The Post’s Mark W. Sanchez previews NL West
1.Los Angeles Dodgers
O/U wins: 97.5
key players: Mookie Betts. For the Dodgers to be historically great — which is a real possibility — they could use their $365 million man at his best. The right fielder was only very good (.854 OPS) last season, but not great, and the lineup is even more ridiculous with the addition of Freddie Freeman.
Player who needs to be promoted: Andrew Heney. The Yankees couldn’t fix him, and now the Dodgers will try while relying on peripherals that signal he’s better than his results showed. He’ll be in a stacked rotation behind Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Clayton Kershaw and maybe Tony Gonsolin.
Name you will meet: Bobby Miller. The Dodgers both spend more and perform better than almost any team, and their 2020 first-round pick throws a triple-digit Heat that pairs well with a nasty slider. If their rotation is dealing with injuries, they should have internal solutions.
Biggest question mark: Trevor Bauer. There are all sorts of questions surrounding Cody Bellinger, whose racquet has disappeared since his 2019 MVP season, but there’s no greater unknown than the ace who signed Los Angeles to a $102 million pact a year ago. The 2020 Cy Young winner is on administrative leave as MLB investigates sexual assault allegations. LA prosecutors decided not to indict Bauer, who has two years and $64 million left on the contract.
How it goes on: Early last season there were predictions that the Dodgers could be the strongest team in baseball history. This year they’ve added Freeman and Craig Kimbrel, largely returning the same core. A 106-win team has gotten better and should overtake the Giants.
2. San Francisco Giants
O/U wins: 85.5
key players: Gab Kapler. No team asked more of their manager last season, making Kapler NL Manager of the Year. The Giants led the majors in potholes, relied on draw advantage and essentially used line shifts — one lineup against righties, one against lefties — to stun their way to the division title. Can Kapler, who is largely returning the same squad, push all the right buttons again?
Player who needs to be promoted: Joe Bart. The biggest hole comes in the most critical spot after seven-time All-Star Buster Posey’s surprise retirement. Bart, the 2018 draft pick long considered Posey’s heir, has lost some of his luster after a tough debut in 2020 (41 strikeouts in 103 at-bats).
Name you will meet: sean hell There is no greater for the Giants, and we mean that literally. When the starting contender debuts, he will tie Jon Rauch at 6ft 11 as the tallest player in major league history. Hjelle, a bean, advanced to triple-A last season.
Biggest question mark: Start with pitching health. Behind Logan Webb is a lineup of high upside starters with significant risk. Carlos Rodon is the new No. 2 after a big fade in the second half of last year. Behind the duo are Anthony DeSclafani, who was great against everyone but the Dodgers last season, and Alex Wood and Alex Cobb, who have long injury histories.
How it goes on: can they do it again A season after a franchise-record 107 wins — and they needed every one of them — can the Mixing and Matching continue to rival one of the most talented teams in baseball history? Probably not, but don’t tell Brandon Crawford & Co. that.
3. San Diego Padres
O/U wins: 90.5
key players: Manny Machado. Without Fernando Tatis Jr. for possibly the next three months after wrist surgery, San Diego could use more attack from his pal on the left side of infield. Machado may not be the face of the team, but he’s been consistent and excellent in three seasons since signing.
Player who needs to be promoted: Blake Snell and the aces that didn’t look like aces. Snell, who is now four years away from his AL Cy Young and entering his second season with the Padres, was quite normal last year. Chris Paddack was worse than usual, Yu Darvish faded the track and injuries limited Dinelson Lamet to nine starts and Mike Clevinger, who had undergone Tommy John surgery, to zero. Sean Manaea will help, but will any fallen star join Joe Musgrove at the head of the rotation?
Name you will meet: CJ Abrams. Tatis’ injury could open the door for bats for the 21-year-old, the Padres’ top pick and one of the best in the game.
Biggest question mark: Along with the boom-or-bust rotation, can San Diego get more out of Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers’ contractual weightings? Both are coming off the off-season and time may be running out if San Diego can find the right trading partner.
How it goes on: Bob Melvin is tasked with doing what Jayce Tingler couldn’t: maximize talent. However, there are still depth issues that could prevent them from staying at the top of the division.
4. Colorado Rockies
O/U wins: 68.5
key players: Chris Bryant. The Rockies traded Nolan Arenado and ran Trevor Story only to dump $182 million at Bryant, who immediately became the face of the team. The 2016 MVP would need to have a rebound season while playing at left field and get plenty of help to keep Colorado competitive.
Player who needs to be promoted: Antonio Senzatela. The pitching and razor-thin Rockies have few sure things in the rotation behind German Marquez. A control artist with a new $50.5 million deal, Senzatela had a great 2020 (3.44 ERA) but took a step back last season. The Rockies would love it if he became a legitimate No. 2.
Name you will meet: Elehuris Montero. The 23-year-old corner-infield prospect, who is a big part of the Arenado trade, hit 28 homers between double- and triple-A’s last season and was set to make his debut this year.
Biggest question mark: There are many, but it’s the same concern you always find in Colorado. The Rockies had the sixth-worst ERA in baseball last season and lost reliable starter Jon Gray this offseason. Who Records Outs?
How it goes on: A lineup that includes Bryant, Charlie Blackmon, Ryan McMahon, CJ Cron, Brendan Rodgers and Randal Grichuk could compete in some divisions. But not this one, and it will be another long season for a team that has finished fourth for three straight years.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
O/U wins: 66.5
key players: Daulton Varsho. There is no other player in baseball who is asked to both catch and man the midfield. The athletic 25-year-old is the face of new-age flexibility – in premium positions – and posted a .290/.349/.530 slash after the All-Star hiatus last season and swung to the top of the line-up.
Player who needs to be promoted: Madison Bumgarner. There are scenarios in which one of baseball’s worst employees is recovering this season — there’s hope in Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly — but Arizona needs more of the big left, who was a bust in two seasons away from San Francisco.
Name you will meet: Alek Thomas has appeared in two All-Star Futures Games and is expected to make his major league debut this season. The lithe swinging outfielder hit .313 with 18 homers in double- and triple-A last season.
Biggest question mark: Arizona recorded the second-worst personal ERA in baseball last season, with the bullpen being a notable anchor. Adding ex-Yankees Mark Melancon and Ian Kennedy wasn’t nearly enough help.
How it goes on: The Diamondbacks lost 110 games last season. They could enjoy a vastly superior year in 2022 and still rack up 100 losses. They did nothing this offseason to promise a turnaround would be quick.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/06/2022-mlb-predictions-dodgers-will-outpace-nl-west-rivals/ Dodgers will outperform NL West rivals