The National League West has been won by the Los Angeles Dodgers every season since 2013. This upcoming season the Dodgers will extend that winning streak to six consecutive years but if you’re a Dodgers fan, it’s the elusive World Series ring you’re chasing not the division title. The San Francisco Giants, who were widely predicted to finish second in the NL West last season, fell flat on their faces after a Madison Bumgarner dirt bike injury landing in last spot. Off-season moves that would have made the Giants World Series contenders back in 2014, will improve the team but let’s put that even year crap to bed – that legend died in 2016. The Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks both exceeded expectations last year and accordingly have their expectations set too high going into this season. It’s not cool to poke at the San Diego Padres anymore, so we won’t.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The day after the release of this story, Madison Bumgarner broke a bone in his pitching hand. In reaction to this news, I went through the San Francisco Giants schedule 5 days at a time and awarded wins to all NL West opponents he would have faced. I did this until the All-Star break which is when I would anticipate his return would be around.  This docked 12 wins off my original Giants prediction while adding 4 wins to the Rockies, 3 wins to the Dodgers and Padres respectively and 2 wins to the Diamondbacks.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

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Who’s New To Help Cause” –Brad Boxberger (trade w/TB), Yoshihisa Hirano (Japanese League), Alex Avila (free agent), Steven Souza Jr (trade w/TB), Jarrod Dyson (free agent)

Addition By Subtraction?” -J. D. Martinez (free agent), Chris Iannetta (free agent), Fernando Rodney (free agent), Brandon Drury (trade w/NYY)

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A Successful season for the Diamondbacks looks like this:

Paul Goldschmidt is finally getting the some of the national attention he deserves! As long as he keeps being himself, the Dbacks will always have some fight in them.

While many will lament the loss of powerhouse J.D. Martinez, there’s is nothing wrong with a David PeraltaA.J. Pollock – Steven Souza Jr starting outfield. Factor in your outfield depth of Yasmany Tomas – Jarrod Dyson – Chris Owings and you realize that might be one of the deepest (although far from the flashiest) outfield’s in baseball.

If you thought Jake Lamb’s 29 HR’s in 2016 were a fluke, what do you call his 30 HR’s from last season? Use a pen and write him down for another 30 HR, 100 RBI, 6 SB season.

Many will call the NL West the toughest division in baseball. The Diamondbacks last season sported winning records against each divisional foe including going 11-8 versus the 104-win Dodgers.

An Unsuccessful Season for the Diamondbacks looks like this:

Hearing that Zack Greinke‘s velocity is down during spring training is an annual rite of tradition. What if this the year he cannot recover it? Robbie Ray had a career year last season. He held batters to a batting average of .199 shaving 56 points off his previous career best. He also reduced his groundball/flyball ratio to a career best. It is not prototypical for players to follow career best years with another career best year. Last season Greinke and Ray both finished in the top ten in Cy Young voting, a down year for the Dbacks sees neither one even receiving a vote.

The excitement surrounding the trio of Archie Bradley, Brad Boxberger and Yoshihisa Hirano could also double as the team’s biggest letdown. Bradley was a revelation last season coming out of the pen but now teams know how much more electric his stuff is in short bursts. Boxberger is switching leagues and coming off a year he missed the opening half with elbow problems. Hirano has the regular worries that come with being new to the MLB plus the culture shock factor as he is new to America. At 34 years old, how will his body adapt to the rigors the MLB life brings?

Neither Pollock nor Peralta have ever played back-to-back seasons with 100+ appearances. An unsuccessful Dbacks season sees that trend continue.

Absolutely Correct Prediction:

I have them going 85-77 while these other famous projections have them going like this:

NL WESTFanGraphsPECOTAUSA Today
Los Angeles Dodgers94-6899-6395-67
San Francisco Giants84-7884-7882-80
Arizona Diamondbacks84-7886-7684-78
Colorado Rockies80-8278-8485-77
San Diego Padres71-9173-8971-91

Here’s Why I’ll Be Right

My concerns are with a pitching staff that collectively allowed the third fewest runs in the MLB last season. It is feasible the top three pitching stories from last season (Greinke, Ray, Bradley) could all regress. It sounds oversimplified but if the bats can hit enough to cover any deficiencies on the mound, the Dbacks should be just fine.

