It's time for another stop on the preseason tour of MLB as we wind into another week of spring training games. This week we will look at what many consider the best division in the National League and maybe the best division in baseball. I am talking about the NL West, the same NL West that posted baseballs best overall winning percentage last season (.517). This division had the Dodgers to take the World Series to 7 games before falling to the Astros and claimed both NL Wild Cards spots with the Rockies and Diamondbacks.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 5/12 to win NL West, 5/2 to win NL Pennant, 6/1 to win World Series
While some regression can be expected from last year's monster season the Dodgers are still overwhelming favorites to again take down the division. Their offseason was primarily about keeping things in check from last season as there were no major moves of note. This team is stacked with one of the best rotations in baseball, the games premier closer, and a young offensive nucleus that is ready to mash.
The pitching staff is led by this generations best pitcher in Clayton Kershaw. It's a huge advantage having him take the mound every five days. He is joined by a group of fellow starters including Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. This starting staff is good and deep and should put the Dodgers in position to win plenty of games. The bullpen is anchored by the game's most dominant closer in Kenley Jansen. The guy is lights out and looks to celebrate plenty of Dodger W's this season.
Offensively, this team is young and will hit a lot of long balls. Two of their best hitters (Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger) are both younger than 24 and should only get better at the plate.
Arizona Diamondbacks: 13/2 NL West, 12/1 NL Pennant, 28/1 World Series
The Dbacks came out of nowhere last year to win 93 games and make the division series (losing to the above Dodgers). Much like the Dodgers this team is built on a solid starting rotation that will win a lot of game with pitching.
Zack Greinke will look to avoid this being his "bad year" as he leads the staff. The guy is capable of a Cy Young type year and is one of the best when he is on. He is joined by several guys on the right side of 30 including Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray, and Tajuan Walker. Fernando Rodney moved on to Minnesota so the closer situation should be better off regardless of who wins the race(Archie Bradley may be the current favorite).
And while the offense will be without mega slugger JD Martinez (Boston) they are still loaded with sluggers. Paul Goldschmidt is a perennial MVP candidate that will lead this group. Will be interesting to see the humidor effect on offense in Arizona.
San Francisco Giants: 7/1NL West, 14/1 NL Pennant, 25/1 World Series
This team did some major reloading after losing 98 games last year (most in MLB). They added Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, and Austin Jackson to bolster their lineup at various positions. The pitching staff will be led by 1-2 combo of Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto which should be a lethal punch combo as long as their health holds. This team will be better than the 64 games they won last year but it remains to be seen if they will have improved enough to matter.
Colorado Rockies: 15/2 NL West, 16/1 NL Pennant, 33/1 World Series
Little different teams from Rockies teams of the past as this edition actually has a good, young, deep pitching rotation. Colorado has developed a stable of young arms with the potential to be good, major league pitchers. Eight pitchers started for the Rockies in 2017 with none older than 28.
And with home games being in Colorado these guys will hit. Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenando are two of baseballs most feared bats whether they are in Coors Field or not. This team will have to hope for some improvement from supporting cast including Trevor Story.
San Diego Padres: 18/1 NL West, 50/1 NL Pennant, 100/1 World Series
Another year and surprise…the Padres are rebuilding. Looks to be another rough year here in San Diego. Lucky for the Marlins blow up or they may be the favorite to lead the NL in losses. Maybe the fanbase will give them a little love anyway since the NFL's Chargers recently left for LA leaving the Pads as the only show in town. Looking to end on a positive note? The Pads farm system is loaded and it is only a matter of time before some of these highly regarded prospects start paying dividends. Right?