Much like the Diamondbacks with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the San Francisco Giants dominated with spectacular pitching and just enough offense.
The Giants won’t have an easy time holding off Colorado, which has a better offense and a deep starting staff. The Los Angeles Dodgers have made changes in the dugout and on the field and need Matt Kemp to mature. It was a magical 2010 for San Diego, but does anyone really expect the Padres to duplicate 90 wins without Adrian Gonzalez? Arizona was 27-45 against division foes last year and has a weaker pitching staff.
Here’s an inside look at the odds to win the NL West and their season win totals:
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Last season’s record: 65-97
Projected season win total at: O/U 72.5
Odds to win NL West: +2,227
Biggest impact loss: 3B Mark Reynolds, 1B Adam LaRoche
Biggest impact addition: OF Xavier Nady, RHR – J.J. Putz
Diamondbacks outlook: Kevin Towers was brought in as general manager to clean up the mess no one saw coming in Arizona. In 2007, a young nucleus of players that had come up through the farm system and blossomed, winning the division with 90-72 record. Nobody at that time would have imagined that would have been the high-water mark.
Towers first order of business was to overhaul the bullpen, which was the third worst in Major League history with 5.74 ERA. He’s hoping closer J.J. Putz can regain the form he had in Seattle. David Hernandez and Juan Gutierrez are being counted on as set-up men. Skipper Kirk Gibson will have hands full with arguably the worst starting staff in the National League.
The everyday lineup has potential with CF Chris Young and SS Stephen Drew. Both are capable of extra bases hits and strikeouts. Justin Upton doesn’t turn 24 years old until late August and has the fifth-highest on-base + slugging percentage (.824) in 40 years for a player 23 or younger with 1,500 at-bats.
Season win total pick: Over 72.5
Last season record: 83-79
Projected season win total: O/U 86
Odds to win NL West: +201
Biggest impact loss: 2B Clint Barmes
Biggest addition: IN/OF Ty Wigginton, RHR Matt Lindstrom
Rockies outlook: Colorado’s starting pitching isn’t as strong as San Francisco’s, yet it looks to have the components to keep the Rockies in the NL West race all season. Ubaldo Jimenez was unhittable his first 14 starts a year ago, with a 13-1 record and 1.15 ERA. National League scouts love his ability and mental makeup, but wonder about his complicated delivery. Behind him are Jorge De La Rosa and 23-year-old Jhoulys Chacin. The real key will be the health and reliability of Aaron Cook and Jason Hammel to fill out rotation.
Acquiring reliever Matt Lindstrom was a shrewd move but could pay off if more issues develop for closer Huston Street and he should fit nicely with Rafael Betancourt in the late innings.
Colorado was third in the National League in runs scored and with Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Todd Helton and Ian Stewart, the Rockies lineup could be the top-scoring bunch in the NL. Newcomer Ty Wigginton gives manager Jim Tracy more flexibility against tough left handers.
Season win total pick: Over 86
Los Angeles Dodgers
Last season record: 80-82
Projected season win total: O/U 84
Odds to win NL West: +350
Biggest impact loss: Joe Torre, C Russell Martin
Biggest impact addition: RHP Jon Garland, RHR Matt Guerrier
Dodgers Outlook: The Dodgers are the biggest wildcard in the division. After winning 95 games in 2009, Los Angeles slumped badly and finished a dismal fourth last year. Manny Ramirez was a clubhouse distraction and Matt Kemp became a malcontent. More than one player had an off year and Joe Torre was unable to communicate effectively with his club. Will new manager Don Mattingly be able to lead and not make silly gaffes like last season?
General manager Ned Colletti didn’t sit still, signing 10 free agents. Though most are mid-range talent wise, they do address the Dodgers’ needs. Adding P Jon Garland gives L.A. six legitimate starters, something that was lacking a season ago, along with Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw and Ted Lilly specifically. This helps the boys in blue in a division that is all about pitching and defense.
This is crucial year for Kemp, who had an Andruw Jones-sized drop off last season. Kemp is a plus or minus on offense, as Andre Either, James Loney and Casey Blake will put up usual numbers.
Season win total pick: Over 84
San Diego Padres
Last season record: 90-72
Projected season win total: O/U 76
Odds to win NL West: +1,266
Biggest impact loss: 1B Adrian Gonzalez
Biggest impact addition: OF Cameron Maybin, 1B Brad Hawpe
Padres Outlook: San Diego led the NL West for 148 days before faltering, leaving plenty of gaping jaws on the West Coast. An even bigger shocker would be if the Padres come anywhere close to last year’s win total.
The loss of Adrian Gonzalez leaves a chasm in the batting order and the pickups of Brad Hawpe, Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson don’t figure to have much impact on offense. Last year’s second-best pitching staff (3.39 ERA) has changed - and not for the better. Jon Garland is gone and though Mat Latos has No. 1 starter stuff, he’s given the role by default. After Clayton Richard, the rest of the starting five is a moving target.
Last year’s biggest strength, the Padres bullpen, has witnessed defections, though setup men Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams still remain along with closer Heath Bell. But will the Padres be competitive enough to give these arms a chance to shine in the late innings?
Season win total pick: Under 76
San Francisco Giants
Last season record: 92-70
Projected season win total: O/U 88
Odds to win NL West: +138
Biggest impact loss: SS Juan Uribe
Biggest impact addition: SS Miguel Tejada
Giants Outlook: The starting staff has two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, along with other young pitchers like Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner, which gives San Fran backers the belief that they can be perennial National League contender. San Francisco was not dependent on its starting pitching alone, having a bullpen that helped them have a MLB-low ERA of 3.36 and held opposing batters to just .236 BA. Brian “the beard” Wilson returns as closer.
Offensively, the Giants were only average, ranking ninth in the senior circuit at 4.3 runs per contest. Beyond catcher Buster Posey and 3B Pablo Sandoval, are a slew of journeyman players. San Francisco is projected to be NL West champion again, but let’s not forget the Giants were 6.5 games behind San Diego on August 26. The Giants closed 21-13 and Padres fell into the Pacific Ocean with 14-23 mark in their last 37 tries.
It will be interesting to see how the young pitchers come back from all those extra postseason innings, as well as if the Giants’ everyday guys can come through in the clutch like they did in October.
Season win total pick: Under 88
Odds provided by Pinnacle.com.