Part 2: Second Half for the Diamondbacks
Part 2: Even though the team is still below .500, and were just swept (yes swept) by the Chicago Cubs; they are in much better shape than they were six weeks ago. If you remember they were 11.5 games behind in late May. Let’s take a look at what to expect in the 2nd half.
Jason Kubel: He has been the Diamondbacks MVP so far. He leads the Diamondbacks with 15 HR and 60 RBI and is 3rd in NL in RBI. He leads NL with 11 Assists. Jason will be counted on to continue his consistent play in order for the Diamondbacks to make a playoff run. Kubel is currently listed as “day to day” due to an injury to his hamstring.
Stephen Drew: He has been struggling overall since returning from an ankle injury at the end of June. He did have a two-hit game that raised his batting average to just .226 on the season. He is still not starting every day. Drew will be needed in the 2nd half of the season. He is a quiet leader with both his bat and glove. Do not be surprised if the team lets him loose in the 2nd half that will show his ability that made him a solid and consistent hitter from 2008 through 2011.
Willie Bloomquist: He hit just .244 during the first month of the season, but since then batted .300 in May and then .341 in June. So far, July has been pretty solid for him as well, as he is hitting .386 in the three games after the All Star break. He is posting a career-best batting average so far this season and his bat and speed on the bases will be needed.
Chris Young: He has continued to struggle since he returned from his shoulder injury. Young is batting just .203 on the year and .143 since he returned. He will continue to lose playing time against right handed pitchers to Gerardo Parra unless he turns things around. Young has opened the second half of the season just 1 for 5 with the hit being a homerun. He has been trying to heat his bat up, but has struggled all season. Young’s recent power surge is encouraging, but he still has a long ways to go to becoming a must-start option again.
Miguel Montero: He is struggling so far in July. He entered Sunday’s series finale against the Cubs having gone just 4 for 28 thus far in July. He is a very important player for the Diamondbacks in the 2nd half. Montero owns a career .471 slugging percentage after the All-Star break and could be in for a big second half.
Aaron Hill: He extended his modest hitting streak to six games in Sunday’s series finale against the Cubs. He went 2 for 3 with a home run and a walk in the 3-1 loss. He singled in his first at-bat before launching a solo shot off Shawn Camp in the eighth inning. It was his 12th long ball of the season. Hill has gone 9 for 24 during his streak with two RBI. Hill has hit safely in 20 of his last 22 games and is batting .380 with five homers and 14 RBI during that span. He is having a resurgent campaign in his first full season in Arizona and his .509 slugging percentage is over 80 points above his career mark. Hill will need to keep his first half numbers rolling into the second half; as historically he slows down his power and average in the second half.
Paul Goldschmidt: He keeps slugging away. He finished the first half of the season by hitting a homerun and driving in four runs last Sunday against the Dodgers. He also had a double for the third time in four games. Goldschmidt is batting .370 with one homer, four doubles and seven RBI in July games. He also has two stolen bases. He will be counted on to continue his power and excellent defense in the 2nd half.
Justin Upton: Justin is the final player we will take a look at. The Diamondbacks are seriously open to the idea of trading Upton. While the team is open to the idea, there may be only a few teams with the players to acquire the star outfielder. Let’s hope fans still believe that Upton will spend the rest of the season with the Diamondbacks and that he will have a strong 2nd half as he continues to recover from his nagging thumb injury. Justin really came alive facing the Dodgers, going 7-for-15 and getting some big RBI(s) against them. He needs to be consistent in order for the Diamondbacks to make a playoff run. Upton needs to be a leader and “shake-off” the trade rumors and the fans opinions, and let his play on the field do the talking.
The Diamondbacks are in good shape to make a run at the NL West title or a wildcard spot. Even though the Dodgers and Giants are battling each other for 1st Place right now; and the Dodgers will be getting Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier back; can their starting rotation continue to pitch as well as they did in the 1st half? And can the Dodgers continue to receive better than expected performances from position players like Bobby Abreu, Mark Ellis, and Jerry Hairston. The Giants are still near the bottom of the NL in scoring; despite an excellent first half from Melky Cabrera. Remember their middle infield is weak, and the other two outfield spots are still questionable. Their pitching has been solid even with Tim Lincecum’s horrible first half, but can it continue? The NL West will come down to which of these three teams will combine the better balance between hitting, pitching and defense.
I hope to see you at the ballpark.