2013 MLB Predictions: National League West Preview

Chris SchadContributor IIIMarch 18, 2013

2013 MLB Predictions: National League West Preview

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    The National League West is where the giants roam...well, the San Francisco Giants that is.

    The Giants have won the division two out of the last three seasons. Both of those division championships have lead to the team winning the World Series.

    However, that doesn't mean that they haven't had competition.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers have spent their way toward improvement and will have a team that can challenge to dethrone the defending champs.

    The Arizona Diamondbacks may have lost something when dealing Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves, but they're still loaded with the same quality pitching that has fueled the Giants' championship runs.

    The San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies are two young teams that are stockpiling younger talent, but it's possible that they can find themselves in a run if they play their cards right.

    The fight at the top will be great late night television for most of the country and cause many sleep deprived nights over the summer.

    Here is how the NL West will play out in 2013.

5) Colorado Rockies

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    2012 Record: 64-98 (5th in NL West)

    Key Arrivals (Courtesy of Baseball Prospectus): 3B Ryan Wheeler, RHP Wilton Lopez, C Yorvit Torrealba, RHP Chris Volstad

    Key Departures: 1B Jason Giambi, LHP Matt Reynolds, RHP Alex White, RHP Miguel Batista

    Outlook: The Rockies offense is one that is worthy of its major league status.

    The Rockies ranked 6th in runs per game in 2012, and that was without the services of star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki who was limited to 47 games with a groin injury.

    Carlos Gonzalez and Wilin Rosario picked up the slack with big seasons, and the Rockies looked the part of a team that could score its way to some wins.

    Too bad they didn't have any pitching.

    Whether it was injuries, old age or whatever the case was for the Rockies staff, they ranked 30th in runs allowed a season ago.

    Part of this was that the Rockies never let their young starters get in a rhythm and sending them back and forth between the majors and Triple-A. It was like the Rockies did not have time to accept their growing pains, and it stunted their development as a result.

    The Rockies will get Jorge De La Rosa back from Tommy John surgery this year, but they need to let guys like Drew Pomeranz and Tyler Chatwood earn their way instead of sending them to the minors after their first mistake.

    The rotation is better than a year ago, but that's not saying much. Once the Rockies find some pitching, they'll get back to relevancy.

4) San Diego Padres

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    2012 Record: 76-86 (4th in NL West)

    Key Additions (Courtesy of Baseball Prospectus): C Rene Rivera, SS Cody Ransom, RHP Freddy Garcia

    Key Departures: None

    Outlook: It's not too often you see a team not lose any of their key components from a season ago, but it also means that the Padres didn't have anything too spectacular to risk losing.

    The Padres tied for 23rd in runs scored last year, and the confines of Petco Park didn't help matters as only two players were able to hit double-digit home runs (Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin) and only one (Headley) drove in 100 runs.

    There's good news for the Padres offense as the fences have been moved in at Petco Park, and they'll have Quentin's services the entire season in 2013.

    But, bad news surfaced on Sunday afternoon when Headley broke the tip of his thumb.

    The Padres' third baseman had a career season in 2012 and was looking to build off of that. However, this injury will delay his season debut for a month.

    The interesting part for the Padres will be how the pitching is affected by the new dimensions.

    San Diego's pitching was 10th in the National League in team ERA, and nobody on the staff was able to record a WAR over one according to Baseball Prospectus.

    The injury to Headley is a crippling blow for the Padres chances, but if they're able to find some offense, (possibly in the form of super prospect Jedd Gyorko) they can hold their ground until he gets back and go from solid to extraordinary.

3) Arizona Diamondbacks

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    2012 Record: 81-81 (3rd in NL West)

    Key Additions (Courtesy of Baseball Prospectus): 3B Martin Prado, RHP Brandon McCarthy, OF Cody Ross, LHP Matt Reynolds, SS Didi Gregorius, LHP Tony Sipp, SS Nick Ahmed, RHP Randall Delgado, 3B Chris Johnson, C Rod Barajas

    Key Departures: OF Justin Upton, RHP Trevor Bauer

    Outlook: After exceeding expectations in 2011, the Diamondbacks failed to live up to their lofty expectations in 2012.

