Syndication: Arizona Republic

We took a look at the Arizona Diamondbacks before last season and the conclusion was simple: the Wild Card is their ceiling. Sure enough, the Snakes fought and slithered their way into the playoffs on a Wild Card berth.

What nobody anticipated was Arizona upsetting the NL Central-winning Brewers in the Wild Card, sweeping their mighty NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, and then winning an amazing seven-game NLCS against Bryce Harper and the Phillies en route to the World Series.

Now, to be fair, the Diamondbacks overachieved more than Eli Manning in two Super Bowl runs. Of their 84 wins, 21 were one-run games. Arizona didn’t have the big bats to keep up with the eventual champion Texas Rangers, but the arms are there.

And as a new season dawns, the Diamondbacks seem ready to drive the ball more and prove last year was no fluke.

Greatest Addition: Eugenio Suarez. This is how you improve a lineup that ranked 23rd in home runs last year. Suarez is a durable third baseman who provided plenty of power in Seattle, mashing 53 taters in two seasons. Suarez also hit 49 home runs with the Reds in 2019, almost enough to make you forget he struck out 214 times last year.

He thankfully does a good job taking his walks while providing serviceable defense at third. At best, he boosts Arizona’s lineup and the team picks up his $15 million option. At worst, the Diamondbacks decide to sell at the deadline and move him for some prospects. One way or another, trading for Eugenio Suarez looks like a win-win.

Greatest Loss: Tommy Pham. Now almost 36 years old, Pham’s legacy will be one of a journeyman outfielder who had a few good seasons before settling into a platoon role. The Diamondbacks acquired him from the Mets at the deadline and he was a key piece of their playoff run, batting .279 with three homers in October. In the World Series alone, Pham hit .421.

Granted, Tommy Pham was never re-signing with Arizona. They opted to keep Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and have plenty of in-house outfield help too. But Pham just plays with this infectious, spark plug energy that trickles down to his teammates. Wherever he winds up signing, he’ll be productive.

Greatest Strength: Corbin Carroll. There’s no better feeling than watching a team’s homegrown prospect come up from the minors and become an instant star. Arizona got that and more with Carroll, who burst out of the starting gate and hit .285 with 25 home runs and 54 stolen bases. Naturally, the former Arizona State Sun Devil was the unanimous NL Rookie of the Year.

Better yet, Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen struck while the iron was hot and inked Carroll to an eight-year, $111 million extension. If he turns in another good year, we may need to start having the 40-40 conversation about him.

Greatest Weakness: Shaky pitching. Arizona arms ranked 20th in baseball with a 4.48 ERA in 2023. Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly were and still are a good 1-2 punch at the top, and lefty Eduardo Rodriguez was also signed in free agency. He turned in a career-best 3.30 ERA in Detroit last season and automatically boosts the Snakes’ rotation.

The problem, rather, lies in the back end of the rotation and also the bullpen. The Diamondbacks need marked improvement from Brandon Pfaadt, Ryne Nelson, and Tommy Henry, and for their bullpen to post better than a 4.22 ERA. Otherwise, 2023 may prove a one-hit wonder.

Will the Diamondbacks get back to the playoffs? As much as I love this team’s youth, I don’t see it happening. The Dodgers signed two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani and then added his pitching ace friend Yoshinobu Yamamoto just for fun. The Padres and Giants are also expected to be better this year. The Arizona Diamondbacks are a cool, young team who made smart moves this offseason, but the NL West is just too good.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.