By Scott Barzilla

The Diamondbacks surprised everyone last year when they jumped in to claim the NL West. Looking back, we shouldn’t have been surprised at all. Hindsight is 20/20 after all. This year they were heavily favored, but have gotten off to a slow start. Is it really a slow start or is it something we should have predicted? Total run index can answer that question.
















































Arizona Diamondbacks

Thank God for the Padres and Rockies. A part of this could be explained because of injuries. Stephen Drew has yet to come back from the fractured ankle he suffered last season, Chris Young has missed considerable time with injuries, and Justin Upton has gotten off to a slow start. Drew is supposed to come back any day now, but they have been saying that for the last couple of weeks. However, some this could be explained with what statisticians call regression.

Ryan Roberts came out of nowhere to claim the third base job last season and he seemingly has returned to obscurity. The same could be said for Josh Collmenter. Fortunately for the Dbacks, they are swimming in pitching prospects, so I’d expect them to make a comeback as soon as they settle on a five man staff. Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill have been as advertised so far, so all they need to do is find a couple of arms to join them. Also, getting Justin Upton to perform to his capabilities would help.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are flying fourth when TRI had them pegged for third. So, we really aren’t that far off here. The problem is pretty simple. Like in most seasons, the Rockies simply don’t have the arms to compete on a nightly basis. Jamie Moyer is a nice story, but he can’t carry a rotation. Jeremy Guthrie was supposed to supply innings, but he is on the shelf. Jhouyls Chacin has also gotten off to a rough start.

The most alarming development has been the struggles of Troy Tulowitzki. He isn’t off to an Albert Pujols type of start, but he has struggled offensively and defensively. Carlos Gonzalez is carrying the load with plenty of support from Michael Cuddyer. The catching combination of Ramon Hernandez and Wilin Rosario has also been very strong. Still, they desperately need some pitchers to step up to be competitive.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Matt Kemp is proving that 2011 wasn’t a fluke. The most encouraging development has to be the comeback campaign by Andre Ethier. He is not as good as Kemp, but he has driven in the most runs in the National League. A.J. Ellis is another encouraging development. TRI was pretty optimistic about him, but he has even outperformed those projections. The rest of the offense is nothing to write home about.

The pitching staff is stronger than a year ago because Chad Billingsley has pitched well in most of his starts. Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano are capable in the third and fourth starter slots. The Dodgers lack a lock down closer, but they do have good depth. The Dodgers probably will add something along the way with new ownership. If they can add a significant player they may have enough to hold off the Dbacks.

San Diego Padres

The Padres lack the talent to compete, but it will surprise everyone where they lack it. With the best pitcher’s park in baseball, offensive numbers make you think they would lack offense. TRI actually shows the lag on the pitching side of the equation. Edinson Volquez could be the comeback player of the year. He was terrible in Cincinnati, but has seemingly found a home in the spacious confines of Petco Park.

The rest of the pitching staff isn’t bad, but it’s not that good either. At least, they don’t have a pedigree of good performance. The Padres have done a good job of picking up talented pitchers that have underperformed and somehow gotten them to turn it around. Volquez is number one on that list, but Andrew Cashner may be another. If they can get him and a couple of others to step up they may get back into contention.

San Francisco Giants

The beard is out for the season, but he isn’t as dominant as people think. The only problem in San Francisco is offense. Melky Cabrera was a nice addition as it turned out, but he isn’t a dominant offensive player. Buster Posey has looked ordinary while Pablo Sandoval continues to have injury problems. The end result is a great pitching staff that has to be great every night for this team to win.

If Edinson Volquez doesn’t win the comeback player of the year award then Barry Zito will. He remains the most positive story for the Giants this year. While they are technically in second place, no one can feel that good about a .500 start. If any game embodies the highs and lows of the team it was a ten inning 1-0 win against the Phillies where Matt Cain pitched nine scoreless innings and still couldn’t get the win.

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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