Division Predictions: NL West
What is going on, ball boys and girls? As always, I hope you guys are doing super well. Going into spring training, I wanted to gather all the divisions to predict the division's outcomes. I also wanted to predict the most likely CY Young, MVP, and ROY from each division. For each team in the said division, I will give you a breakout candidate, rebound candidate, an impact NRI(non-roster invite), and one Rookie to watch.
Without further ado, let's talk about the NL West!
LA Dodgers: 105-57
SD Padres: 102-60
SF Giants: 82-80
Colorado Rockies: 70-92
Arizona D-Backs: 65-97
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MVP: The MVP is coming from either the Dodgers or Padres in this division. I have to go with the best player, one of the best teams in this situation and give it OF Mookie Betts. In 2nd in 2020 MVP voting, Mookie will get his NL MVP to go along with his 3rd World Series Ring in 2021. Mookie should easily hit 29+HR, 90+RBI, and slash .290/.380/.500+ on his way to the award.
Other candidates: Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Cody Bellinger, Mike Yaztremski, Trevor Story, Ketel Marte
Cy Young: The biggest Cy Young snub, in my opinion, was Yu Darvish. The peripherals were better than Bauers, and all Bauer had on him was a slightly lower ERA and some strikeouts. However, Darvish had a more significant impact, and he will continue that impact in 2021. The Padres are going after the Dodgers, and Darvish will compete with the Dodgers rotation(Bauer, Walker, Kershaw) to win the Cy Young.
Other candidates: Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Blake Snell, Trever Bauer, Kevin Gausmen, Madison Bumgarner
RoY: Ha-Seong Kim- The Rookie sensation from the KBO is coming to the MLB ready to compete. Coming off a 30HR, 109RBI, .306/.397/.523 season in the KBO, Kim is ready to take the MLB by a more significant storm than Ichiro and help the Padres beat the Dodgers.
Players to Watch: Dodgers
I honestly think that Walker Buehler is just barely getting started in the MLB. He was a 1st round pick for a reason. The 2019 season was only a glimpse at the upside. Buehler has yet to show us what he can do genuinely. 2019 was great with 14W, 3.26ERA/3.01FIP, and the All-star nod. However, give me 2021 with a better offense, better rotation, and great pen behind him. I think Buehler could have a better season than both Bauer and Kershaw.
After opting out of the 2020 season, the 35yo Price is primed to get back on the field and fill in the fourth spot in the Dodgers' rotation in 2021. The career 3.31ERA/3.35FIP and the fact that Price is a future Hall of Famer proves he will bounce back even more potent than ever.
The NRI to watch is Brandon Morrow revived his career with the Dodgers in 2017 pitched to a 2.06ERA/1.55IP over 43.2IP. Morrow hasn't pitched in the MLB since July 15th, 2018, due to a series of injuries. He did it once with the Dodgers; why not do it again?
The Rookie I got my eye on is C Keibert Ruiz. The Austin Barnes/Wil Smith combo doesn't give a ton of hope for Ruiz getting a shot at the roster in 2021.
Players to Watch: Padres
After posting a 1.7WAR and a 2nd place finish in the Rookie of Year voting, Jake Cronenworth is only getting started. The 27yo posted a .285/.354/.477 slash line for the Padres in 2020. Look for Cronenworth to stay in the lineup and play 2B, 1B, and maybe even some LF for the Padres in 2021 just for them to keep his great bat in the lineup.
After a disappointing first two seasons with the Padres, no one needed a decent 2020 more than Eric Hosmer. Hosmer ended up hitting .287/.333/.517 in his 38 games played and 156PA. Hosmer is paid $18mil a year, and any more down-season or not playing in at least 3/4 of the games isn't going to fly. Hosmer is a 4x AL Gold Glove winner and has yet to show that same defense level for the Padres. The Padres need Hosmer to give his all in his age 31/32 season.
The NRI to watching is RHP Nabil Crismatt. Crismatt is only 25yo and debuted in 2020 with a 3.24ERA over 8.1IP with the Cardinals. All 3 of his ER came via the home run. If he can reign this is a bit, then the Padres have a good, young, controllable bullpen weapon.
