Present & Future of the NL West
This series of blogs is 100% opinion based on who I see as the best players in the NL West and who I can see having a legit shot at the HOF. The "most exciting" are the players who are young but already have shown to have the highest upside. The "on their way" are the players getting closer and closer to the HoF with every year they play. The "honorable mentions" are players who will be on the ballot but will not make it into the HoF. The "future HoF" are the players that I have no doubt will make it into Cooperstown.
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Gavin Lux 2B Dodgers- The young second baseman for the Dodgers hasn't quite lived up to the hype of a first-round pick, but at 23yo he has nothing but time to develop into a star. Lux has become a great defensive option for the Dodgers at 2nd with a .964FLD% and 10DRS in 321INN in the field. The bat hasn't quite come alive yet for Lux as he owns a .210/.278/.377 slash over 138AB. Lux's glovework will keep him in the lineup, and the bat will come around before we know it and make Lux a complete second baseman.
Jake Cronenworth 2B Padres- The NL RoY runner up showed out in 2020 to be a complete hitter and one who can easily beat the shift. Crowenworth posted a 1.6WAR with a .285/.354/.477 slash over 172AB. Age isn't in Cronenworths favor as he debuted at 26yo. Cronenworth will quickly go on to be a solid contributor for the Padres for many years to come.
Trent Grisham OF Padres- The Gold Glove CF of the Padres has a bright future ahead of him. So far, in 834.2INN in the field, he owns a .990FLD% with 11DRS. Grisham is only 24 and holds a 3.0WAR(2.4 in 2020), .243/.342/.437 career slash over 371AB. The glove is great, the bat is average, and he shows many upsides to develop into one of the better CF in the league.
Will Smith DH/C Dodgers- The 25 catcher has been solid since his MLB debut in 2019 for the Dodgers as he has shown outstanding work behind the plate and at the plate with the bat. Behind the dish, he has played 679.2INN with 0E, 1.000FLD%, 2DRS, and 23% CS. Smith has been good with the bat as he owns a 3.2WAR, .268/.363/.574 slash line over 284AB. Smith has nothing but time and opportunity to continue to grow into a great catcher.
Joey Bart C Giants- To say that Bart was nothing short of disappointing in his MLB debut in 2020 would be an understatement. He posted just a 0.3WAR, .233/.288/.320 slash over 103AB. In 231.1INN behind the dish, he posted a .992FLD% with 2E and only threw out 18% of would-be base stealers. Bart should get at least one more season to work behind Buster Posey and learn and grow his game; at 24, he has plenty of time to put his game together.
On Their Way:
Cody Bellinger 1B/OF Dodgers- Belli is only 25 and has accomplished 1 MVP award, RoY, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, NLCS MVP, World Series Champ, and 2x All-Star. Belli is an above-average defender wherever he lines up as he has played 1B and all three outfield positions over 4199.1INN with a .994FLD% and 44DRS. Belli is right there with the glove, and the bat is excellent; he owns an 18.9WAR, 123HR, 318RBI, .273/.364/.547 over 1808AB in only three seasons. Belli is on track to go down as one of the all-time greats in the MLB.
Corey Seager SS Dodgers- Seager is only 26 with five years of MLB service. Seager is well decorated in his career already with an RoY, NLCS MVP, WS MVP, WS Championship, 2x Silver Slugger, 2x All-Star. Seager is impressive with the bat as he owns a 17.8WAR, 88HR, 307RBI with a .295/.362/.500 slash over 2066AB. Seager is part of the mega SS class of the 2021 off-season and is due for a big payday and hopefully a move to 3B or 2B.
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS Padres- El Nino, at only 21, is in talks with the Padres for a considerable extension. El Nino finished 3rd in the RoY in 2019, and in 2020 finished 4th in the MVP and won the Silver Slugger. Tatis Jr owns a 7.0WAR with 39HR, 98RBI, and a .301/.374/.582 slash over 558AB. The future is as bright as it could be for El Nino, and we are all excited to see what is yet to come over the next 15 years.
