Alas, we come to the conclusion of our regular season series, as we wrap up our Community Roundtables before pitting the three division winners against one another in a free-for-all poll for AL/NL supremacy, with the two winners meeting for the first inaugural MLBDD Series.
Part Three was overwhelmed with Les Tigres.
This week, the NL West is decided.
They always seem to be missing something. Finishing a Royal-ish 74-88, Colorado still boasts some star power in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. The trick is getting them both to stay on the field for a full season; they missed a combined 88 games last year but still managed to collect 10.5 fWAR between them. They got a surprisingly good offensive performance out of Michael Cuddyer (.331/.389/.530) but were hindered by his atrocious defense. On the flip side, Nolan Arenado provided sterling glovework at third (and he's only 22), but the bat needs to come around (79 wRC+).
Jhoulys Chacin had an ERA (3.47) that matched his FIP, and now he is likely to start the season on the disabled list. Tyler Chatwood looked much better in his second major league stint, improving across the board (except in strikeouts). Right now, Jorge de la Rosa is the opening day starter and LaTroy Hawkins might be their closer.
Always seem to be missing something.
Speaking of teams missing things, the Padres could use with better everything. Specifically, more health, better pitching, and better hitting. Carlos Quentin will be the left fielder for whenever he isn't hurt. A full season from Yonder Alonso would also be a nice change-of-pace. Yasmani Grandal played in what amounts to one month of games. Those are three guys they are going to be relying on much of the year,and their fortunes wax and wane with them.
Speaking of full seasons, I'm very interested to see what Andrew Cashner does this year. The same can be said for Ian Kennedy, recently acquired Josh Johnson, Tyson Ross, and Eric Stults, the five of whom are likely to make up the Padres' rotation (when healthy). There's a lot of volatility to that roster, both from the perspective of unknown unknowns [NSFW] and injury risks. Godspeed, Friars.
It's probably fair to say that Hunter Pence was a successful signing, as he played all 162 games, putting up a .283/.339/.483 triple slash and managed not-as-bad-as-expected defensive numbers. He was actually more valuable (5.4 fWAR) than catching wunderkind Buster Posey (4.8), but I feel more comfortable with Posey reproducing those numbers year-in year-out than I do about Hunter being worth as much as Shin-Soo Choo or Troy Tulowitzki again. Brandon Belt is starting to come around and Gregor Blanco (good job, Dayton Moore!) continues to be a productive, well-rounded player.
The pitching, though, really needs to figure some things out. Tim Lincecum and, mor apropos, Matt Cain both underperformed expectations last year; neither posted an average season (by WAR) and both will be making $18m+ this season.
They could theoretically make a push, but they also decided that Michael Morse was a good signing. Sabean is an odd one.
If there is one thing you can say for sure about the National League non-DH rules, it is that you get to see some of the more laughable positional alignments in baseball. Case in point; Mark Trumbo will get to play left field this year, for a team that should theoretically contend for the division, but certainly for a Wild Card spot.
Between Paul Goldschmidt, Gerardo Parra, Martin Prado, Aaron Hill, and now Trumbo, Arizona certainly has a good offensive team to put out there on a nightly basis. Miguel Montero is capable of much more, and Chris Owings showed decently in his brief time last year.
Patrick Corbin looks good, Wade Miley has promise and McCarthy brings some stability to the rotation. If Bronson Arroyo maintains and Trevor Cahill puts in a full season, Arizona would be the divisional favorites. Except...
...there's this team in LA with a bank vault, and beneath that bank vault is an apparatus that prints money hand over fist, giving them the purchasing power to best even the toughest competition in the league. It also doesn't hurt that they hit a veritable home run with international signee Yasiel Puig, who was the Dodgers' third-most valuable position player despite not making his first appearance until June 3rd. Hanley Ramirez would have been an MVP candidate if his numbers had carried out over a full season, instead of the 82 games he played. They also still have Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, and a guy you may have heard of named Matt Kemp, who is currently their $21 million fourth outfielder.
It's an embarrassment of riches, and it doesn't end on the offensive side of things. Clayton Kershaw will be the richest player per annum starting in 2015 (and he will be worth every cent). Zack Greinke can boast a golden arm and a two-cent disposition, which will have him making $23 million or more for the next five years. Hyun-Jin Ryu rounds out the top three, and he's slacking behind with his 3.00 ERA (compared to Kershaw's appalling 1.83 and Greinke's 2.63).
Stay tuned for next week, when the Community Roundtable moves to the postseason.