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NL West Futures: Dodgers Still The Class Of MLB’s Deepest Division

The road to the National League West crown has gone through the City of Angels, as the Los Angeles Dodgers have claimed the division title in each of the last five seasons. Of course, last season the Dodgers won a league-high 104 games, claimed the division title by 11 games and made it to the World Series.

That is even more impressive when you consider the NL West was also home to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, the two teams that claimed the NL wild-card spots in the playoffs.  

Here’s a look at the division odds and your need-to-know information entering the 2018 season for the top-heavy NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers -260

The Dodgers front office wisely did nothing to rock the boat after their stellar season last year. The starting rotation and lineup will remain the same and for good reason. The team has arguably the best pitching staff top to bottom in all of baseball and has the luxury of Clayton Kershaw – the best pitcher of this generation – taking the bump every five days. Even if Rich Hill can’t replicate his amazing 2017, the pitching staff still has a wealth of talent in Alex Wood (27 years old), Kenta Maeda (29) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (30).

Offensively, the Dodgers were better than average for the most part in 2017. They were in the top half of the league in runs, home runs and slugging percentage. The team struggled to hit for average by and large but that was never really an issue thanks to their power. And considering two of their three best hitters (Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger) are both younger than 24, the Dodgers should only get better at the plate.

The Dodgers will likely win the division again. Even if they regress in 2018, they are still likely a few games better than both the Diamondbacks and Rockies.

San Francisco Giants +550

Few teams retooled quite like the Giants did during the winter months. After winning just 64 games last season – their fewest since 1994 – the team added Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria and Austin Jackson. McCutchen gives the Giants a legitimate leadoff man, Longoria brings power and Jackson brings a stable on-base player in the back of the order.

The Giants are better than 64 wins – there is too much talent for them not to be. However, are they even the third-best team in the division?

The Giants wisely stood pat with their pitching staff. Madison Bumgarner missed half of last season due to a moronic dirt bike injury but as long as there are no lingering issues, he’ll be one of the best pitchers in the NL. Johnny Cueto is still a lethal No. 2 as long as his persistent issue with blisters doesn’t plague him like it did in 2017.

The big issue comes in the bullpen, as the Giants were OK at best after their starters left the mound. That led to their injury-riddled starting rotation pitching deeper into games than it likely should have, which greatly hurt their overall performance.

The Giants are better than 64 wins – there is too much talent for them not to be. However, are they even the third-best team in the division? I don’t think so. This is one of those teams where the talent is not greater than the sum of its parts.

Arizona Diamondbacks +600

It took only one season for the D-backs to go from obscurity to a playoff-caliber team – something that should continue this year. Arizona is built in a mold similar to the Dodgers, as the team has a rock-solid rotation and batting order – even with J.D. Martinez in Beantown. 

Zack Greinke has had a bad tendency to yo-yo between Cy Young-worthy and downright bad over the past several seasons but he remains one of the best pitchers in baseball when he is on. Behind him, though, the D-backs are set for the long haul with Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker on the right side of 30.

If any team is truly prepared to usurp the Dodgers, it is the Diamondbacks.

The team will obviously miss Martinez’ bat if he chooses to leave in free agency but Arizona has plenty of bats. Paul Goldschmidt is a perennial MVP candidate, A.J. Pollock is one of the best all-around outfielders in the game (when he’s not hurt) and Jake Lamb was a revelation at the plate.

If any team is truly prepared to usurp the Dodgers, it is the Diamondbacks. They own one of the best young rotations in baseball, a lineup filled with big-time sluggers and a bullpen that should actually be improved this season.

Colorado Rockies +800

The Rockies have something that I don’t know if I have ever seen in my life – a good rotation. Pitchers have avoided Coors Field like the plague thanks to the thin air of Colorado but the team has developed several young, potentially great arms in-house. Of the eight pitchers to start for the Rockies in 2017, four were 25 or younger and none were older than 28.

Sure, the bats get a lift from playing in Colorado but it became abundantly clear last season that Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado are two of the best hitters in baseball. When you add in the perennially underrated consistency of DJ LeMahieu, the only major hole in the lineup is the tendency of several players to be undisciplined at the plate.  

The most intriguing spot comes at first base. Last season, Mark Reynolds continued to be nothing more than a stopgap solution who swings at damn near everything and he has not officially re-signed with the team. Prospect Ryan McMahon is ready for MLB reps but getting another stopgap – maybe Reynolds again – to ease the youngster in would be wise.

San Diego Padres +400

Guess what? The San Diego Padres are rebuilding. Yeah, it’s shocking. A team that has seemingly been consolidating young talent for years and years has yet to convert many of them to anything more than average major leaguers. Manuel Margot looks like a gem and Hunter Renfroe still has potential despite his middling first season but this offense still might be the worst in the league.

The pitching staff is largely a mishmash of taped-together veterans and younger players who the Padres hope reach their potential. Jhoulys Chacin – who was the team’s best starter last season – is gone, which leaves the No. 1 role to Clayton Richard. I don’t really think there is much else to say.

On the bright side? The Padres farm system is loaded and they are the only show in town now that the Chargers are gone.

Odds to win the 2018 National League West Division
Los Angeles Dodgers-260
San Francisco Giants+550
Arizona Diamondbacks+600
Colorado Rockies+800
San Diego Padres+4000

Odds as of March 7 at Bovada