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MLB Predictions / Previews: Arizona Diamondbacks

MLB Team Preview – Arizona Diamondbacks

Earlier this week in MLB betting, we discussed the rise and fall of the Colorado Rockies between 2007 and 2008, and how they were an extremely tough team to forecast this season. Well, their division rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks, are in a similar boat for the 2009 MLB odds. We know they have talent – particularly in the pitching department – but can the young bats catch up to the arms and lead the D’Backs to the playoffs?

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Two seasons ago, when the Diamondbacks won the NL West, their offense may have been ahead of schedule. Chris Young jacked 32 bombs before regressing to 22 last season. Eric Byrnes’ 21-homer, 83-RBI, 50-steal season looks like a fluke after his 2008 was a write-off in MLB betting. The offense as a whole took a step back last season but could be ready for a step forward now. Conor Jackson has established himself as a new Mark Grace – a sweet swinger with gap power who will hit for average. He should be a stable presence in the middle of the order. Young and Mark Reynolds both strike out like crazy, but both can still help ‘Zona’s offense with their power.

The offensive X-Factor for the Rattlers (does anyone call them that, or did I just make that up?) this season is Justin Upton. The 2005 first-overall pick, like brother B.J, has oodles of potential. His average homer distance of 417 feet in 2008 led the majors and he is only the 15th hitter in MLB betting history to post an OPS above .800 in his first 400 at bats before age 20. Among the others who did so: Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb and Ken Griffey Jr. Unfortunately, Upton struggled mightily this spring and has to fight for playing time opening the season, so 2009 may not be his coming-out party.

Discussing the D-backs’ starting pitching brings a smile to most online betting fans’ faces. The one-two punch of Brandon Webb and Dan Haren is perhaps the best in baseball. Joining them this season, assuming he can stay healthy, is prodigy Max Scherzer. With his electric stuff, Scherzer fanned 66 batters in 56 innings last season, so he has potential to be the breakout star of the 2009 MLB odds.

The Arizona bullpen isn’t horrible but it’s not exactly stable either. Chad Qualls gets the call at closer but, as of April 8, had 16 career saves versus 20 blown saves. If he can’t handle the heat, Tony Pena and Jon Rauch both have a shot a closing, but neither is a lights-out guy. If Arizona is contending come trade deadline day – and they should be – it may have to trade for a more dominant stopper.

The NL West looks weak at the sportsbook this season, so the D-backs should compete for the division crown. They’re by far the Dodgers’ toughest competition.

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  1. The Diamondacks should be competitive enough to keep pace with the Dodgers in the AL West. While hitting may be a question mark I believe they will get enough out of their bats to keep them near the top.