Trevor Story SS Rockies- The 28yo Story is also part of the mega SS class of winter 2021. Story is a 2x All-Star and Silver Slugger winner. Out of the 3 SS so far on the list, Story is by far the best defender. In 5129.2INN, he owns a .980FLD% with 45DRS. The bat has been nothing short of outstanding with the bat in his hands as he holds a 21.0WAR, 134HR, 375RBI with a .277/.343/.535 slash over 2296AB. Story has many years left to add to his resume for Cooperstown, and he is well on his way.
Charlie Blackmon OF Rockies- The longtime Rox OF has been one of the most consistent hitters over the last decade. Blackmon is a 4x All-Star, 2x Silver Slugger, and won 1 Batting Title. Blackmon holds a 17.9WAR with 178HR, 553RBI, 1311H with a .304/.360/.505 slash over 4313AB. The glove is nowhere near the bat as the -64DRS over 8950INN in the outfield tells the whole story. Blackmon's consistency at the plate will at least give the 34yo a chance at the HoF when he calls it a career.
Brandon Belt 1B Giants- The 32yo Belt has put together a solid career to date. He has earned 1 All-Star appearance with 2 World Series rings. Belt has been a consistently great defender at 1B. With 8427.1INN, he has a .994FLD% with 55DRS. He has posted a 25.1WAR with 1003H, 138HR, 502RBI, .263/.356/.453 slash line over 3811AB. Belt has been one of the best to put on a Giants uniform, and I have no doubt he will resign with the team come next winter.
Brandon Crawford SS Giants- The 33yo Crawford has also been one of the best to put on a Giants uniform. He has earned 2 All-Star appearances, 3 Gold Gloves, 1 Silver Slugger, and 2 World Series. Crawford has been one of the best defensive SS over the last decade. He has played in 10727.1INN with a .975FLD% and 80DRS. The glove has always been Crawford's strength. With the bat, he has a 25.5WAR, 1099H, 106HR, 564RBI, .250/.319/.392 slash over 4402AB. Like Bell, Crawford is signed through the 2021 season, and I have no doubt he will also resign to stay with the Giants to end his career.
Mookie Betts OF Dodgers- You guys remember when the Red Sox traded Betts, and the Dodgers ended up signing him to a 12yr deal worth $365MIL. Then Betts went on to lead the Dodgers to the World Series and win it in 2020. Betts has earned 1 MVP, 4 All-Star appearances, 2 World Series rings, 5 Gold Gloves, 4 Silver Sluggers, 1 Batting title, 1 TSN ML Player of the Year, 1 Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year. Betts is only 28. Betts owns a 45.4WAR, 1029H, 155HR, 509RBI, .301/.373/.522 slash line over 3422AB. You think the bat is amazing; well, let me tell you about Mookies glove work, .989FLD%, 120DRS, 22E over 7313.2INN. Mookie, if he retired right now, would possibly be considered a first-ball HoF. With 11 years left to go on his deal, it's no doubt when he is done; he will be one of the best to do it.
Buster Posey C Giants- The 33yo Posey was one of the biggest reasons the Giants won 3 World Series in 6 years. He has also won 1 MVP, 1 Rookie of the Year, 1 Gold Glove, 4 Silver Sluggers, 1 Batting Title, and 6 All-Star appearances. Posey's iconic #28 has been seen for nearly a decade as the Gold standard for a Catcher. Posey owns a 41.8WAR, 1380H, 140HR, 673RBI, .302/.370/.456 over 4575AB. Posey has been one of the best defensive catchers over the last decade, totaling 8399.2INN behind the dish with a .995FLD% with 119DRS and caught 33% of would-be base stealers. Posey is destined for the Hall of Fame.
