Up next, the NL West. Arguably one of the most contested divisions even with the Dodgers winning the last 5 Division titles. The NL West boasted 3 playoff teams last year with the Diamondbacks and Rockies both making Wild Card spots, and have the chance to repeat this year as the Brewers or Cardinals are really the only teams that could steal one of those slots.
1st Place – Los Angeles Dodgers
Looking for their 6th division title in a row the Dodgers make a strong case in repeating. However, first lets talk about Turner’s injury. He has only improved over his last 4 years with the Dodgers, but will be taking a back seat “indefinitely” from a fastball to the wrist. Fun fact, Sophomore year of high school I was hit with a fastball to the wrist twice, in the same season, although those pitchers were throwing 40-50 mph slower than the big leaguers. Turner had a 5.8 WAR last year with a .322 average and 21 home runs. The dodgers replacement is going to most likely be Logan Forsythe, who struggled with only a 1.9 WAR, .224 average, and 6 home runs. Be that as it may, the rest of the team is well spoken for. Going around the diamond, the Dodgers have Cody Bellinger at first, veteran Chase Utley and Enrique Hernandez at second, Corey Seager at short, Yasmani Grandal behind the plate, and Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson, and Andrew Toles in the outfield. They ranked 2nd in the National league in doubles, 4th in home runs, and 1st in walks (including pitchers’ statistics). Their arms are even more impressive with a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, and Hyun-Jin Ryu having a team ERA of 3.38, which was the best in the NL along with Hits, runs, earned runs, and walks allowed, while also getting the most strikeouts, and getting the second most saves in NL to top it all off with the shut down closer, Kenley Jansen. Expect them to be top dogs once again this year.
2nd Place – Arizona Diamondbacks
Coming off of a hot year and wild card spot, the Diamondbacks are ready to contend for the NL West. With a formidable rotation in Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin, Taijuan Walker, and Zack Godley, the Diamondbacks pose a solid and consistent threat to the Dodgers’ throne. Greinke had a 6.4 WAR with a 3.20 ERA and 215 strikeouts, combined with Robbie Ray’s 5.4 WAR, 2.89 ERA, and 218 strikeouts, the rest of the rotation just has to win a few games to put the Diamondbacks right where they left off last year. Their bullpen did take a hit in losing Fernando Rodney even though he did not have his best year, although Archie Bradley is ready to step up and take the closing slot with a 1.73 ERA last year. Around the horn the Diamondbacks post formidable corners with Paul Goldscmidt who hit .297 with 36 home runs and 120 RBIs and Jake Lamb who has made his presence known over the last two years belting 59 Home Runs and 196 RBIs with a steady .249 average. Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed look to be the middle infield who have both been tearing up the Cactus league this spring although there are doubts about Ahmed’s health with his hand injury from last season. Lookout for the D-Backs snaking their way to the top of the NL West this season.
3rd Place – Colorado Rockies
Another powerful team from the Rockies this year will lead to an interesting NL West and wild card race. With an infield consisting of Ian Desmond at first who had a bit of a rough season last year but is most likely on the rebound, DJ LeMahieu at second with a career .302 average, Trevor Story at short who is waiting for a breakout season, and heavy hitting Nolan Arenado at the hot corner, the Rockies have a good leg to stand on. Adding to that the impressive Charlie Blackmon who had a 6 WAR, .331 average, and 37 home runs last year, another hopeful rebound in Carlos Gonzalez, and the option of Gerardo Parra and David Dahl, make for a solid case to be one of the better outfields in baseball. Chris Iannetta is raking in Spring Training and may have a powerful season among the leagues catchers. Jon Gray is looking to continue his improvement over the last few seasons and prove himself to be an ace for the Rockies, while the rest of their very young rotation can hopefully manage to keep a ceiling on their ERA as Coors Field is known for its favor to the offensive side to the game. If Wade Davis can keep a lid on a few more games this year, expect the Rockies to be right back in the thick of things.
4th Place – San Francisco Giants
While the Rockies have a few hopeful rebound or young players, the Giants as a team are looking to forget that last year ever happened. With some late offseason additions of Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria, the Giants hope for a healthy new year. With Madison Bumgarner back in the mix, the Giants rotation looks ready with Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Stratton, and Ty Blach. With the rock solid Buster Posey behind the plate with a .320 average and .861 OPS there isn’t really room for improvement at all there. The rest of the infield with Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford had pretty average or sub-par years hope to bounce back and play like they did in the earlier 2010s. If they can manage that the Giants may very well be in the mix with the Rockies and Diamondbacks, if not the Giants are looking to be stuffed back towards the bottom like last year.
5th Place – The San Diego Padres
My internet is giving out on me, I want to take a shower and go to bed. Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer are essentially the only names worth knowing on the Padres for the 2018 season. They might even have great years, with around 30 home runs and .300 averages. The Padres however will not.
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