The National League West Division will be a two-horse race. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres are far, far better than the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and San Francisco Giants. You could probably put together a roster with the best players from those three teams and it would still finish third in the division by at least five games.
The Dodgers are the reigning World Series Champs from the bubble and this has been some kind of run for them. The Dodgers have won the NL West eight years in a row. They’ll probably make it nine, but the Padres are finally on their heels after an impressive 60-game sprint last season and a major commitment to improving the starting rotation over the offseason.
They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a lot of good players and the Dodgers have done exactly that. We’re talking about a team that is 149-73 over its last 222 games. A team that is +409 in run differential in that span. A team that has won three of the last four NL pennants.
Do the Padres have what it takes to unseat the champs in the division? They’re certainly stacked on paper and look to have a great chance, but as Ric Flair always said, “To be the man, you have to beat the man”. Right now, the Dodgers are “the man” until proven otherwise.
Odds To Win The NL West Division
|Los Angeles Dodgers||-250||-250|
|San Diego Padres||+200||+200|
|San Francisco Giants||+4000||+4000|
The offensive explosion for the Giants was one of the most interesting developments in baseball last season. San Francisco went from a paltry, pathetic offense in 2019 to a borderline top-five group in wRC+ and wOBA last season. Some alterations to Oracle Park turned one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball into a launching pad and the Giants took full advantage.
Unfortunately, their pitching staff did not show similar signs of improvement. With Oracle Park playing much differently, the Giants went from a 4.38 team ERA in 2019 to a 4.64 in 2020. Their FIP went down, but their xFIP went up and their K% went down, even though we saw a league-wide strikeout increase yet again.
I happen to like the Diamondbacks more, with what could be a great rotation and an offense due for a huge bounce back, especially on the road, but there is a reason why the Snakes are +5000 to win the division.
There is a reason why the Giants are +4000.
That means we have to look at which team between the Dodgers and Padres is best-equipped to beat up on Colorado, Arizona, San Francisco, and the rest of the league. Basically, it means we have to decide if we want the plus price on the Padres or if it will be business as usual with another Dodger division crown.
There aren’t many holes for either team now that the Padres have retooled the rotation, though Mike Clevinger will be unavailable because of the second Tommy John procedure of his career. Even without Clevinger, the Padres boast a rotation with new acquisitions Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove. Musgrove leaves a toxic situation in Pittsburgh to return home to the West Coast, where many will expect his endlessly optimistic profile to finally bear fruit.
Even if Chris Paddack is terrible again, the Padres have completed all of these trades and acquisitions without losing Adrian Morejon, Mackenzie Gore, and several other capable young arms.
Betting on the Padres here will be an attractive option because of all the splashes that they made over the winter and the promise and potential of the burgeoning stars on the roster. To me, though, the Dodgers are still the king of this mountain. They have the better, safer offense. I also believe they have the safer rotation, as Snell, Dinelson Lamet, Musgrove, and, to a lesser degree, Darvish all have injury red flags.
The same could be said for several Dodgers, including the barking back of Clayton Kershaw and multiple worries about David Price. A year off for Price should be beneficial to his arm health, so I’ll give the benefit of the doubt there. Walker Buehler is going to win a Cy Young one of these years. Dustin May has emerged as a legitimate rotation piece. Julio Urias continues to be one of the game’s most underrated performers. Josiah Gray is lurking in the minors and the Dodgers do an excellent job of developing pitching talent from within. Oh, yeah, and they added reigning Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer.
Both of these teams have the potential to be great and should be. These are the two highest win totals in the National League.
I don’t see any equity in Padres +200. I don’t think they win this division one out of every three times. The default option is Los Angeles -250, but I’m a lot less excited about that than I was about the Yankees at -200 as a chalky play. I won’t have any bets here.