It might not be the best division top to bottom in baseball. But there will be no more fascinating race than the National League West, which essentially is a social experiment: What happens when a big-market team utterly abandons any notion of a budget? Can you turn a decent team into a winner through the sheer, overwhelming power of money?
The Los Angeles Dodgers will try with the highest payroll ($223 million) in baseball history. They spent last summer and offseason taking on high-profile contracts -- Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford. Then they went and added the best pitcher on the open marker, Zack Greinke. We've seen moves like this implode before. But the Dodgers also had some key pieces already in place with MVP candidate Matt Kemp and Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw. Can these players all blend together?
The Dodgers' archrivals, the San Francisco Giants, are coming off a second World Series title in three years. But they didn't go overboard financially, so it's basically the same team returning. Will their strong rotation be enough to hold off Los Angeles?
Meanwhile, they both should feast on the rest of the division. Colorado has some nice position players but little depth and a disaster of a rotation. San Diego is in the midst of a painful rebuild and, while progressing, has a ways to go. Arizona is the one team that could go either way after offseason trades of star outfielder Justin Upton to Atlanta and top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer to Cleveland. The Diamondbacks were a .500 team last year, after all. It won't be nearly enough.
- Brian McNally