The National League West has been dominated the past four years by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Is 2017 the year they relinquish the title, or are they built to make a run at a fifth consecutive divisional championship?
- San Francisco Giants 92-70
- Los Angeles Dodgers 90-72
- Colorado Rockies 83-79
- Arizona Diamondbacks 77-85
- San Diego Padres 69-93
2017 is going to shake up the National League West, and the San Francisco Giants are poised to be the ones to do it. In 2016 the Giants got off to a red-hot start going 57-33 before the all-star break. Unfortunately, injuries up and down the roster crippled the Giants chances of riding that momentum into the second half of the year. Their bullpen also did not help their cause, as they were one of the worst bullpens in the entire MLB.
On the bright side, the Giants spent their offseason focusing on the bullpen. They were able to sign veteran, Mark Melancon, to a hefty contract, as the new closer on the team. On top of that, the Giants have a top-notch pitching staff, headed by Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. Historically, both of these pitchers have stayed healthy and continue to dominate their opponents even as they progress in age. If the Giants can finish out the season the way they started it in 2016, then they should have no problem competing against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers have superstars up and down their roster, but never seem to take it anywhere further than the first or second round of the playoffs. This year they will have to hope for a wildcard spot. In the offseason, the Dodgers were able to retain both Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner. Jansen is the anchor of the Dodgers bullpen and was a huge reason why the Dodgers were the divisional champions in 2016. Turner adds some meat to the lineup, after having a career year, notching 27 home runs and tallying 90 RBIs.
It’s hard to talk about the Dodgers without mentioning the game’s best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is coming off a year full of injuries. If he can return at full strength, then the Dodgers have a fighting chance. After Kershaw in the rotation, I don’t see much help. Kershaw is going to have to put this team on his shoulders if they want to compete for a championship.
Moving away from the Giants and Dodgers, the rest of the division doesn’t impress me much. In third place I have the Rockies. The thin air of Colorado will certainly be helpful to their lineup as they have one of the best 3-4-5 combinations in the league, with Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Ian Desmond. Unfortunately for fans of the Rockies, pitching wins championships, and the Rockies lack that tremendously. Their lineup can only take them so far and to me, that’s third place in this division.
The Diamondbacks may have been the most disappointing team in 2016. After going out and signing Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to mammoth contracts, the Diamondbacks only won 69 games. The Diamondbacks are in a rebuilding stage so don’t expect them to be good for a while.
The same goes for the San Diego Padres. The Padres will not be good anytime soon so it isn’t even worth talking about them.
The Giants are the team to watch out for this upcoming season, but don’t count out the Dodgers. This division will be one to keep an eye out for if you love a close divisional race.