The 2012 Arizona Diamondbacks were a disappointing team. There is no denying that. With all of the expectations placed on their shoulders based on how well they performed in 2011, many expected big things from this ball club. Some even thought they could win their second championship in club history. Instead, the D-Backs went .500, failing to make the postseason.
But just because the team underperformed, that does not mean that every individual on it did as well. In fact, that would be downright untruthful. The Diamondbacks had players step up to new heights, showing that they are cornerstone pieces to this organization and want to be here for the long haul.
That is why I am going to nominate a few D-Backs players for the MVP award and hand it out to who I think is the most deserving...
Kubel was unarguably the best free agent acquisition the Diamondbacks have had a good amount of time. He led the team in RBIs and home runs and said the outfield assist record, shattering the previous holders' high of 11 held by Eric Byrnes and teammate Gerardo Parra. The left handed batter was able to do it all and filled in nicely as an everyday player after many questioned the decision to take Parra out of that role.
Unfortunately, Kubel struggled mightily down the stretch. Out of his 90 total RBIs, only eight came in the months of August, September and the three games played in October. Although consistency became an issue, Kubel will be a key piece for the team next season.
Even though Upton did not play as well in 2012 as he did in his monster 2011 season, that does not mean he was not effective. He was among the best in the National League, just one shy of the league leader, Ryan Braun, who had 108 runs scored.
Questions will come up this winter as to whether or not Arizona trades their young star, as it seems they may be growing tired of waiting for him to develop into a superstar. Still, he is by far one of their better players with perhaps the most potential of anyone on their roster. He gets on base, drives in runs and, when he is hot, he can hit the ball for power with the best of them. Although he saw a slump in production this season, don't expect that to last forever. And don't think that an Upton slump is like everyone else's. He is still a very productive, every day player.
Like Upton, Kennedy slumped a bit in 2012, but he still managed to win 15 games for the club. That marks the second consecutive season in which he was won at least 15 games after winning 21 in 2011. Only Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb have managed to accomplish that feat.
Kennedy will be another player that GM Kevin Towers considers trading this winter with so many young players waiting in the wings to replace him. What Towers may struggle with is trading a former Cy Young candidate that can give you 200 innings or more every season with a respectable ERA. Kennedy did just that again in 2012, although allowing the long ball became an issue for him, as he allowed 28 home runs, which led the team.
Still, most pitchers would kill to have an ERA that floats around 4.00 or lower and the ability to go deep into games on a regular basis. That is what makes IPK such a valuable asset to the D-Backs organization.
When Kevin Towers was asked if he will pick up the $6.5 million club option on Putz for the 2013 season, he almost scoffed at the idea. Having a closer that can pitch in the mid to high 90's, work day in and day out, keep his ERA under 3 and get over 30 saves is a rare thing in this league. It would be crazy for Arizona not to keep him at leas tone more year.
At the age of 35, Arizona can eventually turn the reins over to David Hernandez, but there is no reason to deny Putz' productivity right now. He is one of the better closers in the game and one of the best pitchers on this Diamondbacks staff.
Where would the Diamondbacks be without their young stud, Wade Miley? A potential Rookie of the Year winner, Miley, like Kennedy, threw for almost 200 innings and walked less than 50 batters. He was by far the most consistent member of the rotation and he also won 16 games. After being one of the last players to make it out of Spring Training, Miley sure did prove his worth to the team.
After just one full year in the big leagues, Goldschmidt already appears to be a cornerstone of the franchise. He is always going to be a player that strikes out a lot, but his ability to hit for power, average and drive in runs all make up for that. Oh, and he is a pretty dang good first baseman, too.
He led the team with 43 doubles this year, while also hitting 20 bombs and 82 RBI's. After many questioned his ability to play on defense, Goldschmidt committed just 7 errors and proved to be one of the better prospects the team has had at the position in many, many years. He will be a huge part of this club moving forward.
What can you say about a guy that hits for the cycle twice in one season? He is one of the most clutch hitters on the team, gets base hits at key moments in games. His .302 average and 82 runs batted in are a testament to that. He also hit 26 home runs, good for second on the team.
More than anything, it was his reliable defense in the middle of the infield that helped propel the D-Backs. I personally believe he should be the recipient of a Gold Glove award this year, but popularity may hold him back from that accomplishment. Still, it was his gritty play and willingness to go hard every day that made him special. Anyone that plays 156 games or more in a season is okay in my book.
Montero is consistently one of the most overlooked catchers in baseball. He has the highest throw out rate of any catcher and bats for nearly a .300 average every year. His improvement during his tenure as a Diamondback has been fun to watch and because of how well he has played, he was awarded with a 5-year, $60 million deal this past season. The Diamondbacks know of the star they have and locked him up long term. If Montero can learn to ease up on his swing and control his frustration in the same way that he controls his pitchers from behind the plate, he will easily be regarded as the one of the best catchers in the MLB soon enough.
Winner: Aaron Hill
While Miley and Goldschmidt were a close second and third for me, I think the team benefited way too much from Hill for him to be overlooked. It is beyond me how this guy was not an All-Star, let alone how the Blue Jays gave him and John McDonald up for Kelly Johnson. Re-signing Hill to a longer deal was a very wise move by Kevin Towers and the front office, as they have now locked up perhaps the best second baseman in the National League.
Cheers to Aaron Hill. Let's hope his success lends itself to more Diamondbacks victories in 2013.