NL West power rankings: Who will be ‘Best in the West’ in 2016? – Sports Out West
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NL West power rankings: Who will be ‘Best in the West’ in 2016?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Excitement for the 2016 season to kickoff is beginning to flow with opening day just weeks away.

The NL West has long been considered one of the better divisions in all of baseball this past decade, with the Giants and Dodgers going head to head for the top spot in the division on a regular basis. And this year should be no different, following active and very different types of offseason’s for the storied rivals. Known to be big time money spenders, the Dodgers avoided any huge long term commitments to free agents this past offseason, while the Giants, not particularly known to dish out money, spent a combined $251 million to Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Denard Span.

But the team that had the most active offseason was the Arizona Diamondbacks. After hitting their way to the top of most offensive rankings, the Diamondbacks decided to go all in with some splashy signings and trades, including stealing Zack Greinke from the division-rival Dodgers. But will Arizona’s offseason revamp lead to a postseason birth for the first time since 2011? Or will they be this year’s San Diego Padres? 

Speaking of the Padres, after a busy offseason last year which resulted in a lousy season, the Padres kept fairly quiet, in fact they lost their most productive hitter in Justin Upton to free agency. Will they have enough fire to compete for the postseason? Let’s take an in-depth look at this year’s NL West.

Offense:

1.) Arizona Diamondbacks
2.) San Francisco Giants
3.) Los Angeles Dodgers
4.) Colorado Rockies
5.) San Diego Padres

The Diamondbacks had arguably the best offense in the NL West in 2015, lead by power hitting and MVP runner up Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt will be turning 28 this year and is just entering his prime years, so his ceiling is scary high. The Diamondbacks also saw A.J. Pollock turn into one of the best all-around center fielders in baseball, hitting .315 with 20 home runs and posting a ridiculous 7.4 WAR.

The Diamondbacks scored an average of 4.4 runs a game last year, and there is very little reason to believe they’ll struggle to produce runs this year.

The Giants lead the National League in batting average last year, and while they don’t have many guys that will hit the ball out of the park, they play sound station to station baseball and averaged 4.3 runs per game last year. 

While the Dodgers possess some of the best power hitters in the division, they also tend to strikeout a whole lot. And while the Rockies always have an advantage given their bandbox called Coors Field, the loss of Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Monreau and a few other players will hurt their overall offense.

Pitching:

1.) San Francisco Giants
2.) Arizona Diamondbacks
3.) San Diego Padres
4.) Los Angeles Dodgers
5.) Colorado Rockies

The Giants added a co-ace in Johnny Cueto and another innings eater in Jeff Samardzija to pair with ace Madison Bumgarner. If Matt Cain can stay healthy, and that is a big “if” then the Giants pose one of the best rotations in all of baseball. Factor in their lights out bullpen, and the Giants have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. Playing half their games in a pitcher friendly AT&T park behind one of the best defenses in all baseball certainly helps.

The Diamondbacks added Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to pair with Patrick Corbin. And while that is a significant upgrade to a pitching staff that posted a 4.06 ERA, questions remain around their #4 and #5 starters along with a lackluster bullpen. 

Meanwhile, the Padres posses a fairly young but experienced rotation with a ton of ceiling if they can put it together. The Dodgers, however, did very little to replace the departed Zack Greinke, and their pitching will hurt them this year. With a market that was flooded with top tier arms, it was confusing as to why the big spending front office opted against adding a co-ace to pair with Clayton Kershaw.

Overall rankings:

1.) Arizona Diamondbacks
2.) San Francisco Giants
3.) Los Angeles Dodgers
4.) San Diego Padres
5.) Colorado Rockies

Rarely do you see a team completely revamp their team during an offseason and see it workout. Just ask the 2015 San Diego Padres or the 2012 Miami Marlins. But, the timing for the Diamondbacks to go all in was now. With Goldschmidt and Pollock entering their prime years, the Diamondbacks were just a few pieces away from being legit contenders. They upgraded their shortstop blackhole by adding Jean Segura, who has declined a bit but is still very solid. And, once you get into the postseason, anything can happen. The Diamondbacks posses one of the best 1-3 pitchers in the Nation League, and they have the offense to back it up. 

The Giants are well aligned to compete once again in an even year, but health remains a big question mark. They have already had a good amount of injuries this spring, and while most are minor, they are all of some concern to a certain degree. If the Giants can stay healthy, 2016 will be a very good year for them. If they cannot, well, they do have good depth at every position, but the year will certainly be bumpy. 

The Dodgers did very little this offseason, and while they have some good young talent on this years roster, it may not be enough to overcome the Diamondbacks or Giants. Pitching will be a big question mark for them, and come July, they will be in the hunt for some top young arms if they feel a postseason birth is within reach. How Corey Seager and Joc Pederson perform in 2016 will be the driving force of whether the Dodgers will do well or not. 

The Rockies and Padres, while still dangerous in that the Rockies can hit and the Padres can pitch, neither team is talented on both side of the game to be considered legit threats for the division title. 

 

 

 

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Kunaal Madhavan

Kunaal loves talking baseball. In his spare time, he is an active volunteer assisting in youth camps for some of the top athletes in the Bay Area.
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