The National League West has enjoyed much success since the start of the 2010 season, as three of World Series winners since then have come from the division.
All three of those winning teams, obviously, were the San Francisco Giants, who were the first team from the division to take home the World Series crown since the Arizona Diamondbacks did back in 2001.
Last year it was the Los Angeles Dodgers that came out of the West, however, their run to the Fall Classic was cut short by the Mets.
A number of big-name players either joined the division during the winter, or stayed inside the division but decided to go to another team.
There may be a sizeable gap between the top and the bottom of the division, however, the top of the division has a chance to make it one of the best in baseball.
So which team will come out on top? Read here to find out.
Arizona Diamondbacks, 79-83
After finishing with a record under .500 and third in the NL West last year, the Arizona Diamondbacks did a lot to improve themselves this winter.
Owner Ken Kendricks and company swooped in at the eleventh hour to make a huge splash in free agency, luring ace Zack Greinke away from LA and San Fran with a six-year, $206.5M deal. Greinke had the best season of his career last year, going 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP, good enough to finish second in the NL CY Young Award voting.
The D-Backs continued to bolster their pitching staff by adding reliever Tyler Clippard, also through free agency with a two-year contract, and by trading for starter Shelby Miller. Acquiring Miller did come at a price, as the club had to give up No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson.
Arizona didn’t do much to improve it’s lineup, though the one move it did make was a good one as the team added shortstop Jean Segura.
After blasting 33 home runs and driving in over 100 runs, as well as hitting over 35 doubles for a fourth year in a row, Paul Goldschmidt is primed for another MVP-worthy season. And this could be the year the young superstar gets the award.
One small setback is that it was announced Saturday that Diamondbacks All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock could start the season on the DL, due to an elbow injury.
It’s a fairly young team with some unproven potential in Arizona. And with already one year under his belt as manager, Chip Hale’s team is in position to make a move up the ladder in the division.
Prediction: Second place
Colorado Rockies, 68-94
There weren’t a whole lot of positive takeaways to be had from last season for the Colorado Rockies.
The team finished under .500 for the fifth year in a row, and ended the season in fifth place in the division for the third time in he last four years.
One of the few positive takeaways was a big one in that of third baseman Nolan Arenado, who had a break-out season in his third year in the big leagues. Arenado blasted 42 home runs, hit 43 doubles and also drove in 130 runs to go along with a .287/.323/.575 slash line.
Colorado didn’t do much to help surround Arenado with helpful talent, however, the team didn’t have as big of a fire sale as some around the game thought they would heading into the offseason. There was the possibility that, if the prices were right, potentially all three outfielders in Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and Corey Dickerson could be traded.
In reality, only Dickerson got moved, and the club signed Gerardo Parra to replace him in left field.
Colorado also added veteran relievers Jason Motte and Chad Qualls, both on two year deals, in hopes to help a pitching staff that had the worst team ERA in the majors a year ago, giving up nearly 850 runs.
Jorge De La Rosa had a bit of a disappointing season in 2015, and will hope to bounce back in 2016, much like the rest of the staff, who will all be hoping to have better years.
Arenado and company will find success in hitter-friendly Coors Field, offensively, but pitching and overall lack of great talent will ultimately be the downfall of this team.
Prediction: Fourth place
Los Angeles Dodgers, 92-70 (Lost in NLDS)
The Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League West division last year by a wide margin, finishing eight games ahead of the rival Giants, despite being seven games under .500 on the road in 2015.
Home advantage didn’t help in the playoffs, though, as the Dodgers bowed out in the first round at the hands of the Mets.
The offseason treated LA about as well as the playoffs did.
Los Angeles lost out on the Zack Greinke bidding war, the team was forced to re-sign the aging Chase Utley, and ended up way overpaying Brett Anderson after he accepted the team’s qualifying offer. Anderson, though, is expected to miss three to five months with a back injury.
So far this spring, injuries have been a common theme for Los Angeles. Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal are both recovering from offseason surgery, Corey Seager is dealing with a sprained knee, and starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu is expected to miss the first month of the season with a left shoulder injury.
On top of that, Andre Ethier is going to be sidelined 10-14 weeks due to a broken leg.
For a team that has one of the best odds to win the World Series, there are a lot of negatives surrounding this club. The Dodgers are old, are starting the season battered and bruised, it doesn’t appear this will be a great hitting team, at least until they get to full strength.
The problem with that is, by the time LA is a full strength, it could already be looking at a sizeable gap between it and the division leaders.
Kershaw got bamboozled when he signed his seven-year, $215M deal prior to the 2014 season. Los Angeles isn’t poised to win a championship anytime soon.
Prediction: Third place
San Diego Padres, 74-88
It’s going to be another tough year for the San Diego Padres. They simply aren’t as talented as the top teams in the division.
Is there talent on this team? Absolutely, there’s just not as much as Padres fans would like. That’s partially because two big talents left in the offseason through free agency, and a few more via trades.
Starting pitcher Ian Kennedy left in January to join the Royals on a five-year deal, and outfielder Justin Upton departed from the warmth of southern California to head to the Motor City, signing a lucrative six-year contract with the Tigers.
San Diego also traded away closer Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox, as well as first baseman Yonder Alonso and relief pitcher Marc Rzepczynski to the A’s. The Padres also sent Jedd Gyorko and cash to the Cardinals in exchange for outfielder Jon Jay.
Jay will sit center stage in an outfield consisting of Melvin Upton Jr. and Matt Kemp.
Along with Jay, two other notable pickups include Aramis Ramirez and Fernando Rodney.
Compared to the Rockies, the Padres are about even in talent across the board, however, the difference is that I see one major piece of the San Diego puzzle being moved at the trade deadline. That is James Shields.
San Diego will get off to a bad start to the season, and will find itself out of contention by the All-Star break. At that point the Padres will start fielding offers on Shields, and eventually trade him to a contender.
The eventual loss of Shields, and possibly others, will be too much.
Prediction: Fifth place
San Francisco Giants, 84-78
It’s an even-number calendar year so the San Francisco Giants are a lock to win the World Series, right?
Well, maybe it’s too early to deem the Giants World Series champs, but you can certainly make a case for them to win the division.
San Fran already had an ace in Madison Bumgarner, but added to its pitching arsenal by signing Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to big contracts, six and five years in length, respectively.
Sure the team lost important pieces from last year’s team such as Mike Leake, Yusmeiro Pettit, and Ryan Vogelsong in free agency, but you can argue that the addition of Cueto and Samardzija more than make up for it.
With that being said, though, the team with the second-best odds to win the World Series does have some flaws.
Depth is a big one. Across the diamond the Giants aren’t very deep.
Manager Bruce Bochy has one of the best starting lineups in the in the majors, with players like Buster Posey, Joe Panik, and Brandon Crawford in the infield. But if one of those players goes down, it could spell trouble.
With that said, though, Bochy has done a great job of managing injuries over the Giants recent run of success. And if a key player does go down, look for the Giants to be buyers at the trade deadline.
San Francisco’s impressive 1-2-3 punch at the top of the rotation should be enough to get the team through any rough patches, add in experienced pitchers in Jake Peavy and Matt Cain, as well as Chris Heston, who’s coming off a 12-win season, and it’s easy to see opposing teams are going to have a difficult time scoring a lot of runs against the Giants staff.
The old adage is pitching wins championships. It will at least help the Giants win the division.
Prediction: First place, playoff appearance
- San Francisco Giants
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Colorado Rockies
- San Diego Padres