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Dodgers are frontrunner to win another NL West crown

Dodgers picked to win third consecutive NL West title

WEST DIVISION

1. Dodgers

2014: 94-68, first place. Last year in playoffs: 2014.

Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are two of the three highest-paid players in the majors. Beyond them, the starting rotation of the best-paid team in sports history appears vulnerable. If the Dodgers get Hyun-Jin Ryu and closer Kenley Jansen back in May, they should be in good shape — this is a team that made up a 9 1/2-game deficit in each of the last two seasons. The last team to win the NL West three consecutive years — the Atlanta Braves, 1991-93 — now resides in the NL East.

SS J. Rollins

RF Y. Puig

1B A. Gonzalez

2B H. Kendrick

C Y. Grandal

LF C. Crawford

3B J. Uribe

CF J. Pederson

Starting rotation

LH C. Kershaw

RH Z. Greinke

LH H. Ryu*

RH B. McCarthy

LH B. Anderson

Closer

RH K. Jansen*

2. San Diego Padres

2014: 77-85, third place. Last year in playoffs: 2006.

The Padres' opening-day outfield last year — Tommy Medica, Will Venable and Chris Denorfia — combined to hit 18 home runs — or one more than Matt Kemp hit in the second half. The Padres could be vulnerable to hard-throwing right-handers; every starter but Yonder Alonso and Alexi Amarista bats right-handed. If the Padres do not rank in the NL top 10 in runs scored for the first time since 2007 — Manager Bud Black's first season — this could be Black's last season .

CF W. Myers

1B Y. Alonso

RF M. Kemp

LF J. Upton

3B W. Middlebrooks

2B J. Gyorko

C D. Norris

SS A. Amarista

Rotation

RH J. Shields

RH T. Ross

RH A. Cashner

RH I. Kennedy

RH B. Morrow

Closer

RH J. Benoit

3. Colorado Rockies

2014: 66-96, fourth place. Last year in playoffs: 2009.

You've heard the line: If Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez can just stay healthy … The Rockies' franchise players have never each had 500 at-bats in the same season. In the first two months last season, when both were healthy, the Rockies had a run differential of plus-28. In the next two months, when Gonzalez was injured and then Tulowitzki, the run differential was minus-84. Nolan Arenado is the division's only star third baseman, Corey Dickerson hit 24 home runs last year, and the Rockies just might slug their way into a wild-card race.

CF C. Blackmon

LF C. Dickerson

SS T. Tulowitzki

LF C. Gonzalez

3B N. Arenado

1B J. Morneau

C N. Hundley

2B D. LeMahieu

Rotation

LH J. De La Rosa

RH J. Lyles

LH T. Matzek

RH K. Kendrick

RH C. Bettis

Closer

RH L. Hawkins

4. Arizona Diamondbacks

2014: 64-98, fifth place. Last year in playoffs: 2011.

The Diamondbacks are defiantly old school, run by men with a history of on-field success but little experience in the front office: chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and General Manager Dave Stewart. They spent $68.5 million on Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas — more than the Chicago White Sox spent on star first baseman Jose Abreu — but Tomas did not make the team. Arizona has the best bargain in baseball: Paul Goldschmidt, the top pure hitter in the NL, who would have been eligible for arbitration but for a long-term contract that pays him $3 million this year.

CF A. Pollock

2B C. Owings

1B P. Goldschmidt

LF D. Peralta

RF M. Trumbo

3B J. Lamb

SS N. Ahmed

C T. Gosewich

Rotation

RH J. Collmenter

RH R. De La Rosa

RH J. Hellickson

RH A. Bradley

RH C. Anderson

Closer

RH A. Reed

5. San Francisco Giants

2014: 88-74, second place, World Series champions. Last year in playoffs: 2014.

Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson hit six home runs in the Cactus League. The Giants' projected opening-day lineup hit six combined. That the Giants have no power — even with Hunter Pence due back in a few weeks — would not be damning for a team with good pitching. The Giants have World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner and a bunch of dubious thirty-somethings: Matt Cain (8.22 Cactus League ERA), Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson (last seen routed in the Series) and the long-fading Tim Lincecum.

CF A. Pagan

2B J. Panik

C B. Posey

1B B. Belt

RF H. Pence*

3B C. McGehee

LF N. Aoki

SS B. Crawford

Rotation

LH M. Bumgarner

RH J. Peavy

RH M. Cain

RH T. Hudson

RH T. Lincecum

Closer

RH S. Casilla

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