September 22, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants (L-R) right fielder Hunter Pence, center fielder Angel Pagan, left fielder Gregor Blanco, and second baseman Marco Scutaro celebrate after clinching the title of National League West Champions at AT

Richie Smith's 2013 National League West Predicitions

The NL West is always competitive and seemingly up for grabs year after year. The difference on any given night between the Dbacks, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres and Giants seems minimal at most. I truly believe any one of the five clubs has a chance to win the division. With that said, let’s take a look at my predictions for the 2013 NL West standings.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

2012: 81-81, 3rd in NL West
2013 Prediction: 89-73, 1st in NL West
Big news out of Arizona this off-season was the trade of All-Star outfielder Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves. While obviously losing a bat like Upton could present some big shoes to fill, I actually think the Dbacks will be OK. In fact, their offense was pretty good last year, in spite of just a mediocre year from Upton. Their bullpen really cost them a ton of games and if wasn’t for that, I think they would have made the playoffs as one of the two wild card teams. The Dbacks lineup is really solid up and down, with some veterans mixed with young talent. I think the Cody Ross pick up was an underrated move. Prado will make an immediate impact coming over from the Braves. I think they’ll probably need to make a trade for another starting pitcher sometime during the season if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs. They are not the most talented team in the division, but if Ian Kennedy can return to his Cy Young form of 2011 and the bullpen can keep it together, I think this team wins the division.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
2012: 86-76, 2nd in NL West
2013 Prediction: 87-75 2nd in NL West
There’s something to be said for team chemistry. And while talent is talent, I don’t see this team gelling right away. Sure, a lineup with Andre Either, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Hanley Ramirez is potentially daunting for any pitcher. But we’ve seen just because you throw a bunch of studs together into a lineup, it doesn’t automatically lead to instant success. Just ask their fellow LA counterparts down Interstate 5. I love the Dodgers pitching rotation, of course led by Clayton Kershaw, and I think if they are going to make the playoffs, it will be because of their pitching, not because they will out-hit everyone. Closer Brandon League was a good pick up to man the back end of the bullpen. I think the Dodgers will still be a good team after a slow start, and grab one of the wild card spots in the NL.
San Francisco Giants:
2012: 94-68, 1st in NL West
2013 Prediction: 82-80, 3rd in NL West
Just like in 2010, everything went right for the Giants in 2012.  We rarely see repeat division winners in the NL West and I don’t think 2013 will be an exception. I think the Giants come back down to earth in 2013, as it surprised everyone that they won 94 games last year.  Buster Poser is the best player in the division, in my opinion, but I don’t think this team has enough offense to compete for a division title. The Giants will always lean on good pitching and timely hitting, but I think they will have to score more runs to hang with the likes of the Dbacks and Dodgers. This team could easily still make the playoffs, especially given their above average pitching staff and experience coming off two World Series titles in three years, but I see the Giants coming back to the middle of the pack in the NL West in 2013.
San Diego Padres:
2012:76-86, 4th in NL West
2013 Prediction: 78-84, 4th in NL West
I do think this team has a lot of young talent and potential, and can compete for the division title in 2014, but I think they’re a year away.  It’s been well-documented already, but they did basically nothing to improve the ball club this off-season. The back end of the rotation is still a major question mark and I think the Grandal suspension for the first 50 games hurts them more than people think. I love the idea of a line up which includes Headley, Gyorko, Alonso, Maybin and Grandal; that’s a young nucleus of players that you can really build a winner around. But until some of the young arms like Joe Wieland,  Cory Luebke, and Andrew Cashner get healthy, and others like Casey Kelly and Robbie Erlin become consistent major league starters, I think realistically think the ceiling on this team is .500 in 2013.
Colorado Rockies:
2012: 64-98
2013 Prediction: 70-92
Most experts thought this team was going to compete for the division last year. They were way off. Aside from the two super stars, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, there is really not much to look forward to this season in Colorado. Todd Helton is on the verge of retirement and Michael Cuddyer is on the wrong side of 30. The Rockies will always find ways to score runs, partly because of the friendly confines of Coors Field, but who is going to pitch for this team? The starting rotation is looking very suspect. Drew Pomeranz, one of the players the Rockies got in return from the Ubaldo Jimenez trade to the Indians, should be a nice addition to the rotation, but other than that, I’m not too confident. It could be a long season for the Rockies in 2013.
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