MLB Outlook: National League West

The National League West has been the property of the Los Angeles Dodgers for almost a decade now, ever since the days of Mannywood in left field. The Giants dominated the World Series for a few years. The Padres have been the definition of a bad baseball team. But what the NL (National League) West looks like now may just surprise you.

Los Angeles Dodgers 55-29: No surprise here, the Dodgers are leading the NL West once again. This season they’re doing it on the backs of superstar shortstop, Corey Seager (.305 average, 13 home runs, 42 RBIs) and rookie masher, Cody Bellinger (.260 average, 24 home runs, 56 RBIs) offensively, and of course feature the best starting pitcher in all of baseball, Clayton Kershaw (12-2, 2.32 ERA, 0.91 WHIP), who is having a down year for him. In the bullpen, they have Kenley Jansen (18 saves, 0.79 ERA, 0.53 WHIP) closing out games. Jansen has yet to blow a save this season. The Dodgers have won the NL West every season since the San Francisco Giants won it in 2012, and have won it four time since 2010. Even if the Dodgers were to fall out of first place, which is unlikely, they’d still be in a Wild Card spot. Needless to say, the Dodgers are well on their way to another postseason appearance in 2017.

Arizona Diamondbacks 52-31: The Diamondbacks are finally playing like a team who deserves to have a star like first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (.316 average, 19 home runs, 66 RBIs) playing for them. Starter Zack Greinke (10-4, 3.05 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) is finally living up to his massive, 6-year, $206,500,000 contract. The Diamondbacks are currently playing how they should have played in 2016, where they went 69-93. Right fielder, David Peralta, is also lending a hand offensively as he is hitting .316 and has 84 hits in just 73 games this season. Finally, 25-year-old starting pitcher Robbie Ray (8-4, 3.06 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) is having a strong season as he has already tied his career high in wins at 8. The Diamondbacks seem to be putting all the pieces together, and at only 2.5 games behind the division leading Dodgers, it isn’t unreasonable to think that the Diamondbacks could win the NL West.

Colorado Rockies 49-36: The Rockies came from nowhere this season to become one of the games hottest commodities. One reason for this is that they have potentially the best third baseman in baseball, Nolan Arenado (.299 average, 15 home runs, 63 RBIs), manning the hot corner. The Rockies even have a starter with an ERA under 4.00, which is almost unheard of in that climate. In the end, however, the reason the Rockies are not in first is their lack of a bonafide ace. They need a starting pitcher to come in and lead their pitching staff if they hope to overtake both the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers. Just like they have through most of their history, the Rockies need a true ace.

San Diego Padres 34-48: Well, at least the Padres can say that they aren’t in last place so far this season. I mean, they’re only two games ahead of the last place Giants, but it’s still something. The Padres haven’t finished above .500 since 2010, where they went 90-72, and they haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, when they won the division by going 88-74. Needless to say, the Padres have been the definition of baseball futility over the last decade. This season, they have the worst team average in baseball at .228 (TWO. TWENTY. EIGHT!) and a team ERA of 4.70, which is 23rd in baseball. In a pitcher friendly park. Honestly, the fact they’re ahead of the Giants in the standings is simply baffling. This team needs help in every facet of the game.

San Francisco Giants 33-51: The Giants are in last place. That seems reasonable. They’re in the same division as the Dodgers after all. But, is it? They won the World Series three times in five years between 2010 and 2014. That isn’t that long ago. They even made the playoffs in a Wild Card spot season. Also, they’re in the same division as the perpetually bad Padres. So that begs the question that many baseball fans have been asking: what the hell happened? Well, to start, staff ace Madison Bumgarner has been on the DL (disabled list) since April 21st with bruised ribs and a grade 2 AC sprain that he suffered during a dirt biking accident. Without Bumgarner to lead the pitching staff, the Giants leader in ERA has been Johnny Cueto at 4.26. The Giants need Bumgarner back to lead their rotation, whose team ERA is 21st in baseball at 4.61, and 10th in the NL. Their ERA is fourth in their division, ahead of the Padres (still can’t figure out how they’re ahead of the Giants in the standings). At the plate, the Giants are still having success, seeing as they have the NL’s best catcher in Buster Posey (.339 average, 10 home runs, 35 RBIs) and first baseman Brandon Belt is also having a strong season with 16 home runs and 42 RBIs. The Giants team average is still above the Padres at .244. Honestly, the Giants desperately need Bumgarner back, and they need a player who can hit for average and raise the overall average, but they also need depth. They need someone who can come in Bumgarner or Posey go down with injuries and fill the gap. They don’t have that.

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