Projections. Early. The. There are a lot of words in that headline that should make you skeptical, and that's fine. Think of these things like educated guesses. More educated than you, that's for sure. But still guesses.
They're still entertaining, though, and even though Yoenis Cespedes and Mat Latos are still out on the open market, we have early projections from FanGraphs. According to the early projections, the NL West will shape up like ...
|Wins||Losses||W%||Run diff.||Runs scored/G||Runs allowed/G|
That doesn't seem especially encouraging. But stay with me.
First, that represents the Giants gaining two wins and the Dodgers losing two wins from last year. A four-win gap is substantial, and we won't have Donnie Ballgame to kick around anymore, but it's better than how the season ended last year.
Second, the Diamondbacks are absolutely murdered in these projections. Just like last year's Royals! But the numbers suggest that Ender Inciarte and Shelby Miller were roughly as valuable, which would be awesome, considering the Diamondbacks gave up a large swath of prospect to get Miller.
Third, the Giants still make the postseason in this scenario:
NL Wild Card: Mets at Giants
NLDS 1: Nationals at Dodgers
NLDS 2: Mets/Giants at Cubs
Please ignore that a Giants/Dodgers NLCS would murder you, murder you dead.
Fourth, the Giants are tied for the fifth-best record in baseball in these projections, with one of the better run differentials in the league.
Fifth, the Giants are projected to allow the second-fewest runs in baseball. Sure, the best team at run prevention is supposed to be the Dodgers, and a lot of the depressed opponent offense will come from the ballpark, but watching other teams score is annoying. According to FanGraphs' projections, we'll watch less of that than almost anyone in baseball.
Hopefully, Dave Roberts is adept at screwing up late-inning moves, and the Dodgers decide on the wrong five starters out of their 383 different, high-risk, high-reward options. But even if that doesn't happen, we can still guess at how the even year will go.
NL Wild Card: The Mets clinch so early, they can choose between their three freakishly talented starters. They settle on Matt Harvey, who allows a first-inning homer to Kyle Blanks from which the Mets cannot recover.
NLDS: The Cubs take the field for Game 1, and Wrigley Field echoes with a rattling hiss before the first pitch, as phantoms and poltergeists leak out from the earth and take the Cubs' players away, clawing and screaming as they sink below the earth. Even years and Cubs don't mix.
The Cubs will have to forfeit, of course.
NLCS: The Giants win the pennant in Game 5, when Yusmeiro Petit allows a walk-off homer to Rando Moreno with the first pitch of the 10th inning.
Something like that, give or take. The only constant is that the Dodgers and Giants don't meet in the NLCS because screw that.
The Giants might have one of the better teams in baseball, or they might be several wins away from winning the NL West. According to the early projections, they should be pretty good, though.
Pretty, pretty good.