Best Reason to Believe the Diamondbacks Can Contend - 2011
Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher
"I wanted to act like I belong here. It's a dream come true. You see the stadium on TV, and you wish and hope you'll be out there like those guys." This is what Ian Kennedy was quoted as saying before his first start with the New York Yankees in 2007. And he acquitted himself well in that first major-league win, striking out six, walking two, and giving up five hits in seven innings. But it didn't go so well after that with the Bronx Bombers. After poor outings and health issues — including an aneurysm under his left armpit — he was in and out of the Yankees' minor-league organizations. He never pitched a full season until after he was involved in a three-way trade with New York and the Detroit Tigers in winter 2009. Pitching for the D-Backs against San Diego late last season, Kennedy struck out 12 Padres and gave up one hit and two walks in seven innings. It was the beginning of his resurgence, and by the time this season rolled around, he was named the Diamondbacks' opening-day starter. Now the ace of the Arizona staff, the Huntington Beach, California, native and University of Southern California alum was 13-5, with a 3.39 ERA, after the All-Star Game this season. With the Diamondbacks in the playoffs, they need Kennedy to produce. And he is capable. He's always had his share of strikeouts, with 168 last year and 113 this season. He's also capable of walking a lot of batters: 70 last year and 37 so far this season. An interesting side note: When Kennedy and his wife, former USC basketball player Allison Jaskowiak, were wed a few years ago, they left the church to the strains of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."