The Dodgers are going to set a payroll record this year, but will it be enough to win the NL West? The MLB odds have LA favored over San Francisco.
Our fourth of six division previews includes last year's World Series winners from San Francisco. The Giants have brought the big hardware home two of the last three seasons after completely annihilating the heavily favored Detroit Tigers in the 2012 Fall Classic. Bruce Bochy's troops return basically the same team that swept the Tigers, and not much different than the team favored to win the NL West entering last April.
Despite the two World Series crowns in three seasons, the Giants begin 2013 playing second fiddle to their rivals from Los Angeles. The Dodgers are expected to be a major player this October with a star-studded roster that will set a new MLB payroll mark.
It was a little more than a month ago when we projected LA to be the +475 favorite to win the NL based on numbers at the time, and the Dodgers opened at +400 this week on the futures odds board at Bovada. Showing up just ahead of them at +375 are the Washington Nationals, and the top 5 in the NL concludes with Cincinnati (+600) ahead of Atlanta and the Giants (both +700).
Rivalry Resumes On West Coast
The Giants and Dodgers have been good theatre going back to their days in New York more than 100 years ago. With San Fran coming off another World Series title and LA sporting an expensive lineup and mound corps, their matchups this season should be especially fun. In fact, we will get to see the rivals go at it on Opening Day (April 1) when the G-Men and Bums start a 3-game set at Chavez Ravine.
It can't be stressed enough that bettors planning to get in on MLB futures odds action check out the schedules before laying down their cash. A quick look at the slates for LA and SF reveals some interesting little tidbits, like the Dodgers playing 24 of their first 39 at home, and 45 of the Giants' initial 54 games taking place in the Pacific Time Zone.
Los Angeles has a slight edge over San Francisco as far as the schedules go, starting with a 10-9 home-away advantage in the head-to-head matchups. The Dodgers also have 4-3 home-away edges vs. the Braves, Phillies and Reds, and the Giants will play two extra division games on the road with a 37-39 home-away slate in the NL West.
There's no question that Los Angeles has a roster most teams envy. Among the position players are Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford, as good a quintet at the top of a batting order as you can find and it would not be surprising to see any of them push their way into the discussion for NL MVP honors. Manager Don Mattingly also has a very deep group of starting pitchers headlined by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Depending how spring battles go, LA has several arms, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly to name two, that could be dealt for help elsewhere.
But as we've seen before, a huge payroll does not a championship team make. And as witnessed two of the last three years, Bochy and the Giants are more than capable of winning it all.
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Snakes, Pads & Rocks Fight For Third
Lest we forget, the NL West is more than just the Dodgers and Giants, though they appear to be the only teams relevant for our MLB picks regarding the '13 NL playoffs. The Arizona Diamondbacks (35/1 to win NL), San Diego Padres (40/1) and Colorado Rockies (50/1) complete the division, and combine for roughly the same payroll LA begins the season with.
Arizona jettisoned a big chunk of its outfield and payroll by dealing away Justin Upton and Chris Young, plus parted company with highly touted pitching prospect Trevor Bauer. The D-Backs still have a nice rotation and bullpen, and manager Kirk Gibson won't let this team quit, so it wouldn't be a shock to see them contend for a postseason invite should either the Dodgers or Giants falter.
The Padres will begin the campaign with the lowest payroll in the division (around $63 million), and were only five wins shy of .500 last year. It's tough to imagine San Diego reaching that 76-win mark in 2013, however.
Colorado finished third in the NL in scoring last season (4.7 rpg) despite only having Troy Tulowitzki in the lineup for 47 games and Carlos Gonzalez experiencing another down season. The Rockies should once again put up some gaudy offensive numbers, thanks in part to playing at Coors Field, but the pitching staff could be ugly and a 90-loss season is certainly within their reach.Don't forget to check out my AL West Futures article~