2015 MLB Preview: NL WEST
As the saying goes, “The best coast is the West Coast.” The World Series champion San Francisco Giants would have to agree, as would the rest of the NL West. The division has started to become very competitive, and the Dodgers/Giants rivalry is starting to remind me of days of old. As we continue our look at every division in Major League Baseball, next up is the NL West.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have been spending a lot of money in the last couple of years, but they still haven’t been able to win a World Series title. This shows that high-money rosters do not translate to titles; just ask the Yankees as of late. You can’t blame the Dodgers for trying though. This last offseason stripped LA of some of their stars (Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp to name a few), but the other teams in the NL West lost some key pieces as well. Prospect Joc Pederson seems destined to be on the Opening Day roster, now that there is some room in the outfield, and OF Yasiel Puig and his rocket-arm are still roaming around. They have a slight advantage over the other NL West teams.
Burning Question: Will Puig’s antics and the loss of some veteran leadership cost them wins this season, or will they finally make it back to the World Series?
Prediction: 1st place
San Francisco Giants
The Giants lost 3B Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval from their World Series lineup, but signed 3B Casey McGehee to fill the void. SS Brandon Crawford stepped up big last season, and the Giants expect him to be solid once again in 2015. The outfield for the Giants is the main concern with Angel Pagan’s injury issues and Blanco’s lack of hitting. LF Nori Aoki (KC Royals) should be able to benefit from the large outfield and his .280+ batting average, but his fielding can be suspect at times. Pitching for the Giants is pretty good, but lacks consistency during stretches of the regular season.
Burning Question: Will this lineup produce enough offense and solid defense to help the Giants go for a repeat title?
Prediction: 2nd place
San Diego Padres
The Padres have added the most pieces to their roster in the offseason, and this lineup is full of hitters now. They acquired OF Justin Upton, OF Matt Kemp, OF Wil Myers, 3B Will Middlebrooks, P James Shields, P Brandon Morrow, and C Derek Norris. The 2015 Padres look nothing like the Padres of 2014, at that should translate into more wins for San Diego. The NL West can be tough, but the new Padres lineup should be able to compete well in the NL West in 2015.
Burning Question: Will the newest Padres additions be able to bring more wins to sunny San Diego, or will a dark cloud hang over them in 2015?
Prediction: 3rd place
The Diamondbacks are a team that has had its ups-and-downs. They finished 2014 with a record of 64-98 (last place in NL West), but were expecting a higher finish. While the lineup and pitching staff haven’t changed much, the Diamondbacks should have a better record in 2015.
Burning Question: Will this team continue in mediocrity, or is 2015 finally the year that Arizona kicks it in gear and tries to overthrow the Giants and Dodgers?
Prediction: 4th place
The Rockies are a club that are hard to figure out. They make moves that seem like they should be beneficial, but those moves end up coming to Colorado and either under-perform or get bitten by the injury bug. Justin Morneau, Carlos Gonzalez, and Troy Tulowitzki have become the depth of the Rockies lineup, but that’s not enough. This lineup is missing a presence in the locker room since Todd Helton retired. So, where do the Rockies go from here? There isn’t a Rocky Mountain high right now in Colorado, but rather a winter low during baseball season, and 2015 will most likely not be any different.
Burning question: Will Troy Tulowitzki or other big-name players be traded before the trade deadline in 2015?
Prediction: 5th place
The top two teams in the NL West have separated themselves from the other three teams in the division; 2015 should be more of the same. The Padres have gotten much better, but I still don’t see them shrinking the gap between themselves and the Giants and Dodgers. Most fans of NL West teams are looking forward to football season by the All-Star break.
Dustin Brown covers the MLB for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @SprtsWritingMan.