NL West Predictions

We start out west with the National League. This is a pretty obvious race to predict the winner.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Good - The acquisition of Mookie Betts transformed this outfield into one of the best in baseball. Mookie and Cody Bellinger combine both offense and defense and are probably 1-2 in the National League as far as top outfielders. Joc Pederson and A.J. Pollock will form a solid platoon in left. The infielders have no slackers either with Max Muncy, Justin Turner and Corey Seager combining for 92 homeruns last year. The open spot will be filled by super rookie Gavin Lux at second base. The starting pitching does not have as much depth as last year but Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler make a good one two punch.

Bad - Not a lot to find here. The relief pitching appears a little spotty. Kenley Jensen had an off year last year and the Dodgers are relying on retreads Joe Kelly and Blake Treinen to set up for him if he struggles. This will mean they will have to pitch better than last year.

Ugly - Nothing ugly about this team, but it could get ugly if the Dodgers under perform and fail to win 100 games.

Rookies - Gavin Lux is a strong favorite to win rookie of the year with his play at second base. He can also play short if something should happen to Seager. Also, keeping the glove of Max Muncy away from second base improves the defense. The lack of depth in the rotation with the departures of Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu will give Dustin May an opportunity to start. He pitched mostly in relief last year but did get four starts. Will Smith would have to be injured before Keibert Ruiz would be given an opportunity to catch. With a good spring Tony Gonsolin could work himself in the rotation. He could begin the season in the bullpen.

Expected Finish - If they don’t win this division it may be one of the biggest shocks in baseball. They should win it by at least 20 games.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks

Good - The acquisition of Starling Marte gives them a strong outfield with David Peralta and free agent acquisition Kole Calhoun surrounding him at the corners. It also allows Ketel Marte to move to second and Eduardo Escobar to play third, strengthening those two positions. Those five have the potential to combine for 150 homeruns. The big question marks are Ketel Marte replicating his break out 2019 season and Peralta staying healthy. Nick Ahmed shows he can play defense with any shortstop, but his bat is a little soft.

Bad - The acquisition of Madison Bumgarner would be good if it had been done four years ago. He has hit 30 and it has been since 2016 when he last had a good season. Maybe he can find the Justin Verlander juice and resurrect his career in a new city. Robbie Ray, who starts behind him in the number two spot has seen his numbers drop, including the velocity on his fastball. Not really sold on Christian Walker, though he did outperform Paul Goldschmidt last year, the player he replaced at first base.

Ugly - Couldn’t find anything ugly here other than being in the same division as the Dodgers.

Rookies - If Jon Duplantier can avoid injury he could squeeze himself into this rotation by mid-season. Last year he struggled finding the plate resulting in a 5.21 ERA in AAA. Josh Rojas could win a job in a utility roles. Rojas was the player that almost sunk the Justin Verlander trade when Jeff Luhnow thought it was a big ask by the Diamondbacks to add him as a third player in the trade.

Expected Finish - Second place, but out of the wild card race.

3. Colorado Rockies

Good - They have an MVP over at third base in Nolan Arenado. The Rockies were looking to trade him so if that happens this position would drop. If Trevor Story can stay healthy the left side of the infield would be exceptional.

Bad - Daniel Murphy has just lost too much in the bat to fit at first base. His defense there also does not justify him playing the position. No real alternatives except possibly moving Ryan McMahon there. David Dahl needs to stay healthy and Raimel Tapia needs to find the bat that hit over .300 in the minor leagues. They will be battling the over paid Ian Desmond for one of two outfield spots. Charlie Blackmon is not the outfielder he used to be, but he was good enough to hit 30 plus homeruns last year.

Ugly - The pitching. There is no ace in the rotation or closer in the bullpen. They need to find bounce back years from German Marquez and Kyle Freeland. Wade Davis couldn’t get anyone out last year (8.65 ERA). Getting the three to put up 2018 numbers would help in crafting more wins. It will be a battle in the spring to find the closer.

Rookies - Brendan Rodgers shoulder injury will prevent him from playing until mid-season. He seems to be blocked at all the infield positions. Sam Hilliard does not have to do much but bash 30 plus homeruns to win the left field job. He needs to improve his ability to make contact.

Expected Finish - The starting pitching will have to make a big turn around to finish anything higher than third place.

4. San Diego Padres

Good - They got one of the strongest left sides in baseball in Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. Tatis needs to stay healthy and Machado needs to improve his numbers in a pitcher’s park. Machado has hit 30 plus homeruns in his last five seasons but last year was the second year of those five when he slugged less than .500. Chris Paddack has ace like potential and the Padres have some young hurlers like McKenzie Gore and Luis Patino who may improve the rotation toward the end of the year. Kirby Yates is a solid closer. The Padres may trade him before the trade deadline to acquire more prospects, leaving the recently acquired Emilio Pagan as the closer. Both are solid in the bullpen.

Bad - The starting rotation after Paddock is very vanilla and will give up a lot of runs. Short outings may tax what is a good bullpen, leaving them tired and performing below expectations. Eventually the youngsters will filter in and that will result in inconsistency. The potential for this starting rotation is good, but they are still a year or two away. The hope is Jurickson Profar can replicate his 2018 season when he hit .254 with 20 homeruns. He hit 20 homeruns last year but his batting average sunk to .218. Veteran Brian Dozier was acquired to fill the position in case Profar struggled, but his best days are behind him.

Ugly - Putting Josh Naylor out in left field. His best position is DH, though he might be able to be passable at first. Putting him out into the outfield is an impending disaster. Fortunately for the Padres they have a lot of depth in the outfield, but the Padres would like to find a spot for Naylor’s bat.

Rookie - They have three pitchers who could see significant time in the starting rotation in MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patino and Adrian Morejon. None of them will probably be up before June. Both Michel Baez and Andres Munoz have closer stuff and may break camp in the Padres bullpen. Jake Cronenworth is a possible two way/utility player. His primary position is short but he can play multiple positions, including pitch, with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s.

Expected Finish - Their farm system is one of the best in baseball, but the talent is still a year or two away from competing for a playoff spot.

San Francisco Giants

Good - They really have no good in this lineup. Buster Posey, Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford were once good in their prime but now they are just average, waiting for their replacement to rise up and fill their position in a couple years. In the meantime they will produce average numbers.

Bad - As usual the outfield lacks any big names. It would be asking a lot to have Mike Yastrzemski put up similar numbers to last year. His name is the biggest name, but it is only because his grandfather is Carl. The corners could be rotated a lot with Jaylin Davis being given an opportunity. Last year Jaylin hit 35 homeruns in the minor leagues and he added one in the majors. The bullpen lacks a closer. They will turn to Tony Watson and if he fails it could become bullpen by committee.

Ugly - With the departure of Madison Bumgarner the Giants rotation lacks an ace. Johnny Cueto is coming off injury, Jeff Samardzija is just a year away from a 6.25 ERA and Kevin Gausman has never met his potential. Before the season ends you could see 10 or more different arms trying to salvage this rotation.

Rookies - Joey Bart is having a good spring and is ready to replace Buster Posey. Posey could move to first, but his anemic bat no longer supports that position. This could move Brandon Belt to the outfield, weakening the defense. Mauricio Dubon is battling for the second base job. Last year he became the first Honduran to play major league baseball. Jaylin Davis could squeeze his 35 homeruns into a fluid outfield.

Expected Finish - Not quite catching the Padres, so last in the division.

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