Wednesday, March 23, 2016

MLB Preview 2016: NL West

            We wrap up our MLB Preview with a look at the NL West. The NL West is an up-and-coming division with teams making significant upgrades (Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants), teams losing in the offseason (Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres) and one team standing pat (Colorado Rockies). Let's wrap it up!!

Arizona Diamondbacks
Sweet Dream: The new additions of Zack Greinke (1.66 ERA, 19-3, 200 SO, 0.84 WHIP) and Shelby Miller (3.02 ERA, 171 SO) help form a great 1-2 punch in the rotation. The fielding (86 errors, tied for eighth-fewest in baseball) does a decent job. Paul Goldschmidt (.321 BA, 33 homers, 110 RBI, .435 OBP) leads a formidable lineup and has an MVP-caliber season as the D-Backs make it to the postseason.
Nightmare: The rotation (11th in the NL in ERA at 4.37) doesn't hold up in spite of Zack Greinke. Hell, none of the pitching holds up as the Diamondbacks miss out on the postseason and fall at least 12 games under .500.
Colorado Rockies
Sweet Dream: A lineup that features Nolan Arenado (.287 BA, 42 homers, 130 RBI, 177 hits), DJ LeMathieu (.301 BA, 61 RBI, 23 stolen bases, .358 OBP), and a healthy Carlos Gonzalez tears through baseball. They also take advantage of the thin air at Coors Field as everything else holds up enough to get the Rockies into October baseball.
Nightmare: Everything else falters. The pitchers can't figure out how to pitch at Coors (or anywhere, for that matter). Carlos Gonzalez gets traded as the Rockies are stuck in last place, seemingly stuck in the rebuilding monotony.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Sweet Dream: The best fielding team in baseball (75 errors, .988 fielding percentage, both best in baseball) saves the pitchers (5th-best team ERA at 3.44) plenty of runs. Clayton Kershaw (16-7, 2.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 301 SO) has another Cy Young-like year and gets help from new acquisition Kente Maeda as the Dodgers bring home their first World Series title since 1988.
Nightmare: Andre Ethier's right tibia fracture hurts the Dodgers' lineup. Losing Zack Greinke hurts the rotation considerably. The Dodgers lose too many quality players from a season ago either to a bad offseason (free agency) or injury as they fall around .500, missing the postseason. If they do make the postseason, they get eliminated in the Divisional Series due to Clayton Kershaw's postseason problems and lack of hitting.
San Diego Padres
Sweet Dream: Tyson Ross (3.26 ERA, 212 SO) shows he has ace material as he forms a great duo with James Shields (13-7, 3.91 ERA, 216 SO). Matt Kemp (23 homers, 100 RBI) has another decent year along. Derek Norris (14 homers, 62 RBI) improves as the Padres stay in contention until September.
Nightmare: A gutted bullpen can't close the door on opponents. The lineup is bogged by the pitcher's park known as Petco Park as no one can hit above .280; only Yonder Alonso (.282 BA) hit above .280 with at least 100 plate appearances in 2015 and he's gone to Oakland. The Padres look like a mess as their future outlook appears bleak.
San Francisco Giants
Sweet Dream: New additions Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija benefit from not only being in the National League, but from pitching in a pitcher's ballpark. They help Madison Bumgarner (2.93 ERA, 18-9, 234 SO, 1.01 WHIP) shut down opposing hitters early and often. Buster Posey (.318 BA, 19 homers, 95 RBI, .379 OBP) has another MVP season. The infield talent featuring Brandon Belt (.280 BA, 18 homers, 68 RBI), Joe Panik (312 BA, .378 OBP), and Brandon Crawford (21 homers, 84 RBI) help propel the Giants to another World Series title. After all, it's an even-numbered year!!
Nightmare: The team gets slammed with either injuries or disappointment. The bullpen doesn't do a whole lot, especially after losing Sergio Romo (2.98 ERA, 71 SO, 34 holds. 1.06 WHIP). The outfield can't produce a lot of hits as the Giants barely miss out on another postseason.

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