NL West Preview
Baseball season is officially here, and there’s no better way to get hyped for the season than to predict how each division will shake out. Let’s take a look at each team in the National League West, and pick how each team will finish.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers nearly had their division title streak snapped by the Rockies, but were able to beat them in a tie-breaker that determined who would play in the Wild Card game. Don’t expect the divisional race to be as tight as last season, especially with the return of Corey Seager from multiple surgeries. As a high batting average and mid-20s home run kind of player, Seager is expected to insert right back into the heart of the Dodger lineup and provide the consistent big-hit threat that LA lacked at times last season, especially against a potent Red Sox team in the 2018 World Series.
The concerned should be Clayton Kershaw, as his injuries in recent years have diminished him from superstar status to a certain extent, but the rest of the rotation and the bullpen should continue to be an asset for the team. Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner should continue to impress, and the addition of A.J. Pollock from the rival Diamondbacks is a plus.
Expect the Dodgers to still be a contender to win the National League pennant.
With slugging third baseman Nolan Arenado locked up for the long haul with the Rockies, the path for this team to start winning division crowns is much clearer, but it likely won’t happen for them this season. Daniel Murphy is a good addition to the infield if he can get back to hitting for average and get some of the power he had back in his first season as a National. The pitcher always seems to be hit or miss in the Mile High City, so don’t view that as a particularly strong point for this club.
Trevor Story is a huge power hitter who makes juggling this lineup difficult for opposing teams, but the Rockies will need to take a big leap forward defensively if they hope to dethrone the consistently high performing Dodgers.
San Diego Padres
The Padres made good moves this offseason, but don't go putting them at the top of this division just yet. Adding Manny Machado was a big signing for the Padres, and he’ll be around for a very long time, but they still have ways to go before that investment will begin to pay off. Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers are other really good bats in this lineup, so don't expect the Padres to find it hard to score runs.
The main issue with the prospects of this team is that nothing stands out on the pitching staff. There is no clear ace on this team yet, which says that they’ll be a good, but not a great team this year. There is plenty to like about the depth of the farm system though, so don’t be surprised if the Padres become perennial contenders for this division in a year or two.
Arizona is a team with a bright future, but they’re simply not ready to compete for this division right now. The Diamondbacks have a solid rotation with Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, and others, but it won’t make up for a lack of offensive pieces.
Paul Goldschmidt, a hitting stud, just signed a new contract with the Cardinals. Adam Jones and Wilmer Flores can be solid hitters, but they’re not exactly the guys to build a lineup around. This team will struggle to score runs, and they’ll likely be hanging far back in the West this season.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are another team heading into a rebuilding phase this season. Madison Bumgarner should be the ace of this team, but beyond him, there are plenty of question marks. Buster Posey is great in everything he does, and you never have to worry about his ability to provide run support and make brilliant plays from behind the dish, but he needs more help, and 2019 isn’t the year he’ll have it available, unfortunately.
There is a strong chance that if the Giants struggle early, Bumgarner could be traded to a team looking to bolster its pitching staff for a playoff run, which would mean full-on reboot for the team.
Jeremy Ganes is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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