NL West Division Preview

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw delivers a pitch during NLCS Game 6. Photo Credit: apardavila – Flickr

David Carey – March 28, 2021

The LA Dodgers had the best season across Major League Baseball in 2020. They led the league with 43 wins putting them 3 clear of Tampa Bay in the regular season before eventually triumphing in the NLDS, after being down big, over Atlanta then flexing in World Series against Tampa Bay. The steps that San Diego took between 2019 and 2020 get an honorable mention in that they rose from being 11 games below .500 in 2019 to being 7 games over .500 in 2020. In 2021 these two teams appear poised to dominate the division and potentially meet in the playoffs.

2020 Standings

Standings courtesy of MLB.com

Los Angeles Dodgers

2021 Win Total Projection: 103.5

The 2021 Dodgers will look even better than the 2020 version of the team, which won the World Series. The addition of Trevor Bauer on a 3-yr $102 mil deal signifies that LA is looking to remain in “win now” mode, if only for at least one more season. The deal solidifies the Dodgers as the top team in the National League and will cause their main competition (Atlanta and San Diego) to battle in order to keep pace. The off season went pretty smoothly for the Dodgers when they avoided arbitration with 6 players including Buehler, Seager, Urias and Bellinger. These are the types of deals players sign when they want to keep the team together with the aim of winning another championship. In the Bullpen LA added Cleavinger, Kahnle and Kneble in addition to signing Blake Treinen to a 2-yr deal. On paper the Dodgers don’t look like they will lose much more than 50 games on the season and are a safe bet for Fantasy Managers if you can afford paying the inflated ADP positions these players will come with.

Team Transactions

  • Oct 28, 2020 Enrique Hernandez 2B Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Joc Pederson LF Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Blake Treinen RP Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Jake McGee RP Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Pedro Baez RP Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Alex Wood RP Declared Free Agency
  • Dec 2, 2020 Corey Knebel RP Traded From Milwaukee (for LHP Leo Crawford)
  • Dec 2, 2020 Scott Alexander RP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Dec 29, 2020 Tommy Kahnle RP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021-2022)(two-year contract)
  • Dec 29, 2020 Garrett Cleavinger RP Traded From Tampa Bay (three-team, four-player deal)
  • Jan 5, 2021 Blake Treinen RP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021-2022; Opt 2023)(two-year contract)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Julio Urias SP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Cody Bellinger CF Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Corey Seager SS Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Feb 10, 2021 Walker Buehler SP Signed ( 2021-2022)(two-year contract, avoids arbitration)
  • Feb 11, 2021 Trevor Bauer SP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021-2023)(three-year contract)
  • Feb 12, 2021 Alex Vesia RP Traded From Miami (with RHP Kyle Hurt for RHP Dylan Floro)
  • Feb 12, 2021 Sheldon Neuse 3B Traded From Oakland (for LHP Adam Kolarek, four-player deal)
  • Feb 14, 2021 Austin Barnes C Signed ( 2021)(two-year contract, avoids arbitration)
  • Feb 19, 2021 Justin Turner 3B Signed as Free Agent ( 2021-2022; Opt 2023)(two-year contract)

Projected Lineup

  1. Mookie Betts, RF
  2. Corey Seager, SS
  3. Justin Turner, 3B
  4. Max Muncy, 1B
  5. Will Smith, C
  6. Cody Bellinger, CF
  7. AJ Pollock, LF
  8. Chris Taylor, 2B

Rotation

  1. Clayton Kershaw, LHP
  2. Walker Buehler, RHP
  3. Trevor Bauer, RHP
  4. David Price, LHP
  5. Julio Urías, LHP

Closer: Kenley Jansen, RHP

San Diego Padres

2021 Win Total Projection: 93.5

The other dog in the fight! San Diego was no slouch in 2020 and had arguably the MLB’s most exciting off-season which was highlighted by Fernando Tatis Jr’s 14yr $340 mil dollar contract. Like LA, San Diego made some splashes in the off season to bolster their pitching. Starters Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove joined Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack to make one of the MLB’s best starting rotations. In the bullpen, seemingly to mirror their division counter part Dodgers, the Padres signed Keone Kela and Mark Melancon to 1yr deals. Both players have spent time closing during their careers and can be a versatile options in relief for San Diego going into 2021. KBO super star IF Ha-Seong Kim comes in on a 4-yr deal which gives some extra attention and excitement to the infield and creates a lot of competition for players like Jurickson Profar and Jake Cronenworth going forward. Historically speaking, this a very good problem to have. The Padres should be a lock and the #2 spot in the AL West this season and could even challenge the Dodgers if they can play well in head to head matchups.

