This won't be a brilliant division this year. The defending World Series champion Giants will be weaker, as will the Dodgers, the team that actually won the division last year. Neither the Diamondbacks nor the Rockies are substantially better. That has led some observers to pick the revamped Padres to contend for the NL West Crown. Somebody has to win this division, but I don't think it will be the Pads.
|Wil Myers swings at another ball out of the strike zone.|
Why the Padres could win: If Matt Kemp stays healthy, Will Middlebrooks regains his (long lost) mojo, somebody (Medica? Alones?) plays like an everyday first baseman, Justin Upton fulfills his potential, and Wil Myers isn't a bust, the Padres could ride a staff headed by Shields. Cashner, and Kennedy to glory.
Why it won't happen: Because Middlebrooks is lost, Kemp too fragile, Upton too temperamental, and Myers is a fraud. And because Brandon Morrow is the # 4 starter.
Why the Dodgers will win: Too much pitching. Greinke, Ryu, and Kershaw—MLB's best pitcher)–head the division's best staff. The Dodgers overpaid for McCarthy, but he only needs to be so-so (and so-so he'll be). Jimmy Rollins won't hit as well as Hanley Ramirez, but his defense will be way better. I look for Ethier to supplant Pederson in center, who isn't ready. AGon is steady at first. Crawford is much maligned, but a good player.
What could go wrong: Puig might be one of MLB's best players; he might also be to jerks what Miley Cyrus is to twerks. If he goes Bad Boy poisonous, I'm not sure this team has the character (or leadership) to right a listing ship.
What about the Giants? Nobody–and I mean nobody–wants to face Bumgarner, Cain, Hudson et. al in the playoffs, but the Giants have to get there first. Are Belt, Posey, Pagan, Pence, and Aoki enough to get them there? I'm skeptical. I'm downright cynical that Casey McGhee will make anyone forget Sandoval, as overrated as he is. Besides, it's an odd-numbered year and the Giants only win in even years!
Most likely to stink: The Diamondbacks could easily lost 100 games, despite a few good players (Goldschmidt, Hill, Trumbo). Their "ace" (Collmenter) won all of 11 games last year and two-thirds of their starters were cast-offs from a team short on pitching (Red Sox, 2014). Hellickson would be useful if healthy, but he's injured again and it's only March.
Could surprise: The Rockies have Morneau, Tulowitzki, Arenado, and GarGo. They will score some runs, but that won't matter unless the pitching is better than it looks.
|Should win, though I don't think you'll see them in the World Series.|
1. Dodgers (Call it prediction without conviction)
2. Padres (Not because they're all that good, but because the division is that weak)
3. Giants (Sometimes addition by subtraction really is subtraction)
4. Rockies (If they get pitching, they could pass the Giants and maybe the Padres)
5. Diamondbacks (Is that a dead snake causing that horrid smell?)