1. San Francisco Giants (92-70)
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (90-72)
3. Colorado Rockies (89-73)
4. Arizona Diamondbacks (79-83)
5. San Diego Padres (70-92)
With the potential exception of the NL East, each division race offers a fairly decent amount of drama and intrigue. The AL West and AL Central in particular have been getting a lot of attention.
That said, the best pennant race this season is going to take place in the NL West, not even two years removed from it being the most pathetic division in baseball.
I was thinking up scenarios and contemplating results up until I started writing this slide, but I'm picking the Giants to win this division. Lincecum and Cain are both Cy Young candidates and Zito and Sanchez at the least will give them innings. They don't have a great offense, but if they can win 88 games fielding as porous an offense as they did last season, I think they'll have more than enough to get by this year.
I've liked the Giants to finish first for a while; picking the second place team and NL Wild Card winner was much more difficult. I don't think the Dodgers took as big a step back as many people do, and the Rockies bring back basically the same team that won the wild card last year.
Ultimately, I see big years ahead for both Kershaw and Billingsley and I think they're still going to score plenty of runs, and that's why I've got the Dodgers winning the wild card. I really have a hard time picking against the Rockies. Somebody's got to get the short end of the stick; in this case, I think its Colorado.
If Brandon Webb was healthy, I'd contemplate picking Arizona to make the postseason. Their offense looks pretty potent, but without Webb their pitching depth looks like a major cause for concern. Potentially, the surprise team of 2010 but they are nowhere near the sure thing the Giants, Dodgers, and Rockies are, and as such I've got them coming in 4th.
The Padres showed some promise last season; some of their young homegrown young talent is starting to make a mark in the majors. However, with the other teams in this division so solid and uncertainty over Gonzalez's status with the team, it's really hard for me to envision them finishing better than 5th.
I could easily see any of the first four teams making the playoffs; it's really impossible trying to handicap this division. I'm psyched to see how the race turns out.