    As a result, their .500 record resulted in a massive roster overhaul where nobody was safe including pitching phenom Trevor Bauer and blossoming superstar Justin Upton.

    What's left in Arizona is a young group of talent that can make a similar push in 2013.

    What the Diamondbacks have is a solid pitching staff that is a mix of steady veterans and promising prospects.

    Ian Kennedy regressed in 2012 after winning 21 games in 2011, but a return of form can help give this team a legitimate ace to pair with new acquisition Brandon McCarthy.

    Arizona also possesses two star prospects as Tyler Skaggs (ranked 10th in Baseball America's Top 100) and newly acquired Randall Delgado will make an impact later in the year.

    The biggest question for the Diamondbacks will be how the departure of Upton will affect them.

    Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton and Cody Ross will make up the new outfield for Arizona, but none of them had the upside that Upton possessed as a potential MVP candidate.

    If the trio can make Diamondback fans forget about Upton, they can be surprise contenders in the NL West.

2) Los Angeles Dodgers

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    2012 Record: 86-76 (2nd in NL West)

    Key Additions (Courtesy of Baseball Prospectus): RHP Zack Greinke, LHP Ryu Hyun-Jin, 2B Skip Schumaker, LHP J.P. Howell, RHP Mark Lowe, RHP Kevin Gregg  

    Key Departures: OF Shane Victorino, RHP John Ely

    Outlook: It didn't take long for the Dodgers' new ownership group to impact the team's roster as they picked up where they left off after making the blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox last August.

    The biggest move for the Dodgers was plucking the top available pitcher in Zack Greinke off the market with a six-year, $159 million contract last winter.

    Greinke will form a powerful top of the rotation with Clayton Kershaw, but there has to be concerns whether this team will stay healthy enough to realize their potential.

    Greinke has received a plasma injection in his pitching elbow and may not be able to make it to Opening Day. Either way, he's not exactly saying things that are comforting to a team that just hurled an obscene amount of money at him

    Meanwhile, Chad Billingsley had the same procedure after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament late in 2011. The Dodgers are hoping that the same treatment will allow him to skip Tommy John surgery, but it may be wishful thinking on their part.

    An injury to either of them will put pressure on new acquisition Ryu Hyun-Jin to duplicate the success he had in Korea and keep the rotation afloat.

    If the Dodgers can do that, they have the offense to out-slug the Giants and win their first NL West championship since 2009.

1) San Francisco Giants

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    2012 Record: 94-68 (1st in NL West, won World Series in four games over Detroit Tigers)

    Key Additions (Courtesy of Baseball Prospectus): RHP Chad Gaudin, OF Andres Torres, RHP Ramon Ramirez

    Key Departures: RHP Brian Wilson, 1B Aubrey Huff, 2B Ryan Theriot, 2B Freddy Sanchez, OF Xavier Nady, OF Melky Cabrera

    Outlook: The Giants are not a team that wows you on paper offensively, but their pitching is so good that they have the ability to win championships.

    Matt Cain is in the discussion for best pitcher in baseball, and Madison Bumgarner is one of the most promising arms in Major League Baseball at age 23.

    Even the back half of the rotation can upgrade many rotations across baseball as former Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum will be third and Ryan Vogelsong will follow him.

    Their deep pitching doesn't stop at their rotation, as their bullpen continues to be one of the best in baseball.

    Sergio Romo did a terrific job replacing Brian Wilson after he underwent Tommy John surgery, and it was enough for him to Wally Pipp "The Beard."

    The lineup did enough to win the World Series last year, but it needs to duplicate that success.

    Angel Pagan turned a strong postseason into a big payday over the winter, and the Giants also decided to bring back Marco Scutaro under the belief that last year wasn't a fluke.

    Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval will put up big numbers again this year, but if the complementary pieces can have the same effect, a repeat is not out of the question.