2011 National League West Preview

MLB Divisional Previews – 2011 NL West

The west truly was wild last year as the race for the NL West champion came down to the last day of the season.  The NL West is home of the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants (the Dodger fan in me just died a little bit writing that), a ton of players who will no doubt be at the 2011 MLB All Star Game, and some uber talented rookies who are waiting to see the spotlight shine on them.

The Giants are no doubt the favorites, coming off of their World Series win, but the division won’t just be handed to them.  The Rockies and Padres should all be able to make aggressive runs at an NL West Division title in 2011, and the Dodgers and D’Backs will look to return to the winning ways that escaped them a bit last year.  Before we get into a team by team preview, here’s a look at how things shook out last year.

2010 NL West Final Standings
Team Win Loss
Giants 92 70
Padres 90 72
Rockies 83 79
Dodgers 80 82
D’Backs 65 97

2011 San Francisco Giants Preview

2011 S.F. Giants Projected Starters
Position Name
SP1 T. Lincecum
SP2 M. Cain
SP3 J. Sanchez
SP4 M. Bumgarner
SP5 B. Zito
Catcher B. Posey
First Base A. Huff
Second Base F. Sanchez
Third Base P. Sandoval
Shortstop M. Tejada
Left Field M. DeRosa
Center Field A. Torres
Right Field C. Ross

The season following a World Series victory is never an easy one, but the 2011 Giants will have probably the smoothest transition of any past W.S. champ.  They of course return their Rookie of the Year catcher, added experience up the middle with Tejada at SS, and their pitching rotation is as solid as ever with Lincecum and Cain as a deadly 1-2 punch.  They should be exciting to watch this year as they defend their title, so head on out to AT&T Park to catch the action.

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2011 San Diego Padres Preview

2011 S.D. Padres Projected Starters
Position Name
SP1 M. Latos
SP2 C. Richard
SP3 T. Stauffer
SP4 C. Luebke
SP5 W. LeBlanc
Catcher N. Hundley
First Base B. Hawpe
Second Base O. Hudson
Third Base C. Headley
Shortstop J. Bartlett
Left Field R. Ludwick
Center Field C. Maybin
Right Field W. Venable

The Padres finished just a couple games out of first place in the National League West last year and really think that they have the pieces to put them over the top in 2011.  Matt Latos leads a pitching rotation that is lacking in household names, but should get the job done effectively – especially in that huge park of theirs.  Jason Bartlett and O. Hudson are new to San Diego up the middle, but should provide solid defense and quality leadership.  Cameron Maybin is the superstar in Center Field, but will be flanked by solid vets in Ludwick and Venable.  Not sure if they have quite enough to compete with the Giants for the 2011 NL West crown or not, but don’t be surprised if it comes down to the last game of the season again.  As long as the NL West doesn’t beat each other up too badly, they might have a good enough record for a Wildcard spot – although I wouldn’t bank on it. Head on down to Petco Park this year and watch the Padres make their run at NL West dominance.

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2011 Colorado Rockies Preview

2011 Col Rockies Projected Starters
Position Name
SP1 U. Jimenez
SP2 J. De La Rosa
SP3 A. Cook
SP4 J. Chacin
SP5 J. Hammel
Catcher C. Iannetta
First Base T. Helton
Second Base E. Young
Third Base I. Stewart
Shortstop T. Tulowitzki
Left Field C. Gonzales
Center Field D. Fowler
Right Field S. Smith

The Rockies, per usual, got hot near the end of last year and almost made a legit run at the post-season.  2011, however will see them facing some stiffer competition from the NL West than in years past which means that the Rockies cannot fall into a big hole and expect to dig themselves out of it.  If Ubaldo Jiminez can repeat what he did in the first half of last year and if Jorge De La Rosa can return to 2009 form, they will have one of the better rotations in the National League West and possibly the league.  But Coors field is no place for a pitcher which is why the Rockies have some big offensive guys to keep an eye on in 2011 as well.  Tulo and Carlos Gonzales will provide a ton of offense for the Rockies this year which is all the reason you need to catch a few games at Coors Field in 2011.

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2011 Los Angeles Dodgers Preview

2011 LA Dodgers Projected Starters
Position Name
SP1 C. Kershaw
SP2 C. Billingsley
SP3 T. Lilly
SP4 H. Kuroda
SP5 J. Garland
Catcher R. Barajas
First Base J. Loney
Second Base J. Uribe
Third Base C. Blake
Shortstop R. Furcal
Left Field M. Thames
Center Field M. Kemp
Right Field A. Ethier

To say that the Dodgers were a disappointment last year was an understatement.  They dealt with the Manny situation, struggled throwing strikes, went into offensive slumps and stunk up the base paths.  This offseason, GM Ned Colletti spoke personally with the LA Dodgers’ young stars and demanded more of them, namely Matt Kemp.  There are some bright spots, however, for this team that finished two games under .500 a year ago.  The pitching rotation, for one, will be led by Clayton Kershaw, a young lefty with powerful stuff.  Billingsley was wild and unpredictable last year, but should improve with added motivation.  First year manager, Don Mattingly will have some rotation decisions to make in the outfield with Thames, Gibbons, and Gwynn, but expect Ethier and Kemp to play 150 games each and bring some uniformity to the Dodgers OF.  2011 sees the Dodgers old in a few key positions, with Casey Blake getting up in years at 3B and Furcal showing signs of aging at shortstop.  The Dodgers werent active enough in the free agent market this year to make a noticeable run at the NL West, but Colletti is showing confidence in his young core that they can continue to improve and that they are the foundation of the Dodgers future.  Even if the Dodgers are losing, Chavez Ravine is a gorgeous place to watch baseball, so pick up your tickets and cheer on the Dodgers.

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2011 Arizona Diamondbacks Preview

2011 AZ Diamondbacks Projected Starters
Position Name
SP1 J. Saunders
SP2 D. Hudson
SP3 I. Kennedy
SP4 B. Enright
SP5 Z. Duke
Catcher M. Montero
First Base J. Miranda
Second Base K. Johnson
Third Base M. Mora
Shortstop S. Drew
Left Field X. Nady
Center Field C. Young
Right Field J. Upton

The Diamondbacks finished at the bottom of the NL West last year, and based on what we are seeing in 2011, they will again be looking up at a lot of teams when the season ends.  They made some changes by picking up Xavier Nady to fill an outfield role and Melvin Mora to play third base.  They aren’t great offensive production guys, but they provide solid defense and won’t kill you at the plate.  The starting pitching is probably the biggest concern of the Diamondbacks in 2011 as they really have no notable names in the rotation aside from Zach Duke who is projected to be their #5 starter.  The 2011 D’Backs have some good young talent in Chris Young and Justin Upton, but the rest of the pieces are not in place, meaning it will be a long year for new manager Kirk Gibson.  Either way, during the summer, the roof will be closed on Chase Field, making it a cool, comfortable place to watch some baseball. Pick up your tickets for the 2011 Diamondbacks season today.

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The Rest of Our 2011 MLB Previews


About Aaron Garcia

Aaron is an avid sports fan who passionately follows the NFL, NBA and MLB, in addition to NCAA Sports. He is an Arizona State University grad who loves the Dodgers and the Patriots.