Team Transactions

  • Oct 28, 2020 Kirby Yates RP Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Jason Castro C Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Jurickson Profar LF Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Garrett Richards SP Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Trevor Rosenthal RP Declared Free Agency
  • Nov 1, 2020 Mitch Moreland 1B Declared Free Agency (team option declined)
  • Nov 2, 2020 Yonder Alonso 1B Declared Free Agency
  • Nov 16, 2020 Mike Clevinger SP Signed ( 2021-2022)(two-year restructured contract)
  • Nov 25, 2020 Luis Perdomo RP Cleared Waivers and Became a Free Agent
  • Dec 2, 2020 Matt Strahm RP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Dec 8, 2020 Brian O’Grady LF Signed as Free Agent ( 2021)(one-year contract)
  • Dec 29, 2020 Blake Snell SP Traded From Tampa Bay (for RHP Luis Patino, five-player deal)
  • Dec 29, 2020 Yu Darvish SP Traded From Chi. Cubs (for RHP Zach Davies, seven-player deal)
  • Dec 29, 2020 Victor Caratini C Traded From Chi. Cubs (for RHP Zach Davies, seven-player deal)
  • Dec 31, 2020 Ha-seong Kim SS Signed as Free Agent ( 2021-2024; Opt 2025)(four-year contract)
  • Jan 19, 2021 Joe Musgrove SP Traded From Pittsburgh (seven-player, three-team trade)
  • Jan 27, 2021 Jurickson Profar LF Signed as Free Agent ( 2021; Opt 2022-2024)(one-year, three-options contract)
  • Feb 18, 2021 Mark Melancon RP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021; Opt 2022)(one-year contract)
  • Feb 18, 2021 Keone Kela RP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021)(one-year contract)
  • Feb 22, 2021 Fernando Tatis SS Signed ( 2021-2034)(14-year contract extension)

Projected Lineup

  1. Trent Grisham, CF
  2. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
  3. Manny Machado, 3B
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
  5. Wil Myers, RF
  6. Tommy Pham, LF
  7. Jake Cronenworth, 2B
  8. Austin Nola, C

Rotation

  1. Dinelson Lamet, RHP
  2. Yu Darvish, RHP
  3. Blake Snell, LHP
  4. Joe Musgrove, RHP
  5. Chris Paddack, RHP

Closer: Emilio Pagán (RHP) / Drew Pomeranz (LHP)

San Francisco Giants

2021 Win Total Projection: 73.5

I loved what I saw from San Francisco in 2020. The Giants got to a point where they were 8-16 but managed to battle back and take their playoff hopes down to the last game where they lost on a tie breaker to Milwaukee . The Giants, much like the D-backs, are in a spot where they project to be right around .500 in 2021. Enter Anthony DeSclafani who the Giants hope to bounce back in 2021 and can bolster the pitching staff which also features Gausman, Cueto, Sanchez and a debatable choice between Wood, Webb and Beede. In 2020 Mike Yastrzemski came on strong in 2020 with a .298/.411/.603 and added some great situational hitting which had his name being rattled off in headlines and highlights regularly. I want to be bullish on the Giants going into 2021 even despite the tough division that they find themselves in. I like the Giants to beat their current 73.5 Win projection and finish just over .500 this season.

