return by mid-May. Even before his injury last summer, Drew had been having a down offensive year, with his lowest AVG, OBP, and SLG in the last four years.  Even if his offense is down, he should be an upgrade over Bloomquist and McDonald.

Willie Bloomquist AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2007 173 28 48 2 13 7 10 35 .277 .321 .329
2008 165 32 46 0 9 14 25 29 .279 .377 .285
2009 434 52 115 4 29 25 27 73 .265 .308 .355
2010 187 31 50 3 17 8 9 28 .267 .299 .380
2011 350 44 93 4 26 20 23 51 .266 .317 .340
2012 (Proj) 232 29 63 2 23 14 14 34 .272 .313 .349

Bloomquist is expected to get the most playing time at SS while Drew is out, although he has really struggled with the bat during Spring Training (.177/.188/.194, with 1 BB and 11K). He probably will do the same thing he always does - hit around .270, with few walks, very little power, and some good speed on the bases.

John McDonald AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2009 151 18 39 4 13 0 1 18 .258 .271 .384
2010 152 27 38 6 23 2 6 26 .250 .273 .454
2011 227 21 52 2 22 2 12 27 .229 .269 .308
2012 (Proj) 145 14 35 2 14 1 10 18 .241 .290 .338

McDonald will get some starts at SS while Drew is out, especially when there is a ground ball pitcher on the mound like Cahill or Saunders. He is very good defensively, but on offense is quite a bt worse than even Willie Bloomquist. He hasn't had an OBP over .280 since 2005; I'm projecting a big offensive year for him in 2012, all the way to a .290 OBP.

Third Base

Ryan Roberts AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2009 305 41 85 7 25 7 40 55 .279 .367 .416
2010 66 8 13 2 9 0 3 17 .197 .229 .348
2011 482 86 120 19 65 18 66 98 .249 .341 .427
2012 (Proj) 465 75 114 14 61 14 55 88 .245 .325 .378

Roberts had a great Spring Training in 2011, and carried that over to an excellent April. The rest of the season wasn't as good, but he continued to display good plate discipline all year. I admit that I was skeptical of Roberts last year, and I'm still not sure if he'll hit well enough to keep the 3B job all season.

Geoff Blum AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2007 330 34 83 5 33 0 32 52 .252 .319 .367
2008 325 36 78 14 53 1 21 54 .240 .287 .418
2009 381 34 94 10 49 0 33 61 .247 .314 .367
2010 202 22 54 2 22 0 15 33 .267 .321 .356
2011 49 8 11 2 10 0 5 9 .224 .309 .408
2012 (Proj) 152 15 37 3 17 0 14 26 .243 .307 .368

Blum missed almost all of the 2011 season with injuries, but should be back for the 2012 season. He can fill in at 3B, 2B, 1B, or LF, but probably not at SS anymore. He has been a pretty good pinch hitter in the past, but doesn't have the bat or the defense to be an everyday player anymore.

Outfield

Justin Upton AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2008 356 52 89 15 42 1 54 121 .250 .353 .463
2009 526 84 158 26 86 20 55 137 .300 .366 .532
2010 495 73 135 17 69 18 64 152 .273 .356 .442
2011 592 105 171 31 88 21 59 126 .289 .369 .529
2012 (Proj) 583 103 171 33 104 22 61 128 .293 .360 .527

Upton had a career high in OBP, HR, and RBI in 2011, and should be able to match or improve on those numbers in 2012. He will be the one outfielder who should be starting almost every day.

Chris Young AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2007 569 85 135 32 68 27 43 141 .237 .295 .467
2008 625 85 155 22 85 14 62 165 .248 .315 .443
2009 433 54 92 15 42 11 59 133 .212 .311 .400
2010 584 94 150 27 91 28 74 145 .257 .341 .452
2011 567 89 134 20 71 22 80 139 .236 .331 .420
2012 (Proj) 501 75 119 17 64 21 69 131 .238 .330 .417

Young drew a career high 80 Walks in 2011, and played very well defensively in CF. But he had a large platoon split in 2011, compiling a .939 OPS against LHP compared to only .694 against RHP. As a result, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Parra getting some starts in CF against RHP.

Gerardo Parra AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2009 455 59 132 5 60 5 25 89 .290 .324 .404
2010 364 31 95 3 30 1 23 76 .261 .308 .371
2011 445 55 130 8 46 15 43 82 .292 .357 .427
2012 (Proj) 330 41 91 4 37 13 33 55 .276 .342 .397

Parra showed improvement across the board in 2011, improving his AVG, OBP, and SLG significantly and also playing Gold Glove defense in LF. But he may see his playing time cut in 2012 from the addition of Jason Kubel. If Parra continues to hit, he could steal at bats from Chris Young in CF. Or if Kubel struggles, then Parra's defensive superiority could make him the everyday LF. But most likely, Kubel will start in LF against all RHP, and Parra will start in LF against LHP, and occasionally in CF against RHP.

Jason Kubel AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
2007 418 49 114 13 65 5 41 79 .273 .335 .450
2008 463 74 126 20 78 0 47 91 .272 .335 .471
2009 514 73 154 28 103 1 56 106 .300 .369 .539
2010 518 68 129 21 92 0 56 116 .249 .323 .427
2011 366 37 100 12 58 1 32 86 .273 .332 .434
2012 (Proj) 410 64 112 23 71 1 43 82 .273 .342 .480

I am expecting Kubel to bounce back in 2012 after a sub-par 2011 season. He should be the starter in LF against most RHP, and should supply a valuable left-handed power bat to go with Montero. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him replaced by Parra for defense or a pinch runner late in games.

Team Totals
Here is a summary of the projections for the entire team.

Player AB R H HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
Montero 485 74 138 19 87 1 48 101 .285 .349 .470
Blanco 108 10 25 3 11 0 11 27 .231 .303 .389
Goldschmidt 495 74 123 25 81 5 62 164 .248 .332 .455
Overbay 195 27 51 6 28 1 20 41 .262 .330 .410
Hill 525 70 145 18 71 14 36 84 .276 .323 .440
Drew 397 52 105 7 48 3 37 71 .264 .327 .413
Bloomquist 232 29 63 2 23 14 14 34 .272 .313 .349
McDonald 145 14 35 2 14 1 10 18 .241 .290 .338
Blum 152 15 37 3 17 0 14 26 .243 .307 .368
Roberts 465 75 114 14 61 14 55 88 .245 .325 .378
Upton 583 103 171 33 104 22 61 128 .293 .360 .527
Young 501 75 119 17 64 21 69 131 .238 .330 .417
Parra 330 41 91 4 37 13 33 55 .276 .342 .397
Kubel 410 64 112 21 71 1 42 82 .273 .341 .466
Pitchers 311 19 55 3 21 0 14 80 .177 .212 .232
5334 742 1384 177 738 110 526 1130 .259 .326 .420

I project the offense to be slightly better than 2011, when the team scored 731 runs for the year. The improvement is from the addition of Kubel, and the improvements at 1B and 2B, where Hill and Goldschmidt are expected to provide better production than the players who took many at bats at those positions last year. Next up is a look at the pitching staff.