Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

MLB NL West Preview

With the start of the Major League Baseball just days away, it’s time to start previewing each division. Last season, the Chicago Cubs broke the worst curse in all of sports, breaking their 108 year championship drought. Many people are expecting them to repeat as champions, but the rest of the MLB would beg to differ. Today, we will be looking at the NL West. This division includes the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, and last years Division champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71)

Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Depending on how you look at it, the Dodgers had a very successful 2016 season. Although they failed to advance to the World Series, the Dodgers made it to the NLCS before losing to the eventual champion Chicago Cubs. One player to point out for the Dodgers is Corey Seager. Seager lead the team in batting average and won rookie of the year in 2016. Not only that, but Seager even earned some MVP votes. The talent is clearly there with Seager, but many people will be watching to see if he can avoid a sophomore slump.

Hitting Stats

  • Batting Average: Corey Seager, .308
  • Home Runs: Justin Turner, 27
  • RBI’s: Justin Turner, 90

Pitching Stats

  • Win’s: Kenta Madea, 18
  • ERA: Kenta Madea, 3.48
  • Strikeouts: Kenta Madea, 179

I know what you’re thinking. Where’s Clayton Kershaw on that list? He’d be on it if he were healthy for the entire 2016 season, but he wasn’t. Kershaw missed a month and a half of action due to a back injury. Before the injury, Kershaw was a front-runner for both the CY Young and MVP vote. For the Dodgers to continue their success, they will need Kershaw to stay healthy with the rest of their rotation being slightly below average.

If Kershaw stays healthy and Seager avoids a sophomore slump, then there’s a very good chance the Dodgers will win their 5th straight NL West crown.

San Francisco Giants (87-75)

The Giants finished the regular season with an 87-75 regular season record, which was good enough to clinch an NL Wildcard berth. The Giants would beat the New York Mets in the Wildcard round to advance to the NLDS where they would fall to the eventual champion Cubs.

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Hitting Stats

  • Batting Average: Buster Posey, .288
  • Home Runs: Brandon Belt, 17
  • RBI’s: Brandon Crawford, 84

Pitching Stats

  • Win’s: Johnny Cueto, 18
  • ERA: Madison Bumgarner, 2.74
  • Strikeouts: Madison Bumgarner, 251

For the most part, the Giants stayed in-tact this offseason with the exception of adding Mark Melancon. Melancon signed a four year deal worth 62 million dollars, with an opt-out option after his second year. The Giants have a stellar pitching rotation on the front end of the bullpen, but their closer’s struggled all year.  If Melancon lives up to the hype, and they get the same consistency from the rest of their bullpen and roster, they should be playoff bound for the second straight season.

Colorado Rockies (75-87)

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockies finished the regular season in third place in the NL West, but failed to make the playoffs for the seventh straight season. One of the bright sides to the Rockies ball-club is David Dahl. Last season was Dahl’s rookie season with the Rockies. He played in 63 games and hit an impressive .315 with a .359 on-base percentage.

Hitting Stats

  • Batting Average: DJ LeMahieu, .348
  • Home Runs: Nolan Arenado, 41
  • RBI’s: Nolan Arenado, 133

Pitching Stats

  • Win’s: Chad Bettis,
  • ERA: Jon Gray, 4.61
  • Strikeouts: Jon Gray, 185

Another bright spot to the Rockies 2016 season was the emergence of Trevor Story. Story belted 27 homeruns in 97 games before suffering an torn thumb ligament that forced him to miss the remainder of the season. The Rockies were also able to add Ian Desmond this offseason. However Desmond is currently nursing a broken arm and won’t be able to take the field until May. Only time will tell if the Rockies can break their own postseason curse, but with the emergence of Dahl and Story the future is looking bright in Colorado.

Arizona Diamondbacks (69-93)

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2016 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks were able to pull Zack Greinke away from the division rival Dodgers in hopes that he would continue playing at a high level. Surely not something crazy to ask of considering they are paying over 200 million dollars over a six-year span. Unfortunately for Arizona, Greinke regressed significantly. Last season, Greinke had a 4.37 ERA which is much worse than his 1.66 from the previous season.

He’s been regarded as one of the top Ace’s in all of baseball, and has been for some time now. It will be up to Greinke to prove to himself, and the Diamondback’s that he is worth his 206 million dollar contract.

Hitting Stats

  • Batting Average: Jean Segura, .319
  • Home Runs: Yasmany Tomas, 31
  • RBI’s: Paul Goldscmhidt, 95

Pitching Stats

  • Win’s: Zack Greinke, 13
  • ERA: Robbie Ray, .490
  • Strikeouts: Robbie Ray, 218

Another guy to watch out for on the Diamondbacks is AJ Pollock. Back in 2015, Pollock was nearly named the NL MVP, but his 2016 was ended prematurely due to an injury. The potential is clearly there, it’s just a matter of whether or not he can stay healthy.

San Diego Padres (68-94)

Lets face it. Most Padres fans would like to forget about their 2016 season where they finished tied for the second worst record in the MLB. However, if there is anything to be happy about, it could be the emergence of Hunter Renfroe and Manny Margot. Both are highly touted rookies who specialize in different categories. For Renfroe, he’s a power hitter who has the potential to hit 30+ home runs. In just 11 games last season, he belted 4 homers with 14 RBI’s. Margot on the other hand is more of a speedster. He might not hit for distance, but he’s a guy that can hit a high average while being an excellent defender.

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Hitting Stats

  • Batting Average: Wil Meyers, .259
  • Home Runs: Wil Meyers, 28
  • RBI’s: Wil Meyers, 94

Pitching Stats

  • Win’s: Luis Perdomo, 9
  • ERA: Alexi Amarista, .00 (1GP)
  • Strikeouts: Drew Pomeranz, 115

Wil Meyers was the other bright spot for the Padres last season. In what was clearly his best season in the majors, Meyers lead the Padres in every hitting statistic, including on-base percentage (.336) and in hits (155). Much of that has to do with the fact Myers played a total of 157 games. His next highest total is 88 games which he accomplished as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Dodgers will be a popular pick to repeat as the NL West champions, as they have won this title the last four seasons. Can the Giants re-take the throne? Can Colorado, Arizona, or San Diego get back to playing winning baseball? That’s all up in the air, but the quest for the crown will begin on opening day, April 3rd.

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