The obvious Rookie to watch is Ha-Seong Kim. But, also keep an eye on MacKenzie Gore. The organization's top prospect was invited to camp and should get an extended look in spring to see if he is ready for the bigs.
Players to Watch: Giants
I am crazy about 30yo Mike Yastrzemski. After posting a 2.7WAR, .297/.400/.568 slash in 192AB for the Giants in 2020. I do not doubt that Yaz is the best player on the team. Do not sleep on Yaz as one of the best late bloomers in all the MLB. One of the most extensive breakouts is coming.
The most crucial rebound candidate is Anthony Desclafani. Coming off 2020, in which he posted a 7.22ERA/6.10FIP in 33.2IP, the righty will need to find his groove in the bay. The 2019 3.89ERA/4.43FIP over 166.2IP paint a better picture of who DeSclafani is as a pitcher. I am considering 2020 an outlier for him, and I have faith in the Giants system, where Keven Gausman revived his career into an $18.9mil QO. Why can't he?
The NRI to watching in the camp are RHP Jay Jackson, RHP Zack Littell. Jackson has spent parts of the last four seasons in the NPB pitching to a 2.16ERA over 183IP. Littell has a strong 49:23 K-BB ratio in 63.2IP in parts of the last three seasons. Both should be vital factors in the bullpen mix this spring.
; The Rookie I got my eye on is C Joey Bart. With Buster Posey coming back for 2021, which is the last year of his contract. We could see him at 1B more while Bart takes over behind the plate. In 103AB in 2020, he posted a 0.3WAR .233/.288/.320 slash. He also only caught 18% of runners stealing, allowed two past balls, two errors, and 0DRs. With Posey back in the picture, Bart has a great mentor next to him.
Players to Watch: Rockies
I was all in on Raimel Tapia last season, and the hype continues for the 27yo outfielder. After playing in 51 games and posting a .321/.369/.402 slash over 206PA. I am all in Tapia to breakout this season.
SP Antonio Senzatela(3.44ERA/4.57FIP), SP Kyle Freeland(4.33ERA/4.65FIP), SP Jon Gray(6.69ERA/5.06FIP). The problem wasn't solely on these three for the woes felt during the 2020 season. However, they all need to bring down the runs if the Rockies even want to have a chance at winning some games. Each needs to bring the ERA/FIP down around 3.5 if they hope to compete and prove to us that the Arenado trade didn't start a rebuild.
The NRI that I am watching in camp is 1B Greg Bird. Bird has battled injuries since 2015 and has only been able to post a .194/.287/.388 slash over 522PA. Should Bird show he is healthy enough to be on the field, I can see Bird bringing a great value to the Rox.
The Rookie I am watching is RHP Ryan Rolison. Rolison is the organization's #2 prospect. The 23yo starter owns an 8-9 record over 160IP in the minors. He has a 3.94ERA with 166K-48BB.
Players to Watch: D-backs
I am calling the breakout for C Carson Kelly. After posting a subpar WAR of -0.3. With the limited usage of 39 games and only 129PA, he posted a .221/.264/.385 slash. Looking back at the 2019 numbers of 111 games, 365PA, 18HR, and a .245/.348/.478 slash. The entire Arizona team took a severe step back in 2020 after a wild-card berth in the 2019 season.
The whole team needs to rebound after a great 2019 season, which saw them get a wild card berth; the 2020 season was miserable for many. Madison Bumgarner and Ketel Marte are top 100 players in the MLB and the best pitcher and hitter on the team. Both didn't help the team win in 2020, and I fully expect both the get back into form in 2021.
The NRI to watch in camp is RHP Seth Frankoff. After two strong seasons in the KBO in 2018-19. He posted a 3.68ERA over 266.2IP. I fully expect with an excellent showing to see Frankoff earn a rotation spot.
The Rookie I am watching in camp this spring is INF Geraldo Perdomo. The club's #3 prospect has spent three seasons in the minors so far. The 21yo has shown to be an on-base machine with a .278/.411/.368 slash over 1034PA. Perdomo can play both 2B and SS.
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