The games are underway and the predictions are flying in. The consensus around baseball is the Dodgers will be among the MLB’s five or six elite teams. But just how elite?
Los Angeles sits at an over/under of 94.5 wins, which is the second highest in baseball (Cubs, 95.5). Buster Olney did an over/under round table with Karl Ravech and Justin Havens on his Baseball Tonight podcast. While Ravech and Havens liked the over, ESPN’s primary baseball guru said he’s going with the under.
“I would go the under on the Dodgers,” Olney said. “And I’m going to pick the Dodgers to win the division. But Karl, you referenced the Rockies – Coors Field is going to be the place no one wants to play … I also think the Diamondbacks are going to be better … I don’t think they’re going to make the playoffs, but I think it’s going to be harder for the Dodgers to get 95, 96 wins. So, they’re a really good team, I think they’re going to win the division, but I would take the under on 94.5.”
Olney has sound logic. The Rockies are a popular sleeper pick, and even if that doesn’t come to fruition, the team is going to be a tough match-up. Arizona justifiably cleaned house, and after a season where everything went wrong, it’s easy to imagine a much better Diamondbacks team. Olney didn’t even mention the Giants, who added Mark Melancon to mitigate their ninth inning woes.
The NL West should be much more competitive than a year ago, at least in the fight for second, third and fourth. It’s a “fun” division with plenty of star power, rivalries, diverse ballpark dynamics and four teams who could conceivably play meaningful baseball in September.
NL West per @LVSuperBook MLB season win totals
Padres 67.5 pic.twitter.com/ksBZdhJhYc
— Covers (@Covers) February 22, 2017
The 94.5 number is high for L.A., but factor in the organization just clawed out 91 wins despite record-setting disabled list numbers. It brings back the same team, but with a (presumable) full-season of Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw. Plus Logan Forsythe, who is an upgrade over anyone they had at second or lead-off in 2016.
Injuries will happen, but unless the Dodgers truly angered the baseball gods, 2017 won’t mimic last season’s disaster.
Los Angeles is the heavy on-paper favorite in the West. But that’s why they play the games.