The San Francisco Giants have been to the playoffs four times since 2010. Three of those times have resulted in World Series championships. It’s obvious that the Giants feel confident in their chances of winning the World Series if they get to the playoffs. The problem is getting to the postseason, especially with how good the NL West is now.
All three World Series championships for the Giants in 2010, 2012, 2014 came from great pitching and great defense. The job that Madison Bumgarner has done in the postseason, especially the elimination games, makes him one of the best, if not, the best, postseason pitcher of all time. Three championships in five years is a dynasty, as the Giants feel like they have a chance to win it all if they get to the postseason. The key part is to make it to the postseason.
Being in the National League West, the Giants chances of making the postseason have become much harder than before. Since 2010, the Giants have won the NL West twice: 2010 and 2012. They have also made the Wild Card game twice since 2010. Now, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies have become relevant, and for some reason, the San Diego Padres give the Giants a tough time.
Expectations will be very high for the National League West, but don’t expect the 2018 season to be like the 2017 season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers won 104 games, mostly due to their multiple winning streaks of nearly ten games, the terrible play of the Giants, and the unexpected Rookie of the Year, Cody Bellinger. He was able to energize the lineup, ending up with 39 home runs for the season. They have a lot of great regular season players, including Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner, and Corey Seager.
Cody Bellinger was unbelievable, but finishing at .267 and 39 home runs, it is worrisome watching Bellinger and that there are no adjustments as at-bats deepen. Pitchers and other organizations adjust. Don’t throw a first pitch fastball on the inside so he can hit it 430 feet. Live on the outside corner and get him to be frustrated. This is what the Houston Astros did to Bellinger in the World Series, and why he only hit .219 the entire postseason. The Dodgers have to be careful that Bellinger doesn’t turn into Joc Pederson, focusing on home runs and not getting better.
Bellinger is 22. Chris Taylor is 27 who came out of nowhere to become a feared hitter at the top of the lineup, but the question of him doing .288, 20+ homers, and 70+ RBIs again remains to be seen, especially with such a small sample size. Yasiel Puig showed his great potential, but his continuing act of not being mentally tough is hurting not just him, but the organization of the Los Angeles Dodgers as well.
As far as pitching goes, Clayton Kershaw is the best regular season pitcher, and he did pitch a little better in the postseason, but he is still not pitching good at all in the postseason. Even in the games the Dodgers won, Kershaw is not pitching deep into games and still giving up four runs a game. Yu Darvish might not be back, as he will test free agency. Banking on Alex Wood to have another year where he has an ERA of less than 3.00, 16 wins, and a WHIP that was 1.06 is not something the Dodgers want to do.
The Dodgers will probably go out to free agency and get better and will, like always, be at the top of the NL West because they are a regular season team, but they are just not made to win it all, as the roster sits. Because they had not been in the World Series since 1988 and lasting all the way to Game 7 of the World Series, only to lose, expect the Dodgers to be tired and have a World Series hangover like the Cubs did this past year.
What the Arizona Diamondbacks did from 2016 to 2017 is remarkable. In 2016, Arizona finished 69-93. In 2017, they finished 93-69, resulting in the NL Coach of the Year for Torey Lovullo. They won 93 games this past year, only to get a Wild Card game because of how great the Dodgers were during the regular season. Beating the Colorado Rockies was a great accomplishment in the Wild Card, but getting swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS was not what the organization was expecting.
They have one of the best players in all of baseball in first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt. Averaging an almost .300 average, 25 home runs, and 90 runs, and 90 RBIs for his career, the Diamondbacks were finally able to get some production and help around their best player. Their third baseman, Jake Lamb, recently turned 27 and is on track to be able to hit 30+ homers and 100+ RBIs per season.
Utility player, Brandon Drury, has found a position at second and at only 25 years old, Drury figures to be a great, future piece for Arizona. Shortstop Ketel Marte is only 24 years old, but seems to only give his glove and a .260 average. Arizona needs outfielder, A.J. Pollock, to stay healthy because he is a five-tool player who changes the dynamic of this lineup.
The question remains, what more can they do? The front office needs to find a way to keep outfielder, J.D. Martinez. He is a free agent and was a huge part in getting the Diamondbacks to the Wild Card game and beyond. If for some reason Arizona is unable to sign back Martinez, then the starting rotation could use a boost. Zack Greinke is a great number one pitcher, and the other four pitchers in Ray, Corbin, Godley, and Walker are very young and promising, but the sample size is small. When it comes to the playoffs, Greinke is good, but who will be the Game 2 starter who has to go up against the second ace for the other team?
The Colorado Rockies are an intriguing team because they are like the Houston Astros in having multiple hitters who can change the score with one swing, but they don’t have front-line pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander. Instead, they have Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland.
Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are a great left field of the infield, and with Gold Glover, DJ LeMathieu, at second, the Rockies are in good hands. The Rockies will need to figure out what to do with right fielder, Carlos Gonzalez, who may not return to the team because of free agency. Center fielder Charlie Blackmon continues to be one of the best center fielders in the game.
The Rockies can get to the playoffs with the amount of bats that they have, but making a postseason run will be hard without a front-line pitcher.
San Diego Padres
What exactly are the San Diego Padres doing? First baseman, Wil Myers, is their best player and gets paid like it with an 83 million contract. The Padres have a roster of hitters that seem to all be under the age of 30. Clayton Richard is the number one pitcher and that is a problem, with him only achieving eight wins last year.
It will be very hard for the Padres to contend in an NL West that features two playoff teams in the Diamondbacks and Rockies, with the Giants being a couple of signings away from being a serious contender. Though this is the case, their opening day payroll for last season was only about 70 million.
San Francisco Giants
Now comes the team that has won championships in 2010, 2012, and 2014, yet lose 98 games in 2017. Baseball is a funny game as the Giants were able to use 2017 to look at their farm system, assess what they have, and get rid of those who can’t perform to Giants standards.
The starting rotation is entering the 2018 season with frustration, wanting to do much better than last year after pitching bad and suffering injuries along the way. Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, two of the best pitchers for the Giants who suffered through injuries last year, will look to have huge bounce-back years for the San Francisco Giants.
Buster Posey continues to be the most consistent, best catcher in all of baseball, as the front office will look to surround him with supreme talent to get as many rings as they can while Posey is still playing. Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford are one of the best middle infield duos in all of baseball. Brandon Belt needs to get better, as Giants fans and ownership are starting to show frustration in the first baseman.
The biggest concern is the outfield, as Denard Span has a lot of mileage at 33 years old, Jarrett Parker just hasn’t become the player the Giants had hoped, and Hunter Pence is starting to look like a platoon player. The Giants are able to put Span in left and hope he stays healthy, but they need Giancarlo Stanton, Lorenzo Cain, and J.D. Martinez to be at AT&T Park, and that just won’t happen. Giants fans can only hope that they can get one or two of them, however.
The NL West has resurged itself to be one of the best divisions in baseball, as the San Francisco Giants will look to sign a couple of players through free agency to get back to the playoffs and make a run.
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