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How The Wild National League West Will Be Won

Devin Altschul |
March 20, 2011 | 7:56 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

It will be a tough battle to win the West (Creative Commons)
It will be a tough battle to win the West (Creative Commons)
The west was truly wild last year as the race for the National League West championship came down to the last day of the season.

The San Francisco Giants may be coming off of a World Series Championship, but the division won’t be handed to them. The Rockies and Padres should come out swinging this season, and the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are looking to find the winning ways that slid out from underneath them last year.

The NL West is full of talented rookies waiting to get their time in the spotlight. It's also a division that boasts the defending World Series Champion Giants and hosts a Dodger team looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2010 run. It should be an interesting and thrilling season.

It’s hard to repeat a World Series, but the Giants will have a smooth transition coming into 2011. Not only do they have Buster Posey, their Rookie of the Year catcher, but also Miguel Tejada at shortstop and a stacked pitching rotation including aces Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

They lost some big hitters this offseason but are looking to their young guys to deliver. If their hitting can produce four to five runs a game they can possibly be the first repeat champions in the NL since the 1970s.

The Colorado Rockies made a run at the postseason and got going at the end of last season, so this year it’s crucial that they win games early on and don’t dig themselves into a hole. If Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Gonzalez, and Jorge De La Rosa can show up this season they will have one of the better rotations in the league.

Troy Tulowitzki ended last season with a bang and will provide the offense that the Rockies will need in this year’s highly competitive National League.

Their weakness comes with their pitching. The Rockies’ closer situation will be troubling if Huston Street cannot stay healthy.

We will see if the Rockies can start off as strong this year as they finished last season.

The Arizona Diamondbacks may be in for a long season. With a new manager and starting rotation that struggled last year, the D’Backs will have to find a way to use their talent.

Adam LaRoche and Chris Young will be returning and giving Arizona some power, but the D’Backs will need to improve the rest of the teams’ averages in order to compete.

The additions of Armando Galarraga, Daniel Hudson and closer J.J. Putz will hopefully give this team the confidence they need to start climbing from the bottom of the NL to the top.

The San Diego Padres were just a couple games shy of first place in the NL West last year, and are looking to come into the 2011 season fighting hard for that top spot. With a lot of new faces, solid defense, and strong leadership among the players, it seems that the Padres are a team to watch out for.

The departure of Adrian Gonzalez is quite a loss, but the additions of Jason Bartlett, Jorge Canti, and Brad Hawpe are expected to add some power to the offense. Mat Latos, Clayton Richard, and ace closer Heath Bell are all returning this season, so expect the Padres to once again put up a good fight.

Last but not least, the Los Angeles Dodgers may be able to turn last season around with a deeper pitching staff and the offensive power from Juan Uribe.

New manager Don Mattingly has some big shoes to fill, but Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier might make his job a little easier if they can perform at the plate. With Manny Ramirez gone and the McCourt-divorce media frenzy dying down a little, the Dodgers will have less distraction and will hopefully be able to perform to their full potential.

With such a young team this season, they can only continue to improve and lay a future foundation for the Dodgers team.


To reach Devin Altschul by email, click here.



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