Evan Longoria 3B Giants- the 35yo Longoria has been doing great things with the bat and glove for the last 13 years. Longoria has earned 1 Rookie of the Year award, 3 Gold Gloves, 1 Silver Slugger, and 3 All-Star appearances. To add to his Hall of Fame resume, he holds a 56.7WAR, 1752H, 304HR, 1043RBI with a .266/.334/.473 slash over 6576AB. The glove has been excellent in 14264.1INN he owns a .966FLD% with 108DRS. Longoria has helped set the stage for what a fantastic 3B looks like for the two guys below. Longoria is on his way to Cooperstown.
Manny Machado 3B Padres- Machado rebounded nicely in the 2nd year of his 10yr deal. Machado has earned 4 All-Star appearances, 2 Gold Gloves, 1 Silver Slugger, and 1 Platinum Glove so far in his career. Machado owns a 39.8WAR, 1268H, 223HR, 645RBI, .280/.337/.488 slash line over 4531AB. Machado has been a great 3B defensively, posting a .969FLD%, 95DRS in 7978INN at the hot corner. Only seven seasons into his career at 28yo, the sky is certainly the limit, and with Tatis lining up with him for the seeable future, the Padres have a great 1-2 punch.
Nolan Arenado 3B Rockies- 8 Gold Gloves in 8 seasons pretty much sums out how great Arenado plays the hot corner. Add in 5 All-Star appearances, 4 Silver Sluggers, 4 Platinum Gloves in those same eight seasons has set made Arenado the gold standard of the third baseman in the MLB. To illustrate how great Arenado is defensive, 9225INN he has posted a .972FLD% and 120DRS. Arenado has finished 8th('15), 5th('16), 4th('17), 3rd('18), 6th('19) in the MVP voting. Let's add in the bat for Arenado with 39.1WAR, 1206H, 235HR, 760RBI with a .293/.349/.541 slash over 4118AB. Arenado has accomplished all this before 30 and at 29 has at least another 5-7 years of dominance.
Zac Gallen SP DBacks- the 25yo Gallen is quickly developing into a great 2nd option to Bumgarner in Arizona. So far in his career, he owns a 5.2WAR, 6-8 W-L, 2.78ERA/3.64FIP, 1.17WHIP, 178K-61BB over 152IP. Gallen's sample size is small, but he has serious upside and looks primed to continue to rise as one of the most promising young starters.
German Marquez SP Rockies- It is not easy to pitch for the Rockies and the mile-high city. Marquez has been good, not great but done enough to establish himself as one of the more exciting young starters in the MLB. At 25yo he owns a 14.0WAR, 42-30 W-L, 4.24ERA/3.85FIP, 1.26WHIP, 640K-172BB over 634.1IP. Marquez has also earned 1 Silver Slugger award and will head to the top of the Rockies rotation for years to come.
Dustin May P Dodgers- May was excellent in his first full season look for the Dodgers in 2020. May posted a 1.4WAR, 3-1 W-L, 2.57ERA/4.62FIP, 44K-16BB over 56.0IP. May was useful in the post-season for the Dodgers as both a starter and reliever. May is only 23 and is lining up to be a great 3rd option behind Kershaw and Bueler.
Julio Urias SP Dodgers- You could have argued that Julio Urias was by far the best pitcher during the 2020 post-season for Dodgers. The 24yo was excellent in the NLCS, posting a 1.13ERA over 8IP; in the World Series, he posted a 2.57ERA over 7.0IP. Urias now owns a 2.79ERA over 38.2IP with 39K-9BB in the post-season. Urias now holds a 3.3WAR, 12-7 W-L, 3.20ERA/3.47FIP, 1.25WHIP, 232K-90BB over 239IP. Urias is well on his way to being one of the best swingmen in the MLB.
Chris Paddack SP Padres- Paddack is one of the young studs of the young Padres. At 24yo, he already owns a 3.0WAR, 13-12 W-L, 3.74ERA/4.27FIP, 1.05WHIP, 211K-43BB over 199.2IP. Paddack is still learning and growing into his top of the rotation potential.