Team Transactions

  • Oct 28, 2020 Tony Watson RP Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Trevor Cahill SP Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Kevin Gausman SP Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Drew Smyly SP Declared Free Agency
  • Nov 2, 2020 Chris Herrmann C Declared Free Agency
  • Nov 11, 2020 Kevin Gausman SP Accepted Qualifying Offer – Added to Roster
  • Dec 2, 2020 Austin Slater DH Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Dec 2, 2020 Wandy Peralta RP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Dec 2, 2020 Jarlin Garcia RP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Dec 2, 2020 Tyler Anderson SP Not Offered Contract and Became Free Agent (non-tendered)
  • Dec 2, 2020 Darin Ruf LF Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Dec 2, 2020 Trevor Gott RP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Dec 9, 2020 Chadwick Tromp C Signed as Free Agent ( 2021)(one-year contract)
  • Dec 17, 2020 Anthony DeSclafani SP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021)(one-year contract)
  • Dec 21, 2020 John Brebbia RP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021)(one-year contract)
  • Jan 5, 2021 Curt Casali C Signed as Free Agent ( 2021)(one-year contract)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Reyes Moronta RP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 18, 2021 Alex Wood RP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021)(one-year contract)
  • Feb 4, 2021 Tommy La Stella 2B Signed as Free Agent ( 2021-2023)(three-year contract)
  • Feb 4, 2021 LaMonte Wade CF Traded From Minnesota (for RHP Shaun Anderson)
  • Feb 18, 2021 Jake McGee RP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021-2022; Opt 2023)(two-year contract)
  • Feb 18, 2021 Donovan Solano 2B Signed ( 2021)(loses arbitration)
  • Feb 26, 2021 Aaron Sanchez SP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021)(one-year contract)
  • Mar 6, 2021 Jose Alvarez RP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021; Opt 2022)(one-year contract)
  • Mar 18, 2021 Ashton Goudeau RP Acquired Off Waivers From Baltimore

Projected Lineup

  1. Tommy La Stella, 3B
  2. Donovan Solano, 2B
  3. Mike Yastrzemski, RF
  4. Alex Dickerson, LF
  5. Buster Posey, C
  6. Brandon Belt, 1B
  7. Brandon Crawford, SS
  8. Mauricio Dubón, CF

Rotation

  1. Kevin Gausman, RHP
  2. Johnny Cueto, RHP
  3. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP
  4. Aaron Sanchez, RHP
  5. Alex Wood, LHP

Closer: Jake McGee, LHP / Tyler Rogers, RHP

Arizona Diamondbacks

2021 Win Total Projection: 75.5

The D-backs had a little enthusiasm behind them coming into the shortened 2020 season but like so many other teams, didn’t have a team which was in sync by the time they were out of contention. Hard to blame a team like Arizona for being out of it early when they are in a division with the Dodgers and the Padres. At the trade deadline in 2020 Robbie Ray was traded to Toronto and although he was filling the wrong side of a K/BB ratio he was still one of the top options for the Arizona outside of Zac Gallen who posted a 2.75 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP across 12 starts. Coming into 2021 Gallen, Bumgarner, Kelly, Weaver and Smith project near to or slightly above the league average. When we look at the division though, the problem is evident that they won’t stack up very well in comparison to the a fore mentioned Padres and Dodgers. Add in a surgery for Merrill Kelly and you’re looking at at roster that may have been better having Robbie Ray available to them. Arizona’s bullpen really stands out as a soft spot for me in 2021 having turned over multiple positions and featuring only 1 LHP – Alex Young. Come the end of the year I believe that we will be looking at a .500 ball club or potentially just below.

Team Transactions

  • Oct 28, 2020 Yasmany Tomas RF Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Hector Rondon RP Declared Free Agency (team option declined)
  • Oct 28, 2020 Jon Jay RF Declared Free Agency
  • Nov 1, 2020 Merrill Kelly SP Signed ( 2021)(team option exercised)
  • Nov 2, 2020 Eduardo Jimenez RP Declared Free Agency
  • Nov 2, 2020 Alberto Rosario C Declared Free Agency
  • Nov 20, 2020 Rogelio Armenteros RP Acquired Off Waivers From Houston
  • Nov 25, 2020 Junior Guerra RP Cleared Waivers and Became a Free Agent
  • Jan 15, 2021 Caleb Smith SP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Carson Kelly C Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Luke Weaver SP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Feb 6, 2021 Joakim Soria RP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021)(one-year contract)
  • Feb 22, 2021 Asdrubal Cabrera 3B Signed as Free Agent ( 2021)(one-year contract)
  • Feb 25, 2021 Tyler Clippard RP Signed as Free Agent ( 2021; Opt 2022)(one-year contract)

Projected Lineup

  1. Kole Calhoun, RF
  2. Ketel Marte, CF
  3. David Peralta, LF
  4. Christian Walker, 1B
  5. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
  6. Asdrúbal Cabrera, 2B
  7. Nick Ahmed, SS
  8. Carson Kelly, C

