Just like last season, teams from the two largest cities in California are expected to feature at the top of the standings. The other three clubs in the division still have some issues to figure out before they can be considered serious contenders, based on recent MLB futures.
2013 Predicted Wins Over/Under: 81.5
“Gibby-ball” is going to get its toughest test yet as manager Kirk Gibson must get along without talented but inconsistent stars Justin Upton and Chris Young. In their place are players like Cody Ross and Jason Kubel who are labelled as “gritty.” Character, however, only gets a team so far. Brandon McCarthy is the only new starting pitcher of note, and Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill are lesser lights in the rotation. Their lack of depth will likely hurt them as the season progresses. Predicted finish: Third in the division, and eighth or ninth in the league.
2013 Predicted Wins Over/Under: 77.5
The Rockies are proof that clubs need more than a couple of studs to make them into winners. Everyone would want to build a team around Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, but it takes more than that to get positive results and post-season appearances. Simply put, they need pitching and they need to start thinking about replacing players like Todd Helton. They’re lousy on the road and not so great at home, either. Predicted finish: Last in the division, and last (or close to it) in the league.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
2013 Predicted Wins Over/Under: 91.5
Ownership’s deep pockets have many thinking that the team can pick up spare parts any time. But they still must deal with a bad injury to Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford’s ongoing health issues, along with an uncertain situation in the bullpen. Despite those issues, they’re still seen by some as the ones to beat because of All-Star Matt Kemp, slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and the awesome starting rotation led by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Predicted finish: Second in the division, and fourth or fifth in the league (so they should grab a wild-card spot).
SAN DIEGO PADRES
2013 Predicted Wins Over/Under: 74.5
No one expects them to do anything, and they will probably battle with Colorado for last place in this strong division. Having said that, they ought to get looser lines from oddsmakers because of their underdog status. Still, they’re going to be a bad team, and they’re off to a bad start already: Chase Headley is injured, Carlos Quentin can’t stay healthy and Yasmani Grandal will miss the first 50 games via suspension. Yonder Alonso is turning into a star at first base, though, and they have plenty of jackrabbits to steal bases. Predicted finish: Fourth in the division, and just above Colorado in the league.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
2013 Predicted Wins Over/Under: 87.5
They won it all in 2010 and 2012. Clutch hitting, solid pitching, excellent defense and great managing have all contributed to that success, and this team is basically unchanged from last year — other than tainted outfielder Melky Cabrera, who signed with Toronto as a free agent. Not to worry: they still have Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval and some of the best pitching north of L.A. They’ll be big time favorites in a lot of situations, but might get some favorable lines when on the road. Predicted finish: First in the division, second in the league.