On Their Way:
Walker Buehler P Dodgers- The 26yo Buehler has been on my radar for years, and we are finally seeing how great Buehler is after being a first-round pick in 2015. Buehler holds a 5.8WAR, 24-9 W-L, 3.15ERA/3.23FIP, 1.02WHIP, 420K-93BB over 365.2IP. Buehler has made 1 All-Star appearance and was part of the 2020 World Series Dodgers. The future is bright for Buehler and the Dodgers.
Blake Snell LHP Padres- The short season for Snell did not help him add to his HoF resume. At the age of 28, he could have at least 5-10 more years in the MLB. Snell has 1 All-Star appearance, 1 Cy Young award and one 9th place finish in the MVP voting. Snell rebounded nicely in 2020 after a rough 2019 season. Thus far in Snell's career, he owns a 3.24ERA/3.50FIP with 348K-232BB over 556IP. Let's speculate if he can pitch at least another seven seasons of 200+IP at a high. I think he comes very close to the HoF. With the trade to the Padres and being surrounded with good coaching and offensive talent, Snell quickly has the future outlook looks bright.
Johnny Cueto P Giants- The 13yr vet has earned 2 All-Star nods and was a massive part of the 2015 World Series Royals. In his career, he holds a 32.1WAR, 128-90 W-L, 3.41ERA/3.84FIP, 1.19WHIP, 1612K-556BB over 1919.2IP. Cueto has one of the unique deliveries in all of baseball. I have always been a fan of Cueto, but the injuries have limited Cueto from where he could be. At 34yo, Cueto could still have a few years left in the tank.
Madison Bumgarner P DBacks- When MadBum left SF and signed with AZ, I was so shocked. MadBum has been one of the most dominant southpaws over the last decade. He is a 4x All-Star, 2x Silver Slugger, NLCS MVP, WS MVP, and 3x World Series Champ. He holds a career 36.5WAR, 120-96 W-L, 3.20ERA/3.41FIP, 1.11WHIP, 1824K-441BB over 1887.2IP. The craziest part is MadBum is only 31 and could still pitch for another 5-7 years and continue his dominance on the mound. Whenever he decides to hand the ball to his manager for the last time, the Hall of Fame will be calling.
Clayton Kershaw P Dodgers- The 32yo Kershaw finally got his ring in 2020. Kershaw added the ring to 1 MVP, 1 Triple Crown, 1 ML PoY, 1 Gold Glove, 3 Cy Youngs, 5 ERA Titles, and 8 All-Star nods. The only blemish on Kershaws HoF resume is the 4.19ERA over 189IP in the post-season across 20 series. However, Kershaw is one of the best, if not the GOAT, when it comes to the regular season. He holds a career 69.6WAR, 175-76 W-L, 2.43ERA/2.75FIP, 1.00WHIP, 2526K-585BB over 2333IP. The 12yr vet is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2021 season, but I don't think the Dodgers will let him walk. When Kershaw calls it a career, he will be a unanimous Hall of Famer.
David Price P Dodgers- Price ended up opting out of the 2020 season, as we all know. Price has earned 1 Cy Young, 1 World Series ring, 2 ERA titles, and 5 All-Star nods. Price holds a career 39.4WAR, 150-80 W-L, 3.31ERA/3.35FIP, 1.15WHIP, 1981K-527BB over 2029.2IP. Price is 35yo and is under contract through 2022; how these next couple of years pan out for Price will determine how quickly he makes it into the Hall of Fame when he decides to hang them up.
Kenley Jansen P Dodgers- It is so hard to find great relievers to put on these lists, but Jansen is as good as they come. The 33yo has 10yrs of MLB service under his belt, with at least a few more to come. In those ten seasons, he has earned 3 All-Star nods, 2 Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year awards, and of course, the World Series ring in 2020. Jansen holds a career 16.3WAR, 33-22 W-L, 312SV, 2.39ERA/2.29FIP, 936K-168BB over 636IP. Jansen has been one of, if not the most dominant and consistent closer of the last decade.
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