I believe out of all the divisions in baseball the NL West has to be the most intriguing. The former 2011 Division champion Diamondbacks look primed to defend their title but it will be no small task, especially with the rotation that the San Fransico Giants boast. I mean this is the same Giants team that won the World Series just two years ago. Now if only Buster Posey wasn’t so much of a defensive hero I might be writing about the two time champion Giants. To add a little more “crazy” to the division, the Dodgers possibly possess the best hitter, Matt Kemp and the best pitcher Clayton Kershaw, in the game. The Rockies are no slouch either, their line-up contains the best one-two punch in the National League with Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitski. And then we have the San DiegoPadres …………. I got nothing they’re pretty terrible.
Currently the NL West has three of the top four outfielders in the game; and if Ryan Braun didn’t have naked photos of Bud Selig, I would argue that the NL West had the three best outfielders in the game.
Matt Kemp had one of the greatest seasons of all-time last year. He finished first in home runs, first in RBIs and third in batting average, oh and he stole 40 bases in the process. A lot of so-called experts don’t think that he will be anywhere close to repeating those numbers this season, however this so-called expert won’t be that quick to judge. He has always showed signs of being an enormous talent until Rhianna came in to his life and screwed up his 2010 performance, and as soon as Kemp realized that Rhianna isn’t “the only girl in the world”, couldn’t resist, he focused all of his energy on baseball in 2011 putting up that monster last year. Look for something close to that again especially if Andre Ethier can stay healthy. Remember Kemp is only 27 years old, he is just entering his prime.
Carlos Gonzalez, AKA Cargo, despite missing a month due to nagging wrist injuries, still managed to put up his second consecutive 20-20 season. Now Cargo does have a tendency for using his home field to his advantage hitting 80 points higher at home in each of his first three seasons, but it’s not like this guy disappears on the road, he hit 10 of his jacks away from Coors Field last year. Having Troy Tulowitski, AKA Tulo, for protection is a luxury not many elite hitters have. Barring those pesky wrist issues, I expect Cargo who is only 26 years old to be a fantasy stud this year.
Justin Upton is only 24 years old. Doesn’t it feel like he’s been in the majors forever and somehow he is only 24. This guy could be the best pure hitter in the game if he could just work on first staying healthy and secondly not striking out so much. Last year was the first time that Upton managed to play in 140 plus games, he has to stay on the field in order to become a true fantasy stud. He has already been 20-20 twice and I expect that this could be the year he enters the 30-30 club, but his health will be the determining factor.
When it comes to pitching no one can touch the Giants, I believe that they have the number one rotation in the game. Led by Tim Lincecum who has a crazy amount of twist and tork in his wind up but has always managed to stay healthy and dominate opposing hitters. Matt Cain has to be the most under-rated pitcher in all of baseball, his numbers are always amazing but never ridiculous. He’s usually top 10 Cy Yound award candidate every year and yet he’s easily forgettable on fantasy draft day. Madison Bamgarner probably has the absolute filthiest stuff on this team. He had 191 strikeouts in his first full season and tied for 11th in Cy Young voting last year; He tied with his teammate Ryan Vogelsong, former journey man turned all-star. Their rotation has no holes from top to bottom, lucky for manager Bruce Bochy the bull pen usually closes the door when given the opportunity. Unfortunately even with all that amazing pitching, the hitting on this team will need to improve or the D-Backs may over take them for the division.
San Francisco Giants 90-72
Arizona Diamondbacks 89-73
Colorado Rockies 82-80
Los Angeles Dodgers 80-82
San Diego Padres 70-92
Best Hitter: Matt Kemp
On the Rise: Buster Posey
On the Decline: Chase Headley
Comeback: Andre Ethier
Sleeper: Yonder Alonso
Best Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw
On the Rise: Madison Bumgarner
On the Decline: Chad Billingsley
Comeback: Edinson Volquez
Sleeper: Cory Luebke
I like the Giants staying healthy and winning the division with the D-Backs taking one of the two wildcard spots. I expect a lot of excitement this year in the NL West and I look forward to watching the roller coaster unfold all season long!