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Work to do: ESPN projects Diamondbacks to win 76 games in 2017

Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt tosses his bat after striking out during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The Diamondbacks surely want to flip the page to the 2017 season, and with the Chicago Cubs closing out their World Series victory and new leaders in place for Arizona, it’s finally time to look ahead.

ESPN contributor Dan Szymborski, with his ZiPS projection system, unsurprisingly doesn’t see the D-backs’ fortunes changing much from a year ago.

ZiPS projects Arizona to win 76 games in 2016, good for a last-place tie with the Colorado Rockies in the NL West.

If Arizona thinks that it can just stand where it is and everything will just work out in 2017, it has another thing coming. But luckily for fans of one of 2016’s most disappointing teams, the ax mercilessly dropped on the team’s hapless front office, so no jokes about which first-round picks it’ll give away to Atlanta this winter.

Arizona only has a 3.5 percent chance of winning the division and the worst odds of making the playoffs with only a 9.1-percent shot, according to ZiPS.

Going bottom-up, the San Diego Padres are projected to be two wins better than the Rockies and D-backs, while the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are both expected to go 86-76. That said, the Dodgers have a better shot at winning the division — 46 percent to the Giants’ 41 percent.

An entire offseason lies ahead for the D-backs’ first-year general manager Mike Hazen, scouting guru Amiel Sawdaye and manager Torey Lovullo to tweak the roster, develop the current players and patch together a more competitive team. According to Szymborski, the Diamondbacks have reason to be optimistic when it comes to their future.

Well, at least compared to just a few months ago.

In are former Red Sox GM Mike Hazen and Boston’s head of amateur and international scouting, Amiel Sawdaye. Both bring Arizona’s front office something it was lacking at the top: knowledge of how front offices need to be run to be competitive in 2016 rather than in 1990.

ZiPS, by the way, again favors the Cubs to be the best team in baseball with 92 wins next year.

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