For all of their struggles both on and off the field during the end of the Frank McCourt era, you might be surprised to learn that the Los Angeles Dodgers have won the National League West in five of the past eight seasons. This includes each of the past three NL West crowns, but the Dodgers have just one playoff series win (and zero pennants) to show for their efforts.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants have made just three playoff appearances in the past decade, but won the World Series in each of those instances. Whether or not the "even year magic" exists for Bruce Bochy and company, their revamped rotation is ready to contend. They and the Arizona Diamondbacks should give the Dodgers -- who aren't as invincible as years past without second ace Zack Greinke -- a serious run for their seemingly endless stacks of money.
And then you have the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies, a pair of smaller market teams that don't have the ample resources available to spend like their division rivals. The gap looms even larger for both clubs in 2016, but especially in Colorado, where the dreaded rebuilding process is in full swing.
Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70 in 2015)
The Dodgers may have lost Zack Greinke to their division rivals, but there is still a boatload of talent to be found in Chavez Ravine. Their offense led the National League in wOBA, and their top 10 performers (in terms of wRC+) will return in 2016. Youngsters Joc Pederson and Corey Seager are a year older, while Yasiel Puig is poised for a bounce back season. Old standbys like Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford will also play key roles.
Oh, and they still have a guy named Clayton Kershaw. Sure, the rotation around the 2015 NL MVP is a big question mark, but top prospects Julio Urias and Jose De Leon are that much closer to adding valuable depth. Add in a bullpen that ranked third in the NL with 4.5 fWAR last year, and it's hard to bet against the three-time champs from winning a fourth consecutive NL West crown in 2016.
San Francisco Giants (84-78 in 2015)
It's an even year, so clearly the Giants are favorites to win it all, right?
Well, you're not far off. The Giants revamped their rotation this offseason, signing Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto to big-money deals. Those two will join Madison Bumgarner to form one of the more underrated starting pitching trios in the National League, hoping to revamp a rotation that ranked 10th in the NL with 7.2 WAR in 2015.
The question is whether they can score enough to keep up with the Dodgers. Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford are both coming off solid years, Hunter Pence is healthy, and Buster Posey is Buster Posey. However, homegrown talents like Joe Panik, Matt Duffy, and Kelby Tomlinson will be counted on to support those four. If they can keep the outfield healthy -- easier said than done with Denard Span and Angel Pagan roaming AT&T Park's expansive confines -- they could find themselves primed for another postseason run.
Arizona Diamondbacks (79-83 in 2015)
No National League team did more to bolster its stock this offseason than the Diamondbacks. Not only did they sign Zack Greinke to a $206.5 million contract, but they also acquired up-and-comer Shelby Miller in a damn-the-torpedoes win-now trade. There is plenty of depth behind those two -- former top prospect Archie Bradley is still lurking -- but who will step up as a legitimate No. 3? The bullpen is also a question mark, especially if Tyler Clippard's fly ball tendencies don't mix with Chase Field's warm atmosphere.
Even if their pitching staff falters, they might still score enough runs to contend. Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock combined for 14 WAR last season, and the D-Backs were second in the National League with 720 runs scored. Breakout players David Peralta and Welington Castillo are still around, while Socrates Brito seems like a safe bet to replace BYB-favorite Ender Inciarte in the outfield. If Yasmany Tomas lives up to his hype, this could be one of the most lethal lineups in baseball.
San Diego Padres (74-88 in 2015)
Remember this time last year? Many pundits looked at the Padres' busy offseason and considered them a dark horse contender in what looked to be a rather top-heavy National League (full disclosure: I was one of them). They even hovered around .500 for a while until a 2-9 skid in late May and early June dropped them 11 games behind the Dodgers. They eventually limped to the finish line, winning just nine of 27 games in September.
Without similar fireworks this winter, expect more of the same in 2016. They have a potentially nasty one-two punch in the rotation in Tyson Ross and James Shields, but third starter Andrew Cashner is looking to rebound from a lackluster 2015 in his final seasons before free agency. Their offense, led by Wil Myers and the aging shell of one-time MVP candidate Matt Kemp, will struggle to score enough runs to keep a solid rotation afloat.
They did well to restock the farm system in the Craig Kimbrel trade, though. And Melvin Upton is useful again!
Colorado Rockies (68-94 in 2015)
The Rockies are either mad geniuses or just plain mad. The return on last July's Troy Tulowitzki trade seemed underwhelming, but the Rockies now have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, including seven prospects ranked on Baseball Prospectus' top 101 list. The future could be very bright if everything pans out. However, Jon Gray no longer seems like the slam dunk he was a couple years ago, and Eddie Butler posted a 5.90 ERA in 16 starts last year. The Rox still can't develop pitching, and no amount of offense will change that.
Speaking of offense, the 2016 version of this team is still going to score plenty. Nolan Arenado has inherited Tulo's title as "best player in baseball stuck on a last place team," while Carlos Gonzalez will continue to produce when healthy. Charlie Blackmon, D.J. LeMahieu, and Gerardo Parra are also worth adding in your fantasy leagues, if only because all that production won't save a pitching staff headlined by Jorge De La Rosa.