The NL West in recent years has been said to be one of the division’s where any team has a chance. That hasn’t been the case recently since the Dodgers have won the division the last four years. Let’s take a look at the NL West for this season.
We all know the Giants are the team the Dodgers always have to watch out for. This year, that may not necessarily be the case. The Giants struggled heavily last year due to their bullpen falling apart in the second half. Their closer, Santiago Casilla, led the league in blown saves with 9. Giants are attempting to fix that by signing Mark Melancon in the 2016 off-season. Melancon had 47 saves last year which ties him for second in the league with Kenley Jansen and Zach Britton. This will be a huge upgrade for the Giants and a killer for all NL West teams.
This was really all they did in the off-season that makes them “better.” They didn’t re-sign Sergio Romo, who’s now a Dodger. Nor did they re-sign Angel Pagan which leaves a huge gap in their outfield. The Giants not re-signing Pagan may actually be doing the Dodgers a favor due to the fact he has a career .297 average against them. As always, no matter how good either team is, watching the best rivalry in baseball never gets old.
The Rockies are always an interesting team coming in because you never know what you’re going to get with them. They have a very young and offensive powered team. Their starting rotation is usually their make or break. The biggest disappointment for the Rockies has already come out of Spring Training. This off-season the Rockies gave up their 11th overall draft pick to sign Ian Desmond. Desmond was going to be huge for the Rockies until he was hit by a pitch and broke his hand. They did sign Alexi Ramirez who will give them some great defense and infield depth. Although, his production at the plate hasn’t been anything to be excited about.
What the Rockies do have is Nolan Arenado, who is possibly the best third basemen in baseball. Arenado led the league in RBI’s last season and tied for first in home runs with Chris Carter. Arenado has a great glove and has won 4 consecutive Gold Glove awards.
On Arenado’s left, the Rockies have Trevor Story, who was a rookie last season. Story came into the league and made a name for himself very quickly. In 97 games last season he hit 27 home runs with 72 RBI’s. Some people possibly thought he could win Rookie of the Year until August came around and he tore a ligament in his finger, which sidelined him for the rest of 2016. But our very own Corey Seager took that award home instead.
Lastly, the Rockies signed Greg Holland, who didn’t play all of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery. Before this injury, he was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. It will be interesting to see if he can bounce back and become that great reliever again.
We could probably skip the Padres, as they’re being looked at as one of the worst teams in baseball this season. But we’ll go ahead and talk about them just because they’re a part of the NL West. The Padres have no real chance at contending for probably a few years to come. They’re working on rebuilding their team, but even then it’s still questionable if they are even doing that correctly.
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One positive the Padres did do this offseason was re-signing Will Myers to a 6-year contract. Myers is probably one of the only reliable bats they have in their lineup so it’s easy to see why they wanted to keep him. They also re-signed Yangervis Solarte who had a fairly good season last year with the Padres.
The Padres traded away Derek Norris after a horrendous 2016 season. However, they did sign Jhoulys Chacin, Trevor Cahill, and Clayton Richard. Who seem to be about the only players they’ve got going for them on their pitching staff.
The Diamondbacks situation is just more about players stepping up and staying healthy. They traded away some prospects and signed some ridiculous contracts that just haven’t panned out for them yet.
One thing the Diamondbacks need is for Greinke to be the pitcher he was for the Dodgers. Greinke had a terrible season last year compared to what we normally see out of him. Towards the middle of the season, he started to improve but he still wasn’t the pitcher the Diamondbacks were hoping they signed. If Greinke can get back to his old self, it could be quite scary for the teams facing him.
Taijuan Walker was a nice pickup for the Diamondbacks this offseason. Being able to add him to their rotation just adds a little bit more behind Greinke and Shelby Miller. Speaking of Shelby Miller that trade was a disaster from the minute the Diamondbacks agreed to it.
Miller was traded from the Braves to the Diamondbacks for Ender Inciarte, Aaron Blair, and Diamondbacks number one prospect at the time, Dansby Swanson. Diamondbacks were so focused on getting Miller they traded away Swanson who has now already been called up and playing in the big leagues for the Braves. If Miller doesn’t step it up this season he may just lose his spot in the starting rotation.
Diamondbacks signed Fernando Rodney as their possible closer depending on how he performs. Rodney started off 2016 well, but just declined as the season went on. AJ Pollock is also a name Diamondback fans hope to see in the lineup more this year. Pollock is very good center fielder and also can produce offensively, which the Diamondbacks need. They can only rely on just Paul Goldschmidt for so long.
No matter what happens this season the NL West race will be a very intriguing one, to say the least. With the greatest rivalry in baseball in this division alone, we’re bound to watch some great games this season. But there’s a reason the Dodgers are favored to win the division for the 5th consecutive season. The Dodgers have the talent and the depth to run away with the division. It’s just about performing at their expectations.