The National League West division was full of intense battles in 2021, and had two of the best teams in MLB: the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants.
The San Diego Padres, a bitter disappointment this year, should be a lot better in 2022, fighting with the Giants and Dodgers for the division crown.
Here are the projected standings as things stand right now.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are perhaps the premier organization in MLB.
They may not have made it all the way to the World Series this time, but they remain a very dangerous team with lots of young pieces in their prime: Mookie Betts, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, the recovering Dustin May, Max Muncy, Will Smith, Cody Bellinger, and many more.
Yes, they will lose a lot of good players to free agency, but they have two things working in their favor: a phenomenal player development staff, and money to sign free agents.
But they have the resources to re-sign most of them and bring replacements for the others.
They are the early favorites to take the division in 2022.
2. San Diego Padres
Perhaps the Padres’ year was 2022, not 2021.
They badly underperformed this year and were perhaps the most disappointing team in the league.
The most disappointing #Padres season in a long time is over
We can only hope for better in 2022
— James E. Clark 3 (@EVT_JClark) October 3, 2021
But San Diego will try to leave it all behind and focus on next year.
And, of course, they will welcome back the returning Mike Clevinger, who rehabbed from Tommy John surgery, with open arms.
3. San Francisco Giants
The Giants were the best team in the regular season, with 107 victories.
They managed to resurrect several careers en route to a fantastic year: Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Darin Ruf, LaMonte Wade Jr., Anthony DeSclafani, and Alex Wood are some of the players who took a step forward in performance during the 2021 campaign with the Giants.
While the Giants won’t collapse, it’s hard to see them replicating that success in 2022.
They have too many pending free agents and it’s fair to question whether they can bring them all back or not.
Buster Posey will retire pretty close to his peak as a player. He hit .304 with 18 homers and a .889 OPS in 2021, caught 106 games and was worth 4.9 WAR, the highest of any MLB catcher. A remarkable final season.
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) November 3, 2021
The Giants should still fight for the playoffs, but the division crown and the best team in the league distinction are looking unlikely.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
If they keep Ketel Marte and the young guys keep developing, the Arizona Diamondbacks should be better than the Colorado Rockies.
The D-Backs also have some good prospects coming to the majors soon.
It’s very, very hard to see a path toward a finish higher than fourth, but Arizona should be better than they were in 2021.
5. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies aren’t well run, aren’t built to contend right now, and the future isn’t more promising.
To make matters worse, they will lose their best player, Trevor Story, to free agency.
There is always a chance he returns, but it’s very slim.
Additionally, pitcher Jon Gray is also a free agent and has already rejected some advances by the Rockies.
CJ Cron is a free agent, too.
The Rockies will compete with the D-Backs for fourth place, and may end up on the losing end of the battle.