Making Sense of the NL West

Led by Buster Posey, the San Francisco Giants have World Series hopes in 2016. Courtesy of Wikimedia

Led by Buster Posey, the San Francisco Giants have World Series hopes in 2016. Courtesy of Wikimedia

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By Peter Valentino 

Led by Buster Posey, the San Francisco Giants have World Series hopes in 2016. Courtesy of Wikimedia

Led by Buster Posey, the San Francisco Giants have World Series hopes in 2016. Courtesy of Wikimedia

The first line in the theme song to “Full House,” set in San Francisco, California, is “Whatever happened to predictability?” Well, predictability seems to have found its way to the San Francisco Giants organization. The Giants have taken over the role of baseball’s dynasty that was previously held by the Yankees of the late 1990’s, and there is a good chance that they will keep it going this year. There is no reason to believe they have dropped off yet, but there are two other teams in the NL West that will have something to say about the whole “even year” theory.

One of those teams is the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team that has matured very quickly. The team drafted first overall in June of last year and are now seen as World Series contenders, thanks to the signing of Zack Greinke and trades for Shelby Miller and Jean Segura. By making so many aggressive moves, General Manager Dave Stewart has proven that now is the time to win for the Diamondbacks. They have an MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt and an above average lineup. After Greinke and Miller, Patrick Corbin is a solid third starter, and Rubby De La Rosa led in many pitching categories for the team in 2015. While the team is not stacked per se, this team is definitely all in. Look for them to be buyers at the trade deadline, because the Diamondbacks are going for it this year.

While the Los Angeles Dodgers are headed downhill, they are still a good team. They have intriguing prospects in Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias, but they will not be able to retain them because of their absurdly high payroll. Although its decline is coming, the team can still win the division, largely because of a great rotation featuring Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-jin Ryu. Yasiel Puig will have to play like the star he was intended to be, and the recently re-signed Howie Kendrick will need to step up as well. However, the division could come down to the final series of the season versus the Giants. This team has one or two years of good baseball left, but the impending downfall will be harsh.

I am going to group the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies into one, because both teams are stuck in limbo. The teams cannot commit to a total rebuild, but they also cannot go all in and win now. The Padres tried the “win now” plan in an epic trade with Atlanta right before the 2015 season, but that backfired tremendously. The team refused to sell its parts at last year’s trade deadline, leaving it with no present and a bleak future. It has a few young players, such as Colin Rea and Cory Spangenberg, but it is not enough. The Rockies are another anomaly. They have made some trades, giving away Troy Tulowitzki and Corey Dickerson, but neither one brought back a great return. Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez will still mash the ball out of Coors Field, and Jon Gray looks like an ace in the making, but this team still seems stuck in the mud. Although the Rockies’ firepower is fun to watch, it may be a while before this team is competitive.

All of these facts point to the possible continuation of the Giants’ dynasty. This team is not only elite, but also fully restocked. In addition to their core of Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner, they signed Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto and Denard Span this offseason. They also have lots of young talent in Matt Duffy, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Brandon Belt. This team is battle-tested and knows how to win in the playoffs. This Giants team just might keep the “even year” trend going.

While the D-Backs and the Dodgers are both very good teams who are in “win-now” mode, the Giants seem primed to win it all again. They have the pitching, the hitting and the mindset of a winning team. So rev up the “even year” talk again, because it looks like the Giants are ready for another title run.