MLB – NL West 2022 Preview, Predictions, Betting Picks: Dodgers Hard To Avoid

Freddie FreemanSometimes in life, the rich get richer and that seems to be the case for the NL West as we enter into the 2022 season. While many teams went into the shortened offseason at lightning pace, it didn’t take long for the Los Angeles Dodgers to get their man. But around the West, the rest of the division also took account of free agency and trades to help bolster what already projected as one of the top divisions in baseball. Los Angeles seems to have the West in a stranglehold but after what we saw last year with the San Francisco Giants, is the division truly theirs to lose?

Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers…Really?

  • +450 to Win World Series
  • +200 to Win National League
  • -250 to Win NL West

Back when the New York Yankees were winning so many titles in the 90s and early 2000s, many accused the team of ‘buying’ championships. Meaning, that the Yankees were spending so much money to acquire the top players that no other team realistically stood a chance. The Yankees were simply willing and had the ability to offer players more money and a better contract than around the league. Well, if the Yankees were buying championships back then, then the Dodgers are taking that one step up. Look up and down their lineup. There are almost no holes and with the DH in the National League this season, LA projects to be even more deadly with the bats then they were in their 106-win 2021 season.

This is namely due to the blockbuster acquisition of former Atlanta Braves’ cornerstone, Freddie Freeman. If you thought the Dodgers were good last year, let’s just say 110 wins isn’t out of the question with the team they’ve assembled. And it’s not just on offense. Their pitching is rock solid too, both among the starting five and in the bullpen. So much so it is almost unfair how good the Dodgers really are. They say money can’t buy happiness but the Dodgers are certainly hoping that it can at least buy rings.

Fluke or Reality: What to Make of the San Francisco Giants

  • +2000 to Win World Series
  • +1000 to Win National League
  • +550 to Win NL West

We’re going to spend a lot of time talking about the Dodgers in this preview, so bear with me. Entering into the 2021 season, LA was favored to win yet another consecutive NL West crown. And again, it wasn’t even looking particularly close. In fact, the Dodgers’ biggest competitor was expected to be the San Diego Padres, who opted to improve their pitching as LA improved their bats. No one and I mean no one, inside or outside of the Bay Area, could have dreamed that the Dodgers would face competition elsewhere. In fact, not only did they face competition, they actually lost the division for the first time since 2012. And they lost to the biggest surprise story of the year, the Giants. San Francisco played better than they really had any right to. On paper, their lineup looked good not great, and yet, this was the team that won an MLB-high 107 games last year. The Giants were good when no one expected them to be good but, can that carry over into this year? Or was San Fran’s miracle season merely that? One could argue the Cinderella story is up as the Giants lost some key pieces including Kris Bryant, Buster Posey, Kevin Gausman, and Donovan Solano. Everyone is sleeping on this team yet again given the production they lost in the offseason but it’s true what they say, never wake a sleeping Giant.

With No Tatis Until June, Can the Padres Stay Competitive in Tough Division?

  • +1500 to Win World Series
  • +650 to Win National League
  • +350 to Win NL West

The Padres were expected to compete with and possibly even dethrone the Dodgers last year. It didn’t happen. And there is no reason to believe the team will be able to do so this year either. Unlike in 2021 however, the team’s expectations are lower after a disappointing season that exposed some series holes. Without Fernando Tatis Jr., who missed part of last season with injury and is expected to be out this season until at least June, the Padres are a much different team. Tatis is the glue that holds this all together and as good as Manny Machado is, it is the combination of the two offensive stars that is what San Diego was banking on. Sure, they have great pitching, expected to even improve with the healthy return of Mike Clevinger, but it is hard to put a lot of faith into a team that bombed so spectacularly hard in the second half of the 2021 season. Again, this coincided with Tatis’ injury, which truly hampered any playoff hopes and NL West title hopes the Padres had. 2022 is a new season and Tatis is still one of the best players in the game. If the Padres can tread water until he returns, the team has a shot to make a San Diego sized splash in route to the playoffs.

Nothing to See Here: The Rockies and Diamondbacks

Much like the NL East, the NL West is a three-team division. Sure, the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks do in fact still exist, but no one is expecting them to do anything of note as both clubs continue their rebuilds. That all being said, the Rockies did make one of the bigger, and more surprising moves of the offseason, bringing in Kris Bryant to replace former franchise star Trevor Story. Bryant is inked to a seven-year deal, which Colorado hopes can coincide with their re-emergence as a top team in baseball. But beyond the all-star third baseman, the team still has a ways to go.

As for Arizona, a second 100 loss season isn’t out of the question. The team is one of the younger groups in MLB, looking toward the future with four of baseball’s top 100 prospects and three who are in the top 25 waiting in their pipeline. It wouldn’t be surprising to see some or all of those guys show up in 2022. There is not much to look forward to in Arizona this year and I’d caution Diamondbacks fans to look away when the Dodgers come to town and treat Arizona like the animals in its desert, predators feeding on the carcasses of their prey.

Final Pick

The NL West is intriguing in the same way it was last year. Only this time, the Giants have firmly entered the conversation. The team suffered some personnel losses and the Padres still need to show that last season was a fluke and the team is not in fact all hype. But until they do, it’s the Dodgers.

Freddie Freeman, come on. This team is stacked and could well set an MLB record for wins, especially given they’ll be able to feast on the Rockies and Diamondbacks for over 30 games total. That said, there is no money to be had with a bet on the Dodgers so if you want to ride the underdog, go with the Padres to be a big surprise.