The Wild West can be just as wild in the National League as it is in the American League this year. In fact, the divisions look slightly similar. At first glance, it is a two horse race with one team trying to spend their way to the top to de-throne the team that has been sitting at the top for a few years. However, it could be easy to overlook some of the potential upstart teams behind the top two. It will be fun to see how it all plays out.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The only team that can rival the Angels in money spent over the last few seasons is their counterpart on the other side of town. After Magic Johnson and company bought the team, money no longer seems to be an issue. During the 2012 season, they made the blockbuster of all blockbusters (rivals only the off-season trade between the Marlins and Blue Jays) by acquiring Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett from the Red Sox. With a full Spring Training with the club, and a fully healthy Carl Crawford, they should be able to contribute more than what they did last year. Also the addition of Zack Greinke to join Beckett behind Clayton Kershaw in the rotation makes them quite the formidable group. All I have to say is they better win the division or make the playoffs at the least or Don Mattingly will be on his way out the door.
2. San Francisco Giants
Last year's World Series champs seem to be using the same formula as the last few years to bring success, and it has seemed to work pretty well. Lots of pitching with some timely hitting. It's definitely an old school approach, but two World Series win in the last few years seems to show it's successful. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, and Barry Zito make up one of the strongest top to bottom rotations in the league. With reigning MVP Buster Posey and last year's late season acquisition Hunter Pence leading the way on offense, they should put together enough offense to win a lot of games like they have over the last few years. I just think the Dodgers have improved so much, and the Giants stayed put, that the Dodgers will pass them up this year. These two teams could really be interchangeable at the top of the NL West.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are one of those teams that are always on the brink of being a breakout team every year. They seem to have a good year, followed up by the a disappointing year, then impress again the next year, followed up by a bad year. They never seem to be able to take that next step. Now they've traded away their best player in Justin Upton. They brought in some prospects, and have had more turnover than usual in their roster, but they are still a talented team that could surprise some people. Last year they were .500. Look for guys like Paul Goldschmidt and Ian Kennedy to them to finish up right around that level again. They could make a run at one of the top teams as well.
4. San Diego Padres
This team has been one of the worst teams in baseball over the last couple years, but the Padres made a lot of positive strides last year. Look for them to continue to move in that direction with a lot of young talent like Chase Headley, Chris Denorfia, and Nick Hundley. They have a decent pitching staff led by Edinson Volquez as their ace and Huston Street as their closer. Look for them to continue to improve and possibly finish as high as third.
5. Colorado Rockies
No team in this division is bad, but the Rockies seem to be working their way towards success at a slower clip than the rest of the division. Like I said, they're not a bad team. It is impossible to be bad when you have guys like Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki swinging the bats in the middle of the order. The problem with the Rockies is the pitching. They're bad, even for the Rockies. They have some good young arms, but learning to be a big league pitcher in Coors Field is a great way to kill a good young prospect. It's impossible to get good free agent pitchers to choose to go to Denver too. Something has to happen to change this trend for them to have another deep playoff run like they did a few years ago.