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Dodgers Dugout: The best first baseman in the NL West is....

Dodgers Dugout: The best first baseman in the NL West is....
Adrian Gonzalez (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, reminding you we are only 11 days from the biggest day of the year: WrestleMania.

Comparing the teams

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Each weekday until conclusion, I am looking at all five NL West teams, comparing them at each position, the rotation and the bullpen. Every team will be ranked at each position, so we can get a better idea of where the Dodgers stand as they try to win their first World Series since the Reagan administration. If you see a stat you don't recognize, such as WAR or FRAA, just click on it and you will be taken to the explainer. All stats are courtesy of baseball-reference.com.

Today, on to first base.

1. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona

Last three seasons: .307 AVG/.416 OB%/.532 SLG%/15.7 Offensive WAR/ -0.4 Defensive WAR

Goldschmidt led the NL in walks last season as a lot of team chose to pitch around him. He is a perennial MVP candidate who excels in almost every category. It seems whenever the Dodgers play Arizona he comes up in a key situation and gets a hit. He has more career homers against the Dodgers (24) than he does against any other team.

2. Brandon Belt, San Francisco

Last three seasons: .272/.365/.471/7.1 OWAR/-0.3 DWAR

Why is Belt ranked second over Adrian Gonzalez? Belt's numbers have trended upward the last three seasons, while Gonzalez's have gone down. First base is probably the toughest one to rank, because after Goldschmidt, the next three are very close. Belt hits line drive after line drive, hit 41 doubles and drew more than 100 walks last season.

3. Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers

Last three seasons: .279/.345/.466/7.2/-0.4

Gonzalez is still the heart of the Dodgers offense and the man they count on to drive in runs. He has had at least 90 RBIs for 10 consecutive seasons, but he is showing signs of slowing down. Perhaps feeling Cody Bellinger breathing down his neck will make his power numbers resurface. I am a big fan of Gonzalez, but I am going to enjoy him while I can because he is closer to the end of his Dodgers career than the beginning.

4. Ian Desmond, Colorado

Last three seasons: .258/.313/.421/1.7/8.8/1.7

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Desmond has played shortstop and center field, so naturally the Rockies gave him a five-year, $70-million deal to play first base. Desmond has never played first base in the majors. Oh, and Desmond has never played first base in the minors. And it's not like his bat is so electric that you can overlook that.

5. Wil Myers, San Diego

Last three seasons: .247/.324/.414/3.9/-2.1

The Padres converted him from the outfield to first base last season. Offensively, Myers is pretty good (he had 28 homers last season), but defensively ... you know that Geico commercial where the sumo wrestler is figure skating? That's how Myers plays first base. I'll give someone $5 to yell, "There it is, the baby bird," to Myers this season.

So that concludes the look at first base. If we assign points based on where a player ranks at each position, giving seven points for first place, five for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth, then the NL West stacks up like this, with many positions left to look at:

Arizona, 7 points

San Francisco, 5 points

Dodgers, 3 points

Colorado, 2 points

San Diego, 1 point

That brings the grand totals after two positions to:

San Francisco, 12 points

Arizona, 9 points

Dodgers, 8 points

Colorado, 5 points

San Diego, 2 point

Ethier update

It looks as if Andre Ethier will miss opening day because of a herniated disk in his back. What does this mean for the Dodgers? It means Andrew Toles will probably begin the season as the starting left fielder instead of starting the season in the minors. He could platoon in left with Franklin Gutierrez. So the outfield will look like:

LF-Toles/Gutierrez

CF-Joc Pederson

RF-Yasiel Puig

That leaves Scott Van Slyke and Trayce Thompson battling for a backup spot or two, depending on whether the Dodgers keep Enrique Hernandez. With Thompson coming off a broken back, the guess here is that he will be sent to the minors so he can get some regular at-bats.

It's another tough break for Ethier, who missed almost all of last season because of a broken leg suffered in spring training. Ethier has long been a fan favorite, and it would be great to have him as part of a team that Sports Illustrated predicts will win the World Series this year.

Manager Dave Roberts had this to say to Times Dodgers reporter Andy McCullough about Ethier playing on opening day: "We're just not trying to put so much emphasis on that. And Andre understands that too. The No. 1 thing is we've got to get him back healthy and feeling good. So whenever that day is, whether it's prior to opening day or it's not, that's our goal."

Ask Ross Porter

Once again, former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter will be answering select reader questions. Email me a question for Ross, and I will pass it on. The answers will begin once the season starts, but send the questions in now!

And finally

The World Baseball Classic fills Dodger Stadium with joyful noise.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.

Twitter: @latimeshouston

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