Rotation

  1. Madison Bumgarner, LHP
  2. Zac Gallen, RHP
  3. Merrill Kelly, RHP
  4. Luke Weaver, RHP
  5. Caleb Smith, LHP

Closer: Joakim Soria, RHP

Colorado Rockies

2021 Win Total Projections: 62.5

The rebuild is on in 2021 for Colorado who finished 4th in the division last season while posting a -78 run differential during the 2020 season. When I think Colorado Rockies I tend to think Coors Field, lofty game projections and home runs. Unfortunately the Rockies will consistently be on the wrong side of those equations in 2020. On Mar 1st Ian Desmond added that he would be opting out of the 2021 season putting the OF and lineup at a disadvantage going into opening day. While already looking like they were in between era’s leading into the 2021 season the additional talking points of SS Trevor Story getting traded to a contender during the coming season adds further speculation to the point of where Colorado will finish the 2021 season in terms of Wins. Looking into 2021 CJ Cron appears to be a potential steal in Fantasy Drafts regardless of whether or not the Rockies go with a platoon at 1B. We’re not going to look too deep into the potential outcomes for Colorado in 2021. Key in on opponents playing at Coors this year.

Team Transactions

  • Oct 28, 2020 Drew Butera C Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Chris Owings 2B Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 AJ Ramos RP Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Matt Kemp DH Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Kevin Pillar CF Declared Free Agency
  • Oct 28, 2020 Daniel Murphy 1B Declared Free Agency
  • Nov 25, 2020 Jairo Diaz RP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Nov 25, 2020 Robert Stephenson RP Traded From Cincinnati (for RHP Jeff Hoffman, four-player deal)
  • Dec 2, 2020 David Dahl CF Not Offered Contract and Became Free Agent (non-tendered)
  • Dec 2, 2020 Chi Chi Gonzalez SP Not Offered Contract and Became Free Agent (non-tendered)
  • Dec 2, 2020 Tony Wolters C Not Offered Contract and Became Free Agent (non-tendered)
  • Dec 3, 2020 Yoan Aybar RP Traded From Boston (for INF Christian Koss)
  • Dec 15, 2020 Daniel Bard RP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Ryan McMahon 2B Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Raimel Tapia LF Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Carlos Estevez RP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Kyle Freeland SP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Robert Stephenson RP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 15, 2021 Jon Gray SP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 14, 2021 Mychal Givens RP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 12, 2021 Antonio Senzatela SP Signed ( 2021)(avoids arbitration)
  • Jan 29, 2021 Daniel Murphy 1B Retired
  • Feb 1, 2021 Elehuris Montero 3B Traded From St. Louis (for 3B Nolan Arenado, six-player trade)
  • Feb 1, 2021 Austin Gomber SP Traded From St. Louis (for 3B Nolan Arenado, six-player trade)
  • Mar 1, 2021 Ian Desmond CF Placed on Restricted List (opting out of 2021 season)

Projected Lineup

  1. Raimel Tapia, LF
  2. Garrett Hampson, CF
  3. Charlie Blackmon, RF
  4. Trevor Story, SS
  5. C.J. Cron, 1B
  6. Ryan McMahon, 3B
  7. Brendan Rodgers, 2B
  8. Elias Díaz, C

Rotation

  1. Germán Márquez, RHP
  2. Kyle Freeland, LHP
  3. Antonio Senzatela, RHP
  4. Jon Gray, RHP
  5. Austin Gomber, LHP

Closer: Daniel Bard, RHP

In the 2021 season I forecast a two horse race in the NL West. The LA Dodgers and San Diego Padres will be headline material night in night out. If teams like the Giants and D-backs get overlooked while having good seasons which hover around, or slightly over the .500 mark it wouldn’t surprise me. I would look to the players from the bottom 3 teams here and question whether you can benefit from the potential impact they have in a fantasy format as compared to the perception of team relative to the division.

Thanks for checking in with us and going through the NL West division. We’ll be back and looking to cruise into the NL Central quickly this week before finishing off with one of the toughest divisions in baseball. As draft week pushes on, its great to be talking baseball. Best of luck to everyone this upcoming season!

David Carey – March 28, 2021

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