How the D-backs turned it around

Improved pitching, excellent defense and Justin Upton have lifted Arizona in 2011

Updated: September 10, 2011, 2:44 PM ET
By Ben Jedlovec | Baseball Info Solutions
Justin UptonMark J. Rebilas/US PresswireJustin Upton has been one of the National League's best players this season.

The Arizona Diamondbacks had a tough 2010 season, losing nearly 100 games and finishing in last place in the National League West, 27 games behind the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Both manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes were cut loose near the end of the season as the organization hoped a new direction would bring more success. Kirk Gibson was given the reins as manager, while former San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers was given another shot in the front office.

This year has been a pleasant improvement for the D-backs, as they have a comfortable lead in the division and are primed for a return to the postseason. Remarkably, the team has gone from last to first in only one season with just a handful of seemingly minor roster changes. The team has scored runs at roughly the same pace as 2010, while allowing a full run per game less this season.