The Arizona Diamondbacks experienced quite the turnaround season in 2011, going from the middle of the NL West to among the best teams in the National League. The club came up just short of advancing in the NLDS and one can only be excited for the future with the amount of young talent assembled on the roster.
The guys at ESPN recently released their 'Future Power Rankings" for each team in Major League Baseball, ranking them from No. 1-30. The D-backs came in high on the list, but just how high did they go? We have the answer after the page jump...
From the ESPN rankings, Arizona came in ranked 8th, the highest of any team in the NL West. Here was Buster Olney's take on the franchise.
It's funny what a difference a year makes. If we did these rankings a year ago, the D-backs probably would have been in the bottom third. But then Justin Upton became a superstar, Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson developed into high-end starters and the club added two top-10 draft picks, one of whom (Trevor Bauer) is ready to contribute this season.
The NL West does not have a clear-cut best team and figures to be wide open for the next few seasons. Expect Arizona to stay in the hunt for the foreseeable future, perhaps adding a division title or two in the process.
Financial restrictions may hold the team back somewhat in the coming years, especially once guys like Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy start earning much more money than what they are currently making, but you have to like the direction the club is going.
Among the other teams in the division, the Rockies were ranked 15th, the Giants 17th, the Dodgers 19th and the Padres 20th, despite their top-ranked farm system.
Power rankings are pretty silly, but they're always fun to look at. Regardless of where the D-backs came in, their fans have a lot to be excited about.
For more on the team, head on over to AZ Snake Pit.