The National League West showcases the team that many believe are the favorites to win the World Series heading into 2014. How often though do we see a team that “everybody” agrees is the team to beat slip to reality when injuries and such come knocking on their door? Are the Dodgers going to fall into that same story line?
In your comments, we’d love to hear your predicted standings, your NL West MVP, NL West Best Pitcher, and NL West Top Sleeper.
5th Place: Colorado Rockies
As many Mets fans know, Dexter Fowler was sent to the Houston Astros this off-season, and while many Rockies fans may not have liked the moved then – I think they will really dislike the move when they see the negative defensive effects of the move.
This is a team to me, that is going to have trouble with their arms. So when you essentially diminish the defense by giving away Fowler, you’re not doing your pitchers any favors.
The addition of Brett Anderson could prove to be a good move for Colorado, but he isn’t a “save the day” type starting pitcher.
This is a team that will have trade rumors swirling about Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez all season long. If you’re paying attention to the Rockies in 2014, it’s because you’re curious where or if they end up being traded.
4th Place: San Francisco Giants
I understand this is likely not going to fly with many of you. But hear me out.
Everybody knows that in the NL, if you have pitching, you’re in good shape. The problem I have with San Francisco is I believe their rotation is relying on two big IF’s.
The first is whether or not Tim Lincecum can return to his winning ways, and if you have seen him this spring, you have your doubts. The second is whether or not Tim Hudson can stay healthy and be the guy this rotation needs on a consistent basis. If Hudson stays healthy, then yeah, I would say this team could fight for 3rd place or maybe even a wildcard.
The offense is still very bland. If there is any positive, it’s that Pablo Sandoval may be motivated by a new contract this year. I’m not a big Mike Morse fan, so I don’t even consider his addition as anything to really think about when predicting their offensive performance.
To me, this is a team that tries to do “just enough” at the plate, and I don’t like that. I think last year they showed that the model they’ve gone with can backfire tremendously. I’m expecting them to finish closer to .500, but not to be in any sort of playoff discussion.
3rd Place: San Diego Padres
I was a bit high on them last year, and I’ll stick with my positive outlook for this franchise. I actually really liked the decision to sign Josh Johnson here – I don’t think Johnson was a good fit for any team, but in San Diego, he may actually work. We’ve all seen what Johnson can do on his best days, so if he can find his winning ways again – he could be dangerous in San Diego.
Andrew Cashner to me is a guy who could be a recognizable name by many come All-Star break. He’s got the stuff to be a solid #2 type starter, and if he comes into that role, the Padres could be in real good shape.
Of course, there are negatives. The offense isn’t really too good, and if Chase Headley doesn’t find his way back to 2012 form, they could be in trouble at the plate.
I think this could be one of those “fun” teams to watch all year, but it’s going to take a little bit of luck and a lot of health in order for that to be the case.
2nd place: Arizona Diamondbacks
Without many paying attention to them, Arizona has suddenly become a top wildcard contender for the last two years now.
They made two significant moves as they head into the 2014 season that could make or break their playoff chances.
The first was adding Mark Trumbo to the mix. Now, they are gambling on Trumbo being able to power his way through the NL West (especially in Arizona), and have his strikeouts be worth his production. It’s a gamble, but it’s one that could pay off for this team.
The second was adding Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo is a guy many Mets fans are familiar with due to some recent desires to add him to the rotation. He’s a pretty consistent starter, and gives the team a 200+ innings guy that they can rely on. However, he is a guy that if you look at advanced metrics, he is sometimes more lucky than good. Will his luck run out?
The recent news that Patrick Corbin is likely out for the entire year doesn’t help this prediction for sure. However, as bad as that news is, I don’t think it kills their year as much as some think. This team has proven to be resilient and has an MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt, I think they can overcome the loss of their 24 year old starter and contend for a playoff berth.
1st Place: Los Angeles Dodgers
There is nothing I’d like more than to see my prediction be wrong, but I just cannot see how that might happen without catastrophic injuries.
This team is loaded, there is no other way to put it.
The Dodgers rotation is as nasty as you’ll find in the sport today. When you have the best pitcher in baseball pitching AHEAD of a former Cy Young winner in Greinke, paired with Hyun-jin Ry, Dan Haren and Paul Maholm or Josh Beckett, I’m not sure how your offense goes into any game thinking they have to overachieve for a victory.
The offense is as loaded as the rotation, and everybody is waiting to see how Yasiel Puig does with a full year under his belt, not only in terms of production – but in terms of maturity as well. He is probably the most entertaining player to watch in baseball today, and if he can back up his 2013 campaign with a better 2014, he could be an MVP candidate.
Speaking of MVP candidates, the Dodgers in reality, probably won’t have one because their lineup is filled with guys who could win an MVP.
Matt Kemp may be the key to all of the Dodgers success or failure though. If Kemp can get healthy, and stay healthy, I don’t see how this offense isn’t the best in baseball.
This team is not only good on paper, they are as deep as any team in baseball. They will be able to overcome an injury or two (so long as it’s not Kershaw), and that makes them a no brainer 1st place pick to me.
NL West MVP: Paul Goldschmidt – Mostly because I think if Arizona is in the mix, it’s in large part due to his production and he isn’t surrounded by studs like Dodger hitters are.
NL West Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw – He’s the best there is.
NL West Sleeper: Andrew Cashner – He had a decent 2013 campaign, but it was highly under the radar. I think he breaks out this year to become one of the NL’s best starters.
Jessep did a great job detailing his picks, so I’m not going to reiterate everything he said, I’ll just point out where I disagree. From last to first, the division shapes up like this for me: Colorado/San Diego/San Francisco/Arizona/LA. The reason I have SD behind SF is not because I think SF will be any good (they spent an insane amount of money simply to bring back the same 76 win team they fielded last year), but because Headley will be traded at some point this season, which will decimate their already weak offense. And with Johnson and Cashner being question marks, they fall to 4th place. Not fifth, though. Colorado is that bad.
What I would like to add is that even though I chose Arizona to finish second, I don’t expect a good year out of them. Jessep think they will contend, and I most certainly do not. The second place finish is more like an indictment on the rest of the division than it is a vote of confidence for Arizona. Corbin hurts bad and Arroyo was a terrible signing. His ERA will likely hover around 4.50 and could be traded at the deadline, probably back to the Red Sox. I think LA will be the only team above .500 and will win the division by 20 games
NL West MVP: Paul Goldschmidt – His numbers will tell their own story.
NL West Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw – Period.
NL West Sleeper: Brandon Belt – He’s going to hit in the middle of the lineup and have the chance to do some real damage. He fixed a mechanical issue with his swing and tore it up in August and September. He’s going to challenge Goldschmidt for the division MVP.