The National League West has two of the most storied franchises in MLB history. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are always in a dog fight for the top spot. In the past 10 seasons, the Dodgers have six division titles, while San Francisco has won two division titles and three World Series titles.
The adage of the wild west certainly fits here, so don’t be surprised to see a major shake up in the division’s top teams.
5th: San Diego Padres
Projected 2017 Record: 64-98
With six straight losing seasons, the San Diego Padres are one of the worst teams in baseball. However, there is some talent in San Diego.
First basemen Wil Myers was an absolute steal for the Padres. He was acquired in 2015, and flourished in his first full season in the majors, hitting 28 bombs and swiping 28 bags. In addition to Myers, outfielders Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe will try to earn starting roles for the club. Both are top prospects and have tons of potential.
The Padres are sorely lacking in pitching. Jarred Cosart, Jhoulys Chacin and Trevor Cahill are the top pitchers in the Padres rotation. Top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza is not expected to make it to the big leagues this year.
The Padres are in for another long season, given their inept pitching and developing offense. There is still hope as prospects start to make their way to the majors.
4th: San Francisco Giants
Projected 2017 Record: 82-80
You would think the Giants are one of the top teams in the National League West after coming off a loss in the 2016 NLDS. That is not the case. As the offseason progressed, the teams around them got better, and the Giants stood pat.
They will rely on phenom Buster Posey to provide offense along with Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Those four could be their only main contributors, with a question mark in left field and poor seasons from Joe Panik and Eduardo Nunez in 2016.
The pitching staff will be the strength of the club in 2017. Anchored by perennial Cy Young candidate Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, they boast one of the best rotations in the National League. Pitching has been, and will remain, the focus of the Giants.
An adequate offense will benefit from their stellar pitching staff. If the Giants can find a spark on offense, they could get into the Wild Card.
3rd: Colorado Rockies
Projected 2017 Record: 84-78
Presently, the Colorado Rockies are a dark-horse candidate to make the playoffs. The additions of Ian Desmond and Greg Holland coupled with the improvements in their rotation have Colorado on the road to success.
Their offense is one of the deepest in the majors, with five players hitting 20 homers or more in 2016. Nolan Arenado is the rainmaker in Colorado’s lineup, posting back to back seasons with at least 40 homers and 130 RBIs. He is joined by Trevor Story and Carlos Gonzalez to form one of the most powerful lineups in all of baseball.
The thin Colorado air that helps fuel the offense also helps fuel the pitching staff’s ERA. 2016 was still a good year for pitchers in Colorado. If Tyler Chatwood, Chad Bettis, Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson can improve from last season, this club could be lethal.
A playoff run is not out of the question for the Rockies in 2017.
2nd: Arizona Diamondbacks
Projected 2017 Record: 85-77
With a busy 2015 offseason, the Diamondbacks were picked by many to be a dark-horse contender in the National League West. After underperforming, the Diamondbacks hope to turn things around in 2017.
Outfielders David Peralta and A.J. Pollock will look to return to form. Both of their seasons got cut short last year due to injuries. Full seasons from Brandon Drury and Jake Lamb helped to soften the blow, and they enter this season as entrenched starters. The offense will be led by Paul Goldschmidt, who hit 24 home runs and stole 32 bases in 2016.
Pitchers Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller will need to get back on track if the Diamondbacks are to contend this season. After posting a sparkling 1.66 ERA in 2015, Greinke’s ERA ballooned to 4.37 in 2016. However, a full offseason in Arizona will only help Greinke on his road back to dominance. Miller fared far worse in his first year in the desert. With a 6.15 ERA, Miller can only go up from here.
The talent is there in Arizona’s pitching staff to return them to contention. If they can put it together in 2017, the offense will be more than capable to drive the team to the playoffs.
1st: Los Angeles Dodgers
Projected 2017 Record: 92-70
The Dodgers are looking for their fifth straight division title this season. With the emergence of Corey Seager and steady veterans like Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner, Los Angeles has plenty of fire power to make it back to the playoffs.
Another source of offense will be outfielder Joc Pederson and catcher Yasmani Grandal. Also, don’t leave out veteran acquisition Logan Forsythe, who will solidify second base.
The Dodgers will also rely on some big names on the mound to return them to the playoffs. With a full season from Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, the rotation is one of the deepest in all of baseball. 20-year-old lefty Julio Urias will be playing his first full season in the majors after making 15 starts last season.
Furthermore, the Dodgers boast a talented roster loaded with all-star level players. It is their pitching that steals the show and should be the strength of a deep ball club.
“From Our Haus to Yours”