The N.L. West has the potential to be one of the best divisions in baseball this year.
5) Rockies This could have been written in any Rockies preview since 1993: great lineup, bad pitching staff. The Rockies do not have any starting pitchers with an ERA beneath 4.00 last season. Not to mention the fact that Jose Reyes will be suspended to start the season.
While it’s not likely to be a good year for the team, Nolan Arenado will continue to shine as one of the game’s brightest stars. Carlos Gonzalez is a free agent after next season, and could become a hot name at the deadline.
4) Padres: The Padres are in limbo after last year’s whirlwind offseason. They have a pretty solid rotation with James Shields, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner. But their lineup is pretty bare aside from Matt Kemp and Derek Norris. If all goes well, they could finish around .500. But if it doesn’t, they could look to trade some of their starting pitchers at the deadline.
3) Giants: It’s an even year so the Giants are naturally due for a title. But they could be the odd team out in the West this season.
Denard Span was a huge acquisition for them for just three years and $31 million; he led the NL in hits during his last full season in 2014. Johnny Cueto struggled with the Royals last season, and he has had some health concerns in the past, so that signing poses a pretty big risk. The Jeff Samardzija signing was a headscratcher. He allowed more hits, runs and home runs than any other pitcher in the American League last year—yet gets $90 million. That rotation could backfire—Bumgarner is great, but Jake Peavy is aging and Matt Cain cannot be trusted at this point in his career. The Giants will contend this season, but will fall just short of the playoffs, meaning a team other than the Giants will win in an even year for the first time since 2008.
2) Diamondbacks: Arizona improved by 16 games last season—and should improve by a large margin this year. The additions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller make the Diamondbacks’ rotation arguably the National League’s best outside of the Mets. Tyler Clippard will bolster last year’s league-median bullpen.
The Diamondbacks’ lineup has two superstars in Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, and could have another one emerging in David Peralta. Patrick Corbin was an All-Star in 2013 before going down with Tommy John surgery, and will finally be healthy again this year. This would give the Diamondbacks three All-Star caliber pitchers Many experts aren’t high on the Diamondbacks, but the experts aren’t always right. Look for the Diamondbacks to contend as a Wild Card team.
1) Dodgers: Despite a quiet offseason, this team has one of the best upsides in the National League. The Dodgers may have lost Zack Greinke, but they made low-key solid additions like Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir that will deepen the rotation. Mega-prospect Corey Seager will also start the year in the majors, which gives them a big upgrade at shortstop.
The team’s lineup still has the presence of Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick, two consistent hitters. If Yasiel Puig can bounce back, Seager can have a Rookie of the Year campaign (which is probably the expectation) and Joc Pederson can play like he did in the first half of last season, the Dodgers will be the West’s team to beat. Also, given their grandiose spending habits and elite farm system, it’s safe to say that they’ll be substantial buyers come the deadline.