Predictions should be rolling in about now, so here’s what I’m throwing out there: The Dodgers will win the NL West, and I don’t think it will be close. The Los Angeles Dodgers, the team hated by so many Giants fans, and now, more fans that hate teams with tons of money, have a roster that is absolutely loaded. At least three guys in the bullpen that can probably close out ballgames for other squads, three starters that could be a #1 on other teams with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke forming a 1-2 punch as nasty as the traffic that runs through the heart of Los Angeles. Imagine, if you will, Matt Kemp being healthy again. That’s big-time trouble, even if Adrian Gonzalez is getting older and Yasiel Puig is inspiring narratives across the nation. Hanley Ramirez is still awesomely talented, and while Juan Uribe may not instill fear into your heart, you come back around to the pitching and you wonder if your team will score enough runs against the Dodgers to win those games.
The Giants, bless their hearts, knees, elbows, shoulders, backs, hands and hamate bones, heads, anything that can be injured, really, I believe are a time bomb ready to explode all over our hopes and dreams of a return to the playoffs. However, it is well documented that the Giants did well in the NL West in 2013, so it’s not like the Giants don’t have a shot of doing well, they just have a lot more blemishes than the Dodgers do. The top four Giants pitchers have the potential to go toe-to-toe with the Dodgers rotation. Maybe Ryan Vogelsong could match up against Josh Beckett, but could he match up against Chad Billingsley? I don’t know about that. The Giants lineup can be good, and if Michael Morse and the bat head connect for many dongs, there will be much happiness in San Francisco. I expect the bullpen to be good as well. Overall, this is a good team, I just worry about what could happen to them. Like a comebacker off of a pitcher that takes him out for a couple months, or a regular whose defense is so bad it forces people to ask the question, “Is it time to revisit Brandon Belt in Left Field?”
The San Diego Padres have been the dark horse I’m sure Padres fans want to believe in. I think they can be a third place team with the squad they have. Will they overwhelm you overall? No, but do they have enough good players in their lineup, rotation, bullpen, and bench to create some confidence at AT&T South? Sure, I don’t think that idea is too farfetched. Certainly, if the Giants implode, the Padres are a reasonable candidate for the second place slot in the NL West. Interesting that even with guys like Cameron Maybin, Josh Johnson, Yasmani Grandal, Cory Luebke, and Casey Kelly, I still like this team enough for third place. I think with those players on the shelf though, the space between the Giants and the Padres becomes a little bit bigger.
Can I just clump the Rockies and the Diamondbacks together? Rotations that don’t turn my frown upside down (although maybe that changes when prospects like Archie Bradley, Jon Gray, and Eddie Butler get called up), lineups that can scare the opposition, and decent bullpens, with Arizona having the edge there. The teams aren’t truly awful, but their rotations make you wonder how good will either of these teams really be? How many times will we joke about intangibles at the Diamondbacks expense? How many times will Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez be injured?
For other predictions, such as Keith Law’s predictions as well as Baseball Prospectus’ predictions by PECOTA, you’ll notice both have the Giants second and give them a favorable nod for a wild card spot. Here are my predictions:
1. Dodgers 100-62
2. Giants 86-76
3. Padres 81-81
4. Diamondbacks 78-84
5. Rockies 72-90
My last word on this is a reminder that everybody is allowed to have a prediction, and while some predictions may be less likely than others, name-calling on predictions will not likely drive a conversation in a positive direction. What do you think, though? Is fourteen games back too far? Too close? Do the Dodgers even finish first? Don’t be afraid to speak your mind in the comments!