With the expanded playoffs being implemented this season, the National League West had three teams that could legitimately make the postseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and San Diego Padres all have the talent to earn playoff berths in this shortened season.
Along with the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies, the division is full of extremely talented players. With that being said, it is time to create the best possible starting lineup using the best players from each team.
Starting Pitcher- Walker Buehler
Madison Bumgarner, Chris Paddack, and Clayton Kershaw were also great options, but the 25-year-old Dodger is the best pitcher to go for. After making 23 starts in 2018, Buehler had his breakout season in 2019.
He made 30 starts; going 14-4 with a 3.26 ERA, and solidifying himself as the team’s best pitcher. Buehler also finished ninth in NL CY Young voting; giving himself the confidence to perform even better in 2020.
The Vanderbilt University product will look to lead the Dodgers pitching staff and get the team back to the World Series for the first time since 2018.
Catcher- Will Smith
With Buster Posey of the Giants deciding to opt out of the 2020 season, I decided to go with the Dodgers promising young catcher. Will Smith has had limited opportunities since making his debut last season, but has shown potential every time he gets on the field.
In only 54 games in 2019, he had 15 home runs and 42 runs batted in; showing he can produce when given the opportunity.
Francisco Mejía from the Padres is another talented player, but the Dodgers catcher has shown much more at the plate in his brief professional career. In the 60 game season, I expect Smith to get a lot of playing time alongside veteran Austin Barnes.
First Baseman- Max Muncy
Another guy who I considered for this spot was Eric Hosmer from the Padres, but the recent success from Muncy cannot be overlooked. The Padres first baseman is a former All-Star, but we are still waiting to see his best with San Diego.
After having a rough start to his professional career with the Athletics in 2015 and 2016, he has been a huge success with the Dodgers in the last few years.
Last season, Muncy became an All-Star for the first time in a year where he hit 35 home runs and had 98 runs batted in. He is 29-years-old, and will be an important piece in a loaded Dodgers offense. For the next few years, I believe Muncy will be at the top of his game and will be a very talented hitter going forward.
Second Baseman- Ketel Marte
Going into the 2020 season, one of the key players for the Diamondbacks will be Ketel Marte. Ever since he was traded from the Seattle Mariners in the 2016 offseason, we have seen a ton of progression from the 26-year-old.
In 2019, Marte was a first-time All-Star and finished fourth in National League MVP voting. The infielder/outfielder finished the season with .329 batting average, 32 home runs, and 92 runs batted in.
The other candidates for this position would be Enrique Hernandez or Gavin Lux, but the consistent progression from Marte during his time in Arizona has made him one of best middle infielders in the league.
If the Diamondbacks want to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2017, Marte will need to perform similarly to last season.
Shortstop- Trevor Story
For me, this was one of the toughest positions to pick one player from. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Corey Seager are extremely talented, but Trevor Story is the best shortstop in the division. Tatis Jr. has been sensational in his brief career with the Padres, but the Rockies player is better overall at the moment.
The 27-year-old has progressed ever since he came up in 2016 by hitting at least 20 home runs in each of his first four seasons. The two-time All-Star has been a consistent piece in the middle of the Rockies lineup as he begins the prime of his career.
The Rockies are not predicted to make the playoffs this season, but Story will continue to perform for years to come.
Third Baseman- Nolan Arenado
Another Rockies player who has thrived throughout his career in Colorado is Arenado. For the last five seasons, the third baseman has been an All-Star and finished top 10 in NL MVP voting each year.
Manny Machado was another great option at this position, but Arenado has been much more consistent throughout his career.
Since 2015, the 29-year-old third baseman has hit at least 37 home runs in each season. Even with the lack of support around him, I fully expect Arenado to produce for years to come. He is also a fantastic defensive third baseman; making him one of the most well-rounded players in the league.
Left Fielder- Joc Pederson
For the last couple of seasons, Joc Pederson has been a very solid hitter for the Dodgers. He has never hit for a high average, as he has a .233 career batting average, but he has plenty of home run power.
The one-time All-Star had 36 home runs and 74 runs batted in for the team last season. Tommy Pham and David Peralta are other great options at the position as well, but Pederson has hit for more power from the plate.
The Dodgers outfielder is never going to hit around .300 for a full season, but he is certainly a dangerous hitter when he comes to the plate.
Center Fielder- Cody Bellinger
One Dodgers player who has been fantastic since he made his debut is Cody Bellinger. The two-time All-Star and 2019 NL MVP has been nothing but special for his team. Last season, he hit 47 home runs and had 115 runs batted in with a .305 batting average.
Starling Marte was the only other legitimate option at the position, but the newly acquired Diamondback has not been of the same level as the Dodger star.
Bellinger is only 25-years-old, and will be expected to play at a MVP level for plenty of years to come. He will need to be a important piece in the team getting their first World Series title since 1988.
Right Fielder- Mookie Betts
Another Dodger player who will be expected to play at a MVP level going forward is Mookie Betts. The former Boston Red Sox just signed a new 12-year extension that will likely keep him with the Dodgers for the rest of his career.
The 2018 American League MVP has joined a lineup that is full of extremely talented players; giving the Dodgers one of the most potent lineups in recent history. Betts has been an All-Star for the past four seasons, and will be expected to continue on the level.
Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon would have been another excellent option at the position, but Betts has been on another level throughout his career in Boston. As the Dodgers new right fielder, Betts will continue his success and be fantastic for the team in the shortened season.