By: Josh Fleck
With pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training on the 13th, I thought it would be fitting to do a preview of how I think the American and National leagues will both play out this year. I will take an in-depth look at what each team will do this year, starting on the west coast and making my way east.
National League West:
1: Los Angeles Dodgers- 100-62 (92-70 in 2013, 1st in NL West)
The Dodgers have one of the most dominant pitching rotations in all of baseball on paper. But that is the thing, the game isn’t played on paper. If the Dodgers can avoid the injury bug and score runs like they can with the likes of Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers should be in contention for a World Series title. The X-factor with this team will be the health of Matt Kemp. With a healthy Kemp, the Dodgers are THE team to beat in my opinion.
2: Arizona Diamondbacks- 93-69, 1st Wildcard (81-81 in 2013, 2nd in NL West)
The Diamondbacks made several key moves this offseason which should push them into the playoff picture. The additions of Bronson Arroyo, Addison Reed and Mark Trumbo to a flourishing lineup will give the boost they needed. While I’m sure they would have preferred a left-handed power bat to help protect Paul Goldschmidt, Trumbo offers unreal power from the right side of the plate and is a budding star in the majors.
3: San Francisco Giants- 81-81 (76-86 in 2013, 4th in NL West)
The way the Giants play the game is relying on pitching and defense. The pitching wasn’t all their last season as Matt Cain regressed immensely and Ryan Vogelsong all but disappeared after a breakout season in 2012. With a longterm contract on lockdown, Tim Lincecum should be back to his old ways and the Giants will be on their way back to the top. Hunter Pence will have a full season in San Fran and hopefully he will be able to be a productive hitter for a team that lacks that offensive punch.
4:Colorado Rockies- 75-87 (74-88 in 2013, 5th in the NL West)
The offene in Colorado has never been a problem, and the team did a great job of replacing Todd Helton at first base with the Canadian Justin Morneau. His left-handed power will slot in well around the five-spot in the batting order. The pitching staff has a lot to prove and it won’t be an easy task in Coors Field. If Brett Anderson can regain the form he had with the Athletics he could be the deciding factor to move the Rockies up a few spots in the division.
5: San Diego Padres- 59-103 (76-86 in 2013, 3rd in the NL West)
The Padres didn’t really do a lot in the offseason to make their team better, and I believe they will take a step back with their team. They didn’t do enough to compete in their division, with their best move in the offseason being the signing of Josh Johnson. Everth Cabrera coming back from suspension will give the offence a reliable bat at the top of the order and a potential for 50+ steals, but that won’t be enough.
Check back in a few days when we will take a look at the American League West.