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By Ben Lewis
1. San Francisco Giants (92-70)
They may have barely snuck into the playoffs last year, but their rings show just how well put together this team is. With a starting rotation that features some of the best young arms the league has to offer, their offense can afford to put up relatively low totals as they watch the opposing hitters sit down one by one. Throw in one of the best young phenoms in Buster Posey and you have the makings of a squad that can compete in a fairly mediocre division for years to come.
2. Colorado Rockies (85-77)
I have one question for all of the doubters out there: “what kind of monstrosity of a line would Tulo have put up over 162 games?” Scary thought huh? Oh, AND they have a Triple Crown candidate too? The pitching staff is the only knock I can find against this team, but with Ubaldo at the top of the rotation it can’t be too bad.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (81-81)
Boy, if there is one common denominator in the NL West, it is young studs. Sure there’s Posey, Cargo, Latos and Upton, but the 1-2 punch of Kershaw and Billingsley makes a Padres fan like me shiver. We saw (hopefully) the worst-case scenario out of Matt Kemp last year and Andre Ethier is no joke. Of course, being the Dodgers, something or other will go wrong and .500 is where they will hover.
4. San Diego Padres (79-83)
Watching Adrian Gonzalez go should have brought a tear to my eye, but such is the fate of a “small market” fan. Last year I begged for the Pads to prove me wrong and they sure did. Well, up until the final 20 games or so. Then the paper façade fell and the real Friars were revealed. There just isn’t a big bat here and Petco can only protect them 81 games out of the year. I might be a little overly cynical here, but I guess they will just have to prove me wrong again.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (75-87)
I’ll tell you what, if the D’backs could make contact with the ball they would be one helluva team. Of course, that seems to be asking a lot of a studless batting order. Let’s face it; without a major overhaul, this team is a few good developmental years away from ever challenging for a division title again.