Here is the 6th and final part of my MLB Divisional Previews, with the NL West. This will be a brief overview of their off season and what expectations to have for teams as well as what tier I see them in. I have 6 tiers; Favorites, Contenders, Playoff Teams, In the Hunt, Mediocre, and Bottom Feeders.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Mediocre
Moving on from Daulton Varsho was a move that made a ton of sense for Arizona as there was a log-jam for PT in the OF as they boasted 4 young guys that showed a ton of promise with only 3 spots; the others being Corbin Caroll, Jake McCarthy, and Alek Thomas. What they got in return was a very solid package in Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., both guys who will start on opening day. Kyle Lewis was another player they brought in, a guy who is a former ALROY but has struggled to stay on the field and be healthy since, but offers another option in the OF. An array of relievers were added in hopes of improving there, the biggest name being brought in being Andrew Chafin, who reunites with his first team after being one of the few bright spots for the Tigers last season. The rotation is headlined by Zac Gallen who finished 5th in NLCY voting last season, but after him there’s a ton of guys I’m not really sure how to feel about, as well as newcomer Ryne Nelson who boasted a 1.47 ERA last season in just 3 games. I’m a big fan of the lineup with proven guys like Christian Walker and Ketel Marte being the veterans to show the upcoming young guys how to do it. The youth infusion coming into the team makes the D-backs a team that is trending upwards with guys like Caroll, Thomas, McCarthy, Moreno, Gallen, and Nelson being at the forefront of their future plans, however the future plans don’t account for right now which is why I have the Diamondbacks finishing in 3rd place in the NL West.
Colorado Rockies – Bottom Feeders
Kris Bryant was the team’s big time FA signing last season and he had a good 40 or so games before going down to injury and missing over 100 games. The success this team has offensively will be largely impacted by what he does when he plays. Outside of Bryant, there’s guys like CJ Cron, longtime Rockie Charlie Blackmon, Ryan McMahon and their FA signing Jurickson Profar to lead the way offensively for Colorado. German Marquez and Kyle Freeland will lead the way in the rotation again, and Daniel Bard looks to repeat last year’s success out of the bullpen. Ezequiel Tovar is the #2 prospect in the Rockies organization and will start up with the squad and will look to be an instant impact player up the middle for the Rockies. The pitching as a whole is horrible and it doesn’t help that they play at the most hitter friendly ballpark in the league, which may be able to boost a bad offense to a mediocre offense on a team that will finish dead last in the division.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Contenders
This is not a Dodgers team we’ve become accustomed to seeing over the last handful of seasons as they lost their superstar SS Trea Turner to Philadelphia in the off season and are going with some unproven guys to start the season before they turn to their youth. As well as losing Turner, they also lost Tyler Anderson who broke out with LAD last season where he was an all star and posted career lows in ERA, FIP, BB/9, HR/9, while posting a career high in WAR. Longtime Dodgers Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner also left town, along with Craig Kimbrel and Andrew Heaney. To replace all of that LAD went out and grabbed veteran sticks JD Martinez and David Peralta to man the middle of the lineup, as well as a trade for Miguel Rojas after their prized young guy Gavin Lux went down with a season ending injury in spring training. Their 1-4 might be the best in baseball in Betts, Freeman, Smith, and Muncy, but after that there’s not much to be super thrilled about – older veterans and guys who aren’t proven at the MLB level. A couple of the top prospects in the Dodgers organization could join Miguel Vargas and see significant PT this year in Michael Busch, and Bobby Miller. The pitching staff will be without Walker Buehler but is still one of the better groups in baseball – Urias, Kershaw, and a healthy Dustin May combines for what could be one of the best trios in baseball, rounded out with Noah Syndergaard and Ryan Pepiot until Tony Gonsolin comes back or Bobby Miller is called up. The bullpen is gross, headlined by Evan Phillps and Brusdar Graterol but is overall a very deep bullpen. LA is one of the best 7 teams in baseball, but don’t have the same firepower they had last year which has me a bit hesitant on them and have them finishing 2nd in the division for just the 2nd time since 2013.
San Diego Padres – Favorites
Xander Bogaerts joining a lineup that already features Juan Soto, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr. after 20 games just makes for the best 1-4 in baseball today. That’s before mentioning Jake Cronenworth, Matt Carpenter, and Trent Grisham. Luis Campusano made the opening day roster and is nipping on Austin Nola’s heels to take over the everyday catching spot. Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo were brought in to sure up the rotation around Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Nick Martinez until Joe Musgrove returns. The bullpen is led by Josh Hader, who up until last season was considered the best reliever in baseball – the depth is a bit questionable at the moment while they deal with some injuries to Castillo and Suarez, but when they return I like how many arms they have to go to. This is a deep team with the star power at the top to push them over the Dodgers and win their first division title since 2006.
San Francisco Giants – Mediocre
Listen, I feel for Giants fans after what happened this off season with John Heyman saying this signed Aaron Judge then came out he was jumping the gun and Judge went back to the Yankees. Then the front office goes out and inks Carlos Correa for about a day before it’s revealed he didn’t pass his physical and he ends up back in Minnesota. Now after all that, the Giants are 2 years removed from a 100 win season, and have been trending downward ever since. The majority of the guys from the 2021 season either left the team or had a significant down year coming back to earth, and the pitching led the way for the squad between Carlos Rodon (who they failed to re-sign) and Logan Webb. To replace Rodon they brought in Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling to fill out the rotation behind opening day starter Webb as well as Alex Cobb. Myself in particular am very high on Manaea and expect big improvement from him this season in a pitcher friendly park after being a very unlucky pitcher last year with his xERA and ERA being separated by nearly a full run, and his xFIP and FIP being roughly half a run different. The same could be said about Cobb and being unlucky as his xERA and ERA were separated by over half a run, while his FIP was at a 2.80 which is fantastic. Camilo Doval is one of the more exciting young arms coming out of the bullpen with a triple digit fastball paired with a devastating slider that ranked 5th in total run value with a -17 on the pitch. To go along with him are the Rogers brothers; Taylor the left handed sinker baller known for being one of the best lefties out of the pen since his time with the Twins, and Tyler, known for his submarine delivery which has played a big role in his success since his debut. Not much to like in the lineup that is dominated by lefties, especially after adding Michael Conforto who didn’t play at all last year due to injury, but had gone over 100 WRC+ all but 1 season from 2015-21. Overall this is another one of those teams that has the talent to be decent, but lacks in the star department which will ultimately hold them back until they make the lineup better – either by infusing the youth or going and spending in free agency in order to get this team back to where it was in 2021. Until then, it’s a 4th place finish for the Giants.
That will wrap it up for my MLB divisional previews with the end of the NL West. Feel free to comment below and let me know your own thoughts about the NL West! Stay tuned for some more content in the coming days, things are in the works…