National League West: The road to a ring runs through the West Coast
1: Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56)
I think at this point the main question regarding the Dodgers is if their win total will eclipse the century mark again. This team is once again loaded and it would take something catastrophic to derail them. Clayton Kershaw returns and will once again be pitching alongside Walker Buehler and Julio Urias.
The lineup sees the return of former MVP Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Will Smith. Oh, and Freddie Freeman. Let’s not forget that little addition to their lineup. Unreal. Chances they add another elite name at the deadline like they always do? I would take that bet. They enter 2022 as the favorites to win it all.
2: San Diego Padres (88-74)
2021 ended up being a failure. Expectations were so high going into the season as some even had them overtaking Los Angeles. Things started well, and then it all fell apart in the second half. A mix of injuries, ill-timed cold streaks and dugout turmoil all resulted in the team’s downfall.
Slam Diego will be looking at center pieces Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth to help get this team back to the postseason. If Joe Musgrove can have a season like the one he had last year along with Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Mike Clevinger returning to prime form, then that rotation looks great. Unfortunately, Tatis Jr. suffered a wrist injury and will miss a sizeable chunk of the season. No doubt a tough blow.
They were able to acquire Luke Voit in a trade with the Yankees to add another power bat. Will the Padres deal Eric Hosmer’s big contract away? Time will tell.
3: San Francisco Giants (87-75)
Last year’s surprise team did so many things well. They pitched well, got timely hits and executed in the field…all while not being overly flashy. They put up the fifth-best wRC+ (108) offensively and second-lowest staff ERA (3.25) in baseball. That said, it would not be surprising to see some regression this year. Buster Posey retired and they lost Kevin Gausman and Kris Bryant to free agency.
They did make a risky but potentially huge move in former White Sox fire baller Carlos Rodon, though. Former Dodgers slugger Joc Pederson also gives the Giants a nice lefty power bat. While they still should be competitive, it is hard to see them winning 100+ games again in 2022. But hey, the Giants find ways, and one cannot fully rule them out. It will also be interesting to see how top prospect Joey Bart does this year.
4: Colorado Rockies (68-94)
Kris Bryant will not save this team on his own. Sure, he can put up some monster numbers at Coors Field, but the team is just not built to contend yet. Hard to make sense of the Rockies selling fan-favorite Nolan Arenado and letting Trevor Story walk before acquiring the 2016 NL MVP. The lineup will feature Bryant, C.J Cron, Charlie Blackmon and the recently traded for Randal Grichuk as the team’s primary run producers.
Infielder Ryan McMahon got himself a nice extension…also to the surprise of many. The rotation will likely feature German Márquez as their number one guy, who has some really solid stuff. Overall it looks like another long summer in the Rocky Mountains.
5: Arizona Diamondbacks (61-101)
Last year’s Diamondbacks team set the record for consecutive games lost on the road (24) and finished tied with the most losses in franchise history (110). They traded away their biggest power source in Eduardo Escobar last year, and they again boast a lineup with little firepower. Their main offensive pieces look to be Ketel Marte and Carson Kelly.
The starting pitching staff will feature Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Luke Weaver. MadBum is a shell of his former self and the others are OK, at best. They did add veteran closer Mark Melancon, which can help, but he will probably be traded at the deadline when the DBacks are well out of contention. The jump in wins from last year might seem like a lot, but until they show otherwise, it is hard to see them having such losing streaks again like last year.