National League West Preview: 2019’s Surprise Division

SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 5: Hunter Renfroe #10 of the San Diego Padres is tagged out at third base by Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies during the seventh inning of a baseball game at PETCO Park on April 5, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Hunter Renfroe;Nolan Arenado

Some of the biggest moves in Major League Baseball happened in the National League West. That, combined with age and injuries, will change the look of the division this year. Those who like variety will be happy this year since the last time the West was won by someone other than the Los Angeles Dodgers was 2012.

Colorado Rockies

2018 Record (Finish): 91-72 (2nd)
Predicted 2019 Record (Finish): 92-70 (1st)

Yes, they lost DJ LeMahieu to free agency. The past-their-prime Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez are also gone. However, the addition of Daniel Murphy has done some to offset the losses. Young David Dahl and Ryan McMahon should also be solid additions to an already scary lineup. Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon are tremendous two-way players who bring back memories of the mid-90s Blake Street Bombers. Their pitching staff is not as strong as one would like for a contender, but keep in mind that starting 16 games in Denver is not on the top of the to-do list of the league’s elite hurlers. Having said that, they could do a lot worse than Kyle Freeland and German Márquez.

Last year’s wild-card team will continue their strong play in 2019. This will be the year that they grab the elusive division crown for the first time in team history.

Arizona Diamondbacks

2018 Record (Finish): 82-80 (3rd)
Predicted 2019 Record (Finish): 92-70 (1st)

This team will surprise people. They have been written off due to the Paul Goldschmidt trade and the losses of Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock to free agency. However, their pitching staff remains solid, and with Taijuan Walker due to come back from Tommy John Surgery and Archie Bradley’s fingernail healing, it looks to be closer to 2017 form. Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray will each add another strong season to their resumes. The additions of Wilmer Flores and Adam Jones will give them a boost as well.

Remember that this team led the West on the first of every month last year except for October. Only a September collapse kept them out of the postseason. They certainly remember. Look for them to grab a Wild Card berth and be in the running for the division flag all the way into the last week of the season.

San Diego Padres

2018 Record (Finish): 66-96 (5th)
Predicted 2019 Record (Finish): 83-79 (3rd)

The addition of Manny Machado brought league-wide attention to the Padres. He, Eric Hosmer, and Wil Myers will be tasked with leading the crop of young talent through the season. The news that shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. will be on the 25-man roster is a bright spot for a club whose prospects are among the tops in the league.

There is little pressure on this club since they are expected to be good in a few years. With a club so young and loose, the recipe is there for a surprising finish. They will be a few games above .500, all while building experience for a nice playoff run in the coming years.

Los Angeles Dodgers

2018 Record (Finish): 92-71 (1st)
Predicted 2019 Record (Finish): 82-80 (4th)

They will not be able to trade for Manny Machado this year to get them over the hump. Yasiel Puig is gone. However, their offensive depth will still help them win games. The return of Corey Seager will help as well, but injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill will hurt the team more than many realize. Kershaw’s shoulder injury will keep him out until the end of April at the earliest, and Hill’s knee will sideline him for a few weeks as well. Keep in mind that Hill is 39-years-old. Injuries tend to last longer than expected at that age, especially ligament injuries.

They will still be a good team, but the injuries to the pitching staff will keep them from continuing their streak of division championships.

San Francisco Giants

2018 Record (Finish): 73-89 (4th)
Predicted 2019 Record (Finish): 65-97 (5th)

With no major additions to an aging team that was not very good last year, it is hard to see them finishing anywhere but in the cellar. Ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner should have another strong season, but he cannot pitch every game. With his potential free agency after the season, he could be shipped to a contender for a gaggle of prospects at the end of July.

Outlook

Other than the Giants, this should be a competitive division. The team to look out for more than any others will be the Rockies. A berth in the National League Championship Series will not be out of the question for them. East Coast baseball fans should make sure to have MLB.tv so they can watch these teams play without having to stay up until 1 am. It will be worth it.

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