1st Place: Arizona Diamondbacks- The Diamondbacks haven't really lost anything from a team that went 94-68 last year. In fact, if anything, they've improved. They acquired Trevor Cahill (right) and Craig Breslow in a shrewd trade with the A's that will net them a solid reliever in Breslow (0-2/3.79/44 in 2011) and a solid starter in Cahill (12-14/4.16/147 in 2011). I expect Aaron Hill (.246/8/61) and Lyle Overbay (.234/9/47) to have rebound years with a change of scenery. The D-Backs could be among the league's elite without a doubt in 2012.
2nd Place: San Francisco Giants- After winning the World Series in 2010, 2011 was a disappointment for the Giants as they went 86-76 and missed the playoffs. If anything, 2011 just showed that 2010 was a fluke. While they do have fantastic pitching: Tim Lincecum (13-14/2.74/22), Matt Cain (12-11/2.88/179), and Madison Bumgarner (13-13/3.21/191) highlighted the second best rotation in baseball last year, they have no hitting. While they were battered by injuries, Buster Posey (.305/18/67 in 2010) and Freddy Sanchez (.292/7/47 in 2010) will be back for the full year, they just don't have enough offense to compete. The acquired a couple of outfielders in Angel Pagan (.262/7/56) and Melky Cabrera (left) (.305/18/87) but they don't have the offense to compete.
4th Place: Los Angeles Dodgers- Like the Rockies, the Dodgers were a disappointment to many in 2011. However, unlike the Rockies, they haven't done much to improve in the offseason. They do have a strong pitching staff, led by NL Cy Young Award Winner Clayton Kershaw (21-5/2.28/248), Chad Billingsley (11-11/4.21/152), and Ted Lilly (12-14/3.97/158). However, their offense lacks any firepower whatsoever behind Matt Kemp (.324/39/126) and Andre Ethier (.292/11/62). Plus, this offseason, the only real players they acquired were replacement level middle infielders like Mark Ellis (.248/7/41), Adam Kennedy (.234/7/38), and Jerry Hairston Jr. (left)(.270/5/31). In other words, the Dodgers lack the offensive firepower to compete, even in a weak division like the NL West.
5th Place: San Diego Padres- Like all too many teams in this division, the Padres have a stellar pitching staff and a terrible offense. However, they have made a move to fix that, trading Mat Latos to the Reds for gifted first baseman Yonder Alonso (.330/5/15 in 47 games), Edinson Volquez (5-7/5.71/104), and a bucket of prospects. They also netted Carlos Quentin (right) (.254/24/77) in a trade with the White Sox-- however, Petco Park should keep Quentin's undeniable power at bay. The Padres haven't done enough to make them a contender, or even close to one.