1. San Francisco
2. Arizona (wild card)
3. Los Angeles
5. San Diego
The NL West is the home of some of the game’s brightest stars in Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, Buster Posey and Tim Lincecum of San Francisco and Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki. But the teams are not so great. San Francisco with its pitching, and Arizona with its grit, should fight it out for the division title. The loser will get one of the two wild cards.
The Giants will trot out Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner every five days. Add to that Ryan Vogelsong — if 2011 was too much of an aberration — and Barry Zito. The bullpen is stingy; led by closer Brian Wilson and setup man Sergio Romo. But who will generate the offense? Good question.
Manager Kirk Gibson did a masterful job in his first full season as skipper in Phoenix. He has two horses atop his rotation in Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson. The bullpen is a little iffy and other than Justin Upton, there is no fear in this lineup either.
The recent sale of the Dodgers should begin the transformation of one of the game’s most storied franchises. The Giants and D’backs need to win while they can before the big blue monster is unleashed. Kemp and Cy Young winner Kershaw are impressive cornerstones.
Colorado actually has a chance to compete this year, but will need better-than-expected seasons from its starting pitching. San Diego has no chance.
Best Starting Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
Best Hitter: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
Best Manager: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco
Rising Star: Dee Gordon, Los Angeles
Most wins next five years (2013-17)
1. Los Angeles
2. San Francisco
5. San Diego
— Charlie Miller
Follow Charlie on Twitter @AthlonCharlie