Colorado Rockies:

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Who’s New To Help Cause” – Wade Davis (free agent), Bryan Shaw (free agent), Chris Iannetta (free agent)

Addition By Subtraction?” – Greg Holland (free agent), Tyler Chatwood (free agent), Johnathan Lucroy (free agent), Pat Neshek (free agent), Mark Reynolds (free agent)

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A Successful season for the Rockies looks like this:

Playoffs! The previous two NL batting champions, Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu go one-two in your Rockies lineup (although they did experiment with Blackmon lower in the lineup early in the spring). Nolan Arenado is the best third baseman in the league, his 4th place finish in the MVP last season silencing some of the Kris Bryant apologists. Carlos Gonzalez is back to try to do this “contract year” thing correctly this time around. Ian Desmond is healthy. Trevor Story survived his sophomore year relatively unscathed improving his defense enough to gloss over the very real 200 strikeout potential he has. Despite some late season struggles as a team, the offense still scored the third most runs in the league. We have always known they can score and they should continue to do so.

Jon Gray continues to develop into the ace the Rockies need. If he can break 30 starts for the first time in his career this season, he could and should earn a Cy Young Award vote or two. Chad Bettis is healthy after bouts with cancer. If you are not cheering for this man to succeed, you need a hug.

Swapping Wade Davis in for Greg Holland keeps the ninth inning secure. Adam Ottavino struggled last season, still has the best slider on the team. With Bryan Shaw, Mike Dunn and Jake McGee the Rockies have unprecedented bullpen depth.

An Unsuccessful Season for the Rockies looks like this:

Blackmon, LeMahieu, Gerardo Parra and Gonzalez are all in contract years. This is the second time round for CarGo being in a contract year so one expects him to handle the pressure better this season but what about the other three? A down year by Blackmon, coming off winning the NL batting title, is quasi expected but what if the pressure affects him like it did CarGo and he gets off to a slow start until September? If you are not worried Blackmon (or LeMahieu’s play for that matter) on the field, then you should worry about what might happen off the field.

Come July, Rockies management is going to be forced to make the decision of either trusting they can re-sign key players like Blackmon, LeMahieu and Gonzalez before the free agent frenzy starts in November or trading them for a return while they can. If the Rockies are in a playoff spot theoretically this would force the team to hope for the best with these three key players but what if the Rockies start slow and the playoff picture is blurry? The Colorado media has been trading Gonzalez for about two years now, imagine the lathered frenzy of Blackmon and LeMahieu articles that will be released should the Rox be more than a handful games out of a wild card spot.

Of course all these trade rumors are fueled by the young depth the team has at its avail. For example, Brendan Rodgers lies in wait for an opportunity to replace LeMahieu shall he depart via free agency. There’s a but here…but for all the talk about young outfielder’s David Dahl, Raimel Tapia and Mike Tauchman the Rockies felt the need to bring back Gonzalez. That scares me. That shows me Rockies management still is not sure of what they have. Is CarGo their idea of going “all-in”? Management rightfully did not go “all-in” with the pitchers by acquiring a veteran, why would you slow down your outfielder’s progression? (Note, I love CarGo and understand his role in the clubhouse, guess I just had my hopes up for young guns to lead us.)

Speaking of the pitching, the term “sophomore jinx” should scare the hell out of you. German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, and Antonio Senzatela are all heading into their sophomore years. Sure the Rockies made it work last season with three rookies in the starting rotation, can they make it work with three sophomores?

Absolutely Correct Prediction:

I have them going 81-81 while these other famous projections have them going like this:

NL WESTFanGraphsPECOTAUSA Today
Los Angeles Dodgers94-6899-6395-67
San Francisco Giants84-7884-7882-80
Arizona Diamondbacks84-7886-7684-78
Colorado Rockies80-8278-8485-77
San Diego Padres71-9173-8971-91

