Everyone is always dogging on this division. It used to be with good cause. However this group is deceptive. With the Rockies making noise in the playoffs in 2009 and the Dodgers beating the Cards in the divisional series, there is an argument to be made that this may be one of the stronger divisions. With that I dub the NL West the “sneaky hot” division.
Granted each team has their question marks. The top two teams may falter if their staffs cant hold it together long enough to get to their bullpens each game. This young season has already illustrated that the Dodgers pitching is so bad that the Pirates are able to tee off on them.
The Giants tout one of the best rotations in the game. They will also get a boost offensively with Pablo “I’m so fat they relate me to a panda around these parts” Sandoval having another year under his belt. The Padres have some depth, especially if Chris young can find his form. I will go out on a limb and say the Padres will win at least a couple of games this year.
Things should be tight out west. There is no clear cut power house in this small division. The two teams that will vie for control of the division may have their fortunes told by one key acquisition, Chone Figgins.
The Angels did not tout a powerhouse team last year. What they did well was to put runners on and work station to station. Figgins epitomized their strategy with his high OBP and ability to get into scoring position with his speed. Now on the Mariners, Figgins will change the fortunes of a few games in Seattle’s favor. This and solid defense will give them the edge in this division.
I would normally not count out the craftiness of Oakland. This year however, they are looking less young and promising and more old and decrepit. Their team is in perfect position to make some late season trades for more talent to stock into their farm system.
Lets work from the bottom up here. The Pirates are essentially The University of Pennsylvania baseball team with a nicer stadium to play in. You can’t approach their team with what they lack because it is so bountiful. Instead lets look at what they have. Andrew McCutchen. There that is it. So, let’s move on.
The Reds have pitchers but they will again be slain at the hands of Dusty Baker. The Astros have mediocrity so that’s a plus if you aim for the middle of the pack. The Cubs still have that goat thing hanging around their neck. Which brings us to the teams that matter.
The obvious clear cut favorite in this division of miscreants is St. Louis. They have the best tandem of pitchers in the league and Albert Pujols. Both will be enough to reach the playoffs.
The main point I want to make here is the underrated talent of the Brewers. Most have this team finishing third or later. I struggle to find the reasoning in a division of average ball clubs. They have a decent rotation with a solid bullpen. Milwaukee’s lineup has both power and speed. This should be no challenge to bypass Chicago’s curse or the Astros patchiness.