The MLB season is almost here, believe it or not. It looked like the MLB regular season might not happen at all for quite some time. Then, somehow, the MLB lockout ended, and baseball fans, players, and everybody involved rejoiced.
The National League West is once again one of the toughest divisions in the entire MLB, thanks to teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and the San Diego Padres. The Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks made some moves this offseason, but quite frankly, neither stand a chance with the others.
With Opening Day almost here, let’s examine and power rank the National League West.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
Sadly, the Arizona Diamondbacks are a long way away from competing in the NL West. Sure, the Ketel Marte extension was a huge step in the right direction and gave them a franchise cornerstone to build around.
However, there is a reason the Diamondbacks finished tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the worst record in the MLB in 2021 (52-110). They don’t have much talent, although Daulton Varsho is one player who can take a giant leap forward.
The pitching staff in Arizona is murky, at best:
- Madison Bumgarner
- Merrill Kelly
- Luke Weaver
- Zach Davies
- Zac Gallen
Two of those five had an ERA over five in 2021, so there isn’t much excitement. If it weren’t for Marte’s extension, there might be no hope in the desert.
4. Colorado Rockies
There is just so much confusion in the Rocky Mountains. The Colorado Rockies traded away longtime starter Nolan Arenado last offseason. Then, they signed Kris Bryant to a massive seven-year deal worth $182 million this time around.
Why did they do this? Nobody knows. However, even with the addition of Bryant, there isn’t much chance the Rockies will compete in 2022.
They also have a questionable pitching staff with three guys who posted an ERA over five. Here is Colorado’s projected starting five:
- Kyle Freeland
- German Marquez
- Austin Gomber
- Antonio Senzatela
- Chad Kuhl
Even if the Rockies lineup exceeds expectations, the pitching staff is not very imposing, and pitching at Coors Field doesn’t do them any favors, either. The Rockies finished with just five fewer losses than the Padres in 2021, although it would be shocking if they win more than 70 games this season.
3. San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants stunned everybody by winning the National League West in 2021. They ended the season with an MLB-best 107-55 record.
However, that won’t happen again in 2022.
Was it a fluke? Probably. Nonetheless, the Giants will be neck-and-neck with the Padres all year long in a thrilling race for second place in the NL West. That is the reality.
The loss of Kris Bryant hurts the Giants quite a bit, and Evan Longoria is out for at least six weeks to start the season. The addition of Carlos Rodon hugely helps the pitching staff, although his price tag (two-year, $44 million).
The Giants rotation has been pretty solid in Spring Training, but they will need big seasons from Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Cobb, and Alex Wood, not to mention Rodon and Logan Webb.
The addition of Joc Pederson was an interesting one, and they need big campaigns from Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, especially with the loss of Bryant. The Giants could sneak into the Wild Card conversation, but it is unlikely that they will win more than 100 games this year.
2. San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres keep getting better and better. They acquired New York Yankees slugger Luke Voit, then pulled a rabbit out of the hat by acquiring Oakland Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea.
Suddenly, the Padres have one of — if not the best — starting rotations in the entire MLB. The first three starters of the MLB season for the Padres will be Yu Darvish, Manaea, and Joe Musgrove. After that, it looks like it will be Blake Snell and Mike Clevinger. Yes, Snell and Clevinger are the final pieces of their staff, which isn’t fair.
However, they will be without superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for some time as he deals with a wrist injury.
Manny Machado is expected to have another strong year, and Jake Cronenworth will continue to show the MLB that he is one of the hidden gems in the league. Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers are trade candidates, and Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star Bryan Reynolds was a rumor for San Diego.
Regardless of any potential move before Opening Day, the Padres’ success will hinge on the health of the pitching staff. If they can stay somewhat healthy and perform as they have earlier in their respective careers, the Padres should run away with second place in the NL West.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a Hollywood story indeed. They lost in the NLCS to the Atlanta Braves, who went on to win the World Series.
Then, the Dodgers courted Freddie Freeman to LA, and he signed a monster six-year contract. The Dodgers can now have Mookie Betts, Trae Turner, Max Muncy, and Freeman in the same lineup, and that more than makes up for the loss of Corey Seager.
The pitching staff is loaded from top to bottom also for LA:
- Clayton Kershaw
- Walker Buehler
- Julio Urias
- Andrew Heaney
- Tony Gonsolin
The Dodgers bullpen is unmatched and got even better with the addition of Craig Kimbrel, who replaced Kenley Jansen as the closer.
The Dodgers aren’t letting the Giants win the NL West this year. Moreover, manager Dave Roberts already made a bold World Series prediction, which is undeniably their expectation this season.
The Dodgers should have no problem winning the NL West and are the favorites to win the entire National League.
Stats Courtesy of Baseball-Reference