Here’s Why I’ll Be Right

Last season the uncertainty revolved around how Bud Black would handle the Rockies pitching staff and if he could bring out the best in them. He definitely did his part but the encore is always much more difficult to perform. The uncertainty this year surrounds what will happen to pending free agents Blackmon, LeMahieu and Gonzalez should the team get off to a slow start? One is not worried about April as there is a 10-game stretch where it goes Padres-Braves-Padres but a 2016-esque hot start is sorely need by this team. With such important decisions to be made in July, the Rockies organization could change dramatically if the team goes into another mid-season swoon like last season.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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Who’s New To Help Cause” – Matt Kemp (if he’s not traded again), Scott Alexander (trade w/KC)

Addition By Subtraction?” – Adrian Gonzalez (trade w/Atl), Yu Darvish (free agent), Brandon Morrow (free agent), Tony Watson (free agent), Curtis Granderson (free agent), Andre Ethier (retirement hopefully), Scott Kazmir (trade w/Atl), Brandon McCarthy (trade w/Atl)

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A Successful season for the Dodgers looks like this:

Winning the final game of the playoffs. Anything less and their legacy is nothing more than that of the Washington Nationals – regular season brides, postseason maids of honour.

You will not find a weakness on this Dodgers team that depth cannot hide. The combined OPS (on-base plus slugging percentages) for every fielding position except first base (weighed down by the sad swan song of the great Adrian Gonzalez) and centerfield  were top 12. A testament to the team’s depth is in the fact their collective pinch-hitting OPS ranked 3rd in the league.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal was 4th in the league among catchers in HR’s. First baseman Cody Bellinger not only led all National League rookies in HR’s with 39 but also all NL first baseman. These are both repeatable feats.

The best starter and closer both belong to the Dodgers in Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen and that will not change this season. Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu listed as 4-5 starters is mind-boggling as they would be 2-3 on many other teams.

An Unsuccessful Season for the Dodgers looks like this:

Remember last season when the then defending Champion Chicago Cubs were widely picked to win 100 games then promptly struggled until the All-Star break? World Series hangover was the trendy excuse. That will not be the script the Dodgers follow but one loudly wonders if the team won’t be more liberal with pulling starts from stars and more liberal with the use of the short term DL. The Dodgers had their hearts ripped out last November. You know each person in that clubhouse, including Manager Dave Roberts, has asked themselves if the 104 win regular season was worth it after falling short of the ultimate goal.

Kershaw’s back is a concern and a prime candidate for more time on the DL. No we are not wishing ill to the man, we are suggesting more than ever that Kershaw and Roberts understand this a marathon and not a sprint and therefore will look to keep the ace more healthy by keeping him more fresh.

Justin Turner led National League third baseman in batting average at .322. Turner will start the season on the DL after a Kendall Graveman pitch broke his wrist. Wrists are pretty darn important things when it comes to swinging a baseball bat.

Really, the best thing Dodger’s fans can hope for is that the rest of the NL West forces the Dodgers to play at their best otherwise you may see more “coasting” than you are used to as the team focuses on November success more than regular season domination.

Absolutely Correct Prediction:

I have them going 96-66 while these other famous projections have them going like this:

NL WESTFanGraphsPECOTAUSA Today
Los Angeles Dodgers94-6899-6395-67
San Francisco Giants84-7884-7882-80
Arizona Diamondbacks84-7886-7684-78
Colorado Rockies80-8278-8485-77
San Diego Padres71-9173-8971-91

Here’s Why I’ll Be Right

Only a slew of injuries to key players takes the Dodgers out of first place in the NL West.

San Diego Padres

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Who’s New To Help Cause” – Eric Hosmer (free agent), Chase Headley (trade w/NYY), Freddy Galvis (trade w/Phi)

Addition By Subtraction?” – Jabari Blash (trade w/NYY), Yangervis Solarte (trade w/Tor)

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A Successful season for the Padres looks like this:

April features 10 games vs the Rockies (6 at Coors) and a 7-game stand hosting the Giants (4) and Dodgers (3). If the Padres can get through this part of their schedule above .500 you will hear whispers of the team being a dark-horse wild card team. Sure it will be an over-exaggeration like when TV announcers play the “he’s on pace for 162 HR’s” gag but a strong start would do wonders for Eric Hosmer’s new team.

Manuel Margot batting leadoff has the potential to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases. Hosmer, who can hit for power and come through in clutch situations, will take over first base pushing Wil Myers into right field. Myers can also hit for power and regularly come through in the clutch. It is a duo that won’t draw national audiences like Judge/Stanton but if you were on a budget (which compared to the Yankees, many teams definitely are) the Hosmer/Myers duo is quite enticing.

