After the playoff run in 2011 and the young talent on board, the first half of the D-backs season can only be described as disappointing. The favorite to win the NL by many, the D-backs needed the final 3 wins over the Dodgers to close their lead to 4 games. The positives for the season are much harder to find than the negatives but it is a long season and with the new Wild Card rules everyone in the NL, outside of the Cubs, has a chance. Let’s break down the good and the bad of the first half:
Better than expected:
- Wade Miley – After spring training if someone told you the D-Backs would have a rookie all-star pitcher, Miley would have likely been your third choice after Bauer and Skaggs. Skaggs has been solid but not spectacular in the minors and has some work to do to make the 40 man roster later this season. After Bauer dominated class AA and AAA he has had a rough start to his major league career. Knocked around in his first two starts he is showing the same propensity as in the minors to give hitters a free pass… now back to the good. Miley was as dominant as any pitcher in the NL in the first half, sporting a 2.19 ERA through July 24 before a couple of bad outings. The first 15 starts were likely beyond what we can expect from him but I see him continuing his solid season with a mid 3 ERA for the second half.
- Aaron Hill – Two cycles in 11 days is pretty unbelievable. While this is what got him national news it has been his consistency in the two hole that has made him a valuable asset. As with any player he has had ups and downs but not only has he won games by himself he has also provided important clutch hits and better than expected defense at second base.
- Jason Kubel – Outside of Melky Cabrera in SF he has been the most valuable new addition in the NL West. After a slow start Kubel has heated up and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. He is the D-Backs first half MVP and it’s a shame he didn’t get any talk about an all-star berth.
- Justin Upton – He has struggled to get into a groove all season after finishing fourth in the MVP voting last season. The fans have become frustrated and started booing him, Upton’s response was “To be honest with you, I don’t care anything about what the fans think of me.” An uninspired first half and even worse reaction to your criticism. His numbers are down, most notably his home runs, but returning to form for a solid month would make those numbers look much better.
- Chris Young – After a torrid start to the season with 5 home runs and 13 RBIs in the first 11 games of the season, CY crashed into the outfield wall which landed him on the DL for a month. In the 37 games since he returned from injury he has only 3 home runs and 6 RBIs. Unfortunately for Young and the D-backs he has been unable to even sniff the success he had early in the season.
- Ian Kennedy/Daniel Hudson – After Kennedy finished tied for the most wins in the NL in 2011 with 21 and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting, expectations in 2012 became very high. His ERA has risen from 2.88 to 4.26 and only provided 6 wins in the first half. Hudson’s season has ended prematurely with Tommy John surgery but even before that he was he was also having trouble duplicating the success he had in 2011. Prior to the injury, his ERA was four runs higher than last season and was allowing opposing hitters to hit .332 against him. These two were supposed to anchor the front of the rotation this season but have not lived up to their expectations.
The D-Backs were scuffling and appeared to be heading into the All Star break on a low note after a season high 6 losses in a row. Down 2-0 against the Dodgers the D-Backs were on the verge of a 7 game losing streak and falling 8 games behind the division leading Dodgers. A five run explosion in the bottom of the sixth inning was the beginning of what would be a very important final three victories over LA. In third place and only four games out of the division lead the D-Backs will have some work to do in the second half of the season if they want to defend their division title but they are well within striking distance. Based on the underwhelming play of their stars I think the D-Backs should be happy to be where they are at in the standings.
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