The National League West was competitive right until the wire in 2012, and that test proved to benefit the division champ and eventual World Series winning San Francisco Giants. The Giants were led by MVP catcher Buster Posey, timely hitting from its infielders, and a pitching staff anchored by Matt Cain led to one of the most resilient postseason runs in history. San Francisco won seven different games where they faced elimination before sweeping the Tigers in the Fall Classic. The Los Angeles Dodgers offered the stiffest competition during the regular season, especially after their blockbuster trades with the Boston Red Sox. This year, the Dodgers have all of those offensive pieces ready from day one to compliment its own starting rotation led by young phenom Clayton Kershaw. They have plenty of injured players, too, but the deep Los Angeles pockets are sure to make the midseason roster retooling period interesting if they’re contending.
Elsewhere in the NL West, the Arizona Diamondbacks traded away much of their outfield in the offseason but still plan to contend because of deep, balanced roster aimed at grinding out wins with good decisions and timely hitting. The D-backs staff added often-injured but more-often interesting and successful pitcher Brandon McCarthy to give their mound presence that same kind of smart, reliable attitude. The Colorado Rockies are hoping that a full healthy season from All World Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will help improve their offensive performance across the board. The Rockies pitchers will need to work as hard as ever to keep opponents visiting Coors Field at bay long enough for their own firepower to win the day. Finally, in beautiful San Diego, the Padres are looking to have another challenging season because of thin pitching and a lineup seemingly built to wait on the quick development of their minor league system. The Padres better hope for an especially rainy year, because they need their farm to bear fruit very, very quickly. Don’t count on it; after all, how often do you hear about a cloudy, wet forecast in San Diego?