Jose Pirela, and his monster spring, may force the Padres to send former 2013 1st round draft pick Hunter Renfroe back to the minors. This is just one of the good “problems” that the Padres face. Another “problem” is that Cory Spangenberg, once thought to be the second baseman of the future when drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 draft, may find himself permanently entrenched as Carlos Asuaje‘s backup.

Any argument suggesting the Padres reach .500 must include Tyson Ross returning to his 2014 All-Star self. Clayton Richard turning the clock back to 2010 would also be a boon!

An Unsuccessful Season for the Padres looks like this:

They say a 2-1 win is valued just the same as 7-6 win. If you are a Padres fans expect more 7-6 games than low scoring affairs. For everything that there is to be excited about the potential of the team’s offense, the team’s pitching could become the stuff of nightmares. It is oversimplifying things but life in San Diego is quite simple this season, score more runs than you give up.

Pitcher Dinelson Lamet must find a way to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump. Pitchers Colin Rea and Robbie Erlin are both coming back from Tommy John Surgery so this year is not necessarily about impressive numbers, it is about staying healthy.

Absolutely Correct Prediction:

I have them going 75-87 while these other famous projections have them going like this:

NL WESTFanGraphsPECOTAUSA Today
Los Angeles Dodgers94-6899-6395-67
San Francisco Giants84-7884-7882-80
Arizona Diamondbacks84-7886-7684-78
Colorado Rockies80-8278-8485-77
San Diego Padres71-9173-8971-91

Here’s Why I’ll Be Right

If they were members of the AL Central, we would gladly put them at .500. If Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias arrive in September and show they are ready for the MLB, plus Rea and Erlin have successful returns from Tommy John, this could be the Padres last season under .500 for a while.

San Francisco Giants

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Who’s New To Help Cause” –  Evan Longoria (trade w/TB), Andrew McCutchen (trade w/Pit), Austin Jackson (FA)

Addition By Subtraction?” – Matt Moore (trade w/Tex), Christian Arroyo (trade w/TB), Denard Span (trade w/TB)

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A Successful season for the Giants looks like this:

The additions of Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen combined with a full season of vintage Madison Bumgarner has the baseball world intrigued. Sadly Vintage Bumgarner may not be available until after the All-Star Break.

Even year success seems to be a Johnny Cueto thing. He went 12-7 in 2010, 19-9 in 2012, 20-9 in 2014 and 18-5 in 2016. If there is a town that believes in even year voodoo, Cueto is playing for the fanbase that would will him to success if they could.

Brandon Belt led the team last season in homers and was second in runs when his season ended early due to concussion problems. He has the happy challenge coming back this season of holding off former All-Stars and new teammates McCutchen and Longoria.

Joe Panik will bat lead-off against righties and Austin Jackson (another free agent) would make sense as the lead-off batter versus lefties. We have come this far and are just now mentioning Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford.

Last year’s last place finish was an apparition and the front office was right in not tearing the team down.

An Unsuccessful Season for the Giants looks like this:

Buster Posey has already been dealing with ankle issues in Spring Training. Any extended DL time for Mr. Posey is not good for the Giants (or baseball in general).

Jeff Samardzija has pitched a minimum of 200+ innings five years in a row. That accomplishment should scare you.

Closer Mark Melancon is coming off forearm surgery. It’s better not to remember how he did. Actually try to forget that the bullpen as a whole had the second highest batting average against in the National League. It has to be better this year right?

Absolutely Correct Prediction:

I have them going 71–91 while these other famous projections have them going like this:

NL WESTFanGraphsPECOTAUSA Today
Los Angeles Dodgers94-6899-6395-67
San Francisco Giants84-7884-7882-80
Arizona Diamondbacks84-7886-7684-78
Colorado Rockies80-8278-8485-77
San Diego Padres71-9173-8971-91

Here’s Why I’ll Be Right

With Bumgarner and Samardzija on the DL to start the season, giving them 71 wins it a testament to what I believe McCutchen and Longoria bring to the table.

MLB Latest Content:

Possibly The Most Accurate NL West Predictions Ever

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