D-backs looking to make progress in 2022

Arizona aiming for growth, better results after going 52-110 last season

April 4th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- This spring, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has made it a point not to talk to his team about the 2021 season in which they went 52-110, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been on his mind.

"It's motivating me, and it gets me going," Lovullo said. "It gets me charged up and I get out of bed with a lot to prove to myself and the people around me every single day. What I think happens is winners find a way to learn from their mistakes and they turn that into growth, and I think that's the way I'm looking at it."

The D-backs have stayed away from the "rebuilding" label, something that general manager Mike Hazen hates. But it's clear that in 2022, they will continue to give their young prospects more playing time.

Here's a preview of what to look for from the D-backs in 2022.

What needs to go right?
This year's focus is the continued growth and development of what the D-backs hope will be the core of their next postseason team. They need Daulton Varsho to continue to build on his strong second half of 2021, while also seeing progress/development from outfielders Pavin Smith and Jake McCarthy and infielders like Josh Rojas and Geraldo Perdomo. This will also be the year some of the top-rated arms in the organization -- like Ryne Nelson, Drey Jameson, Brandon Pfaadt and Tommy Henry -- should progress to the big leagues.

Great unknown: Health
No one in the front office will use it as an excuse, but injuries played a big role in the D-backs' struggles last year. They went 14-12 in April, then lost four-fifths of their starting rotation. Will they be able to stay healthy this year? That's a question no one can answer with any certainty about any team. Without a ton of depth as they await the next infusion of young talent, keeping their regulars on the field will be a huge priority.

Team MVP will be … Ketel Marte
Marte was one of the first players Hazen acquired when he took over as GM, and he recently signed Marte to another contract extension, believing that he is a superstar player. When he's been healthy, Marte has indeed been elite. He finished fourth in National League MVP Award voting in 2019, and last year he had a .909 OPS, despite playing in only 90 games due to hamstring issues. In an attempt to both keep him healthy and productive, the D-backs have decided to play Marte solely at second base this year, rather than shifting him between second and center field.

Team Cy Young will be ... Zac Gallen
Before the start of last year, Gallen was a fashionable sleeper pick for NL Cy Young. He was dominant for the D-backs after coming over at the Trade Deadline in 2019, and he had also put together an excellent '20 season. In Spring Training in '21, though, he sustained a hairline fracture in his right forearm while taking batting practice, which caused him to miss the first couple weeks of the season. That was the first of several injuries that caused his year to be one of stops and starts, throwing off his ability to find some consistency. Provided he's healthy, Gallen should be the leader of the Arizona staff.

Bold prediction
It's Spring Training, a time for optimism, so here it goes. The D-backs stay healthy, Gallen dominates on the mound, the rest of the rotation holds its own, Marte stays healthy and has a similar season to 2019, and their young players continue to progress. Most importantly, they avoid major injuries. All of that happens and the D-backs surprise people by being competitive and finish the year with an 82-80 record and some momentum heading into '23.