In 2012, it was not pretty for the Diamondbacks. It was mostly frustrating. Even still, there were plenty of moments that made fans smile and cheer. Here are what I think were the top five moments/highlights of the year.
1. Opening Night win
With a season full of expectations, there was something electric when the season started at Chase Field, and it really felt that there was something special about this team. When they faced off against San Francisco Giants nemesis Tim Lincecum and homered off him twice (Chris Young and Paul Goldschmidt -- of course Paul Goldschmidt) in the first inning, it was a special moment. Fans could feel that 2011 magic again. Too bad it faltered after just a few games, but it was truly one of the most exciting games and moments of the season.
2. Ryan Roberts' walk-off homer to beat Oakland
In June, there was a bit of turmoil with the team. Owner Ken Kendrick publicly called out Justin Upton and Stephen Drew in the same interview and there was uneasiness in the clubhouse. However, on June 8, with the D-backs down 6-0 at one point in the game and 8-6 with two outs in the ninth to the Oakland Athletics (yes, the same team that is in the postseason now after completing one of the greatest late-season takeovers in a division), Chris Young walked and Aaron Hill singled. Third baseman Ryan Roberts, who had struggled for most of the season, came up against closer Brian Fuentes and homered on a 2-1 pitch. That was as good a moment as there was during the season. It was a classic 2011 win. They rallied and kept plugging away until they got the huge hit.
3. Aaron Hill's two (!!) cycles
Hitting for the cycle is one of the hardest things to do in baseball to begin with, but Hill did it twice in the same season ... and within 11 days of one another. Hill already was on his way to having a career year (he should earn a Silver Slugger for his position). His first one took a homer in his last at-bat and the second took the most difficult to get -- a triple. It was the first time since 1932 that a player had done that.
4. Wade Miley in the All-Star Game
Miley was not even expected to make the roster coming out of Spring Training, and yet he did as a long reliever. He was given a shot at starting when Josh Collmenter struggled badly in the rotation to start the year. And from there, Miley became the staff ace. He was the team's lone All-Star and got to pitch in the final inning of the National League victory. The moment itself was not great, but to have him selected for the team and be THE standout player for the D-backs in the first half of the season was pretty special. The best part of it all with Miley is his attitude. He was truly just glad to be in the majors and was having a ton of fun. He hated losing and felt terrible when he did not perform well, but he was a joy to talk to in the clubhouse in addition to being fun to watch in the field.
5. The youth movement while battling for the playoffs
No, it wasn't a specific moment and the playoff push was disappointing, but the biggest plus from this season was seeing how bright the future is. The future of the starting rotation looks amazing. Ian Kennedy is 27. Trevor Cahill is 24. Wade Miley is 25. Add to the mix Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Josh Collmenter and Trevor Bauer and you have youth, huge talent and, more important, competition for spots to really push these guys to be top-flight major leaguers. Add to that young position players Paul Goldschmidt, who already is a team leader, and Adam Eaton, who emerged this season, and you have the look of a team that will contend for some time. It didn't happen this year for the team, but there is certainly no feeling of despair for the future.