It's just about the midway point in baseball's marathon season and it's time to reflect on the first 80 or so games of 2014 and cast some predictions for how the rest will shape up.
I'll round out every division in baseball as well as the MVP and Cy Young races in either league. Today, one of the divisions I'll look at is the National League West.
Here's how they will finish...
1) Los Angeles Dodgers
Here come the Dodgers. The Giants made headlines after opening up a rather large lead in the NL West. But, like last year, the Dodgers are slicing into that lead around the middle of the season. Entering Sunday, LA finds itself just a game back (two in the loss column) from a struggling San Francisco team. And I think the Dodgers eventually pull away to win this division by at least a few games.
This roster is just far too strong. The Dodgers took their lumps early with the injury to Kershaw. He's back, and better than ever. And LA is poised to make a run at the World Series, which I think it ultimately will.
2) San Francisco Giants
The Dodgers' roster is incredibly impressive, but the Giants are just about as complete a ball club, without the star power. The Giants have a starting rotation that goes five deep and a shutdown bullpen. And the offense produces just about everywhere - save second base, where San Francisco will be looking to add at the deadline.
The key is whether the Giants can develop a clear hierarchy in the starting rotation after Madison Bumgarner. All four of the guys in the rotation have done it at some point in their careers, but there are serious questions about each at the moment. Will Matt Cain figure it out? Can Tim Lincecum consistently go back to being an ace? And can Tim Hudson stay healthy? I'm not sure who the clear number two is right now. My feeling is that it has to be Cain, but he just hasn't come around yet this season. I still believe in Cain, who has been a bit of a victim to bad luck so far this season. Hopefully his season can turn for the Giants.
3) Arizona Diamondbacks
I really liked the Diamondbacks in the preseason. Then Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez went down for the entire season and the D'Backs stumbled for a few weeks out of the gates. The good news is that this team has held it together to pretty much play .500 ball from there. And I think they can sustain that pace. Arizona will fend off Colorado and San Diego to finish smack dab in the middle of the West.
4) Colorado Rockies
Far more talented than Arizona. Not sure if they will be healthy enough to do it over the last 80 - or so - games. Nolan Arenado is on his way back, which is good news in Colorado. But a wildcard berth is just too far out of reach.
5) San Diego Padres
The Padres stink.