Just as it has been the past few seasons, MLB futures odds make the NL West Division out to be a battle between the blood-rival Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants in 2017.
They may be comprised of teams from opposite coasts, but the NL East and NL West divisions are shaping up to be mirror images of each other for the 2017 season, each possessing two very strong teams with the other three squads going through some form of rebuilding or simply trying to hold on and hope for the best.
Not that the NL West projections are anything new considering the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have ruled the division for several seasons. The Dodgers, in fact, are aiming for their fifth consecutive division crown while the Giants, who in 2016 failed in their attempt to win a fourth straight even-year World Series title, have finished first or second six of the last seven years.
But do either the Dodgers or the Giants have what it takes take to win the NL pennant or World Series>? Will any of the other three teams surprise us by contending for the playoffs, or at least spoiling the bids by Los Angeles and San Francisco?
Solid Rotations & All-Star Closers Highlight LA & SF
There are some differences between the top two contenders in the NL East and West divisions, and the biggest is that unlike the Washington Nationals and New York Mets, the Dodgers and Giants went out in the offseason and addressed their bullpen needs to keep that from being a shortcoming.
Los Angeles, sitting third on the MLB futures odds at 6/1 behind the Chicago Cubs and Nationals to win the National League, re-signed closer Kenley Jansen to a 5-year, $80 million contract. He'll be anchoring a bullpen that should get plenty of save opportunities with Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill at the top of the rotation. The Dodgers also brought back third baseman Justin Turner and traded for Tampa Bay second baseman Logan Forsythe to join Adrian Gonzalez (first base) and NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager (shortstop) on the infield. All told, LA will enter the campaign with a payroll around $220 million, tops in the majors.
After the bullpen let San Francisco down at the end of the 2016 season, the Giants made one of the most crucial offseason free agent splashes by landing Mark Melancon on a 4-year, $62 million deal. The Giants, who are 13/2 to win the NL, boast a deep rotation led by Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, and are counting on improvements in an offense that was banged up last season and ranked ninth in the league in scoring (4.41 rpg).
Can Greinke Bounce Back For D-Backs?
It's a steep drop-off behind the Dodgers and Giants as far as the MLB odds go. The Colorado Rockies check in third on the list at 40/1 to win the Senior Circuit following a 2016 season that saw them finish 12 games below .500. Their biggest offseason acquisition was free agent Ian Desmond, formerly of the Nationals and Rangers, who is expected to play first and fill out an impressive infield that finds MVP candidate Nolan Arenado on the opposite corner.
Next up are the Arizona Diamondbacks at 50/1. The Snakes lost 93 games last season but could be a team to watch early on if some of the pitching comes through. Zack Greinke will have to rebound from a poor showing, but the rotation could be better than advertised with him, Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray and Archie Bradley.
San Diego rounds out the division at 60/1, and even those long odds might be something of an optimistic number for a Padres team that was overhauled in the winter. Don't expect them to be part of many winning free baseball picks once April arrives.