Continuing from this morning's season preview of the Diamondbacks…
Can the Diamondbacks' new-look outfield effectively replace Chris Young & Justin Upton?
This is going to be something to keep an eye on for this Diamondbacks team throughout the entire 2013 campaign. They lost some star power, and quite a bit of power, when they sent Chris Young off to the Oakland Athletics and Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves this winter. In some ways, their new-look outfield will improve their respective positions, while they'll come up short in other areas. Overall, the question is whether or not this outfield is better than it was last year.
Left field remains exactly the same, with Jason Kubel getting the starts. While Kubel's average wasn't overly impressive, his power numbers were the best we've seen in his career. He hit 30 home runs, knocked in 90 runs, and OPS'd .833, which was the second best number in his career. It's probably safe to say that he'll see a regression in 2013, at least a bit, especially in the field where he had a career-best 14 assists. Right off the bat, the outfield already is not as good as it was in 2012.
The center field spot that was previously occupied by Chris Young will be taken over by a different kind of player in Adam Eaton. Young had an extremely poor 2012, batting .231 and hitting just 14 home runs. It's safe to say that almost anyone they would have put out there would be an upgrade over Young. While Eaton may not bring the power that Young brought to the table, he could certainly play a more effective role for this team than CY did.
Eaton will provide the same type of defense out there. He's the type of guy that's going to go all out for every ball and on the basepaths. He'll provide a spark at the top of the order and steal some bases. And he gets on base, which is something that Young obviously had a tremendous problem doing. You could say that his presence there will be better for the Diamondbacks than Chris Young swinging out of his shoes every other at bat.
Then you have the big one. Cody Ross, assuming he's ready for Opening Day, will be replacing Justin Upton in right field. Upton was coming off of the most disappointing season of his career, hitting just 17 home runs to go along with his .280 average. His numbers weren't terrible, though. In fact, they were awfully similar to what Ross did in Boston. Ross hit five more homers, but Upton posted a batting average 13 points higher. That's going to be the interesting one to watch.
Upton had pretty much worn out his welcome in Arizona. That trade was inevitable, regardless of who took over in right. Whether or not Ross can match his production from the past couple of seasons with the Diamondbacks, now that he has a healthy new contract, remains to be seen. If he matches what he did last year, with 20+ homers and an average around .270, you could call it a win.
It's hard to compare last year's outfield to this year's group. It's even more difficult to say whether or not one will perform better than the other. But considering Eaton is absolutely going to be better for this team than Chris Young was, and Cody Ross is coming off of two very solid seasons, it's probably safe to say that the Arizona Diamondbacks are better off with this starting trio than they were last season.