With Baseball officially kicking off on Sunday, it’s time to take a stab at predicting the success and downfalls of each division in the majors. We look at the NL West, where the San Francisco Giants contend in an even number year and the Los Angeles Dodgers try to hang on to a playoff spot.
1. San Francisco Giants – The “even number year” is overplayed but the Giants are no joke regardless. By acquiring Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto behind Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco will return back to its roots of solid starting pitching. Jake Peavy and Matt Cain provide enough upside to keep the Giants in games every night and the team still has good to great players in their primes at almost every infield position. A healthy Hunter Pence and Denard Span will go a long way and of course, Bruce Bochy‘s elite bullpen management.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks – It’s not often the teams who make the big splash in the winter go all the way to the top so the Diamondbacks will come up just short, but they should do enough to overtake the Dodgers and capture second place. Arizona has quietly formed a solid offense behind Paul Goldschmidt and a decent bullpen with Brad Ziegler and Tyler Clippard closing out games. Arizona did well to take Zack Greinke from their division rivals and even though it overpaid, Shelby Miller should provide depth along with Patrick Corbin in the rotation. Arizona is trending in the right direction, but is not quite there yet.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers – An example of “too little, too late” the Dodgers have a lot of reinforcements who could arrive in the rotation, but we don’t know when or what impact they may have. Clayton Kershaw and Scott Kazmir are in the rotation and Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda could add much needed depth to start the year, but Los Angeles is slowly trending downward despite a full year of Corey Seagar and with Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig still in the middle of the lineup. Speaking of Puig, this team has potential to melt down without Don Mattingly in town, and it starts the year with 10 players on the DL, a bad omen. Expect regression and some mental defeat from this group.
4. San Diego Padres – Last year’s winter spree didn’t quite work out well for the Padres who finished 74-88. Expect more of the same from San Diego who will not win with this core in tact. Since the team won’t be in the picture in an improved division, it could mean Tyson Ross or James Shields are moved, possibly with Fernando Rodney. San Diego needs a rebuild and doesn’t quite realize it yet.
5. Colorado Rockies – Arguably the worst team in baseball, the Rockies still have a solid offense at home, lead by MVP caliber, Nolan Arrenado, but will need a healthy Carlos Gonzalez and a nice year from rookie, Trevor Story just to have one positive facet of the game. It’s unclear how the bullpen will perform and the rotation is very likely the worst in baseball. The Rockies will win some high scoring games at home, and not much else.