For the third straight year, Baseball Prospectus is kicking off spring training for Insider with an early look at the PECOTA projected standings. A lot can change between now and Opening Day because of injuries and roster machinations, but throughout this week, BP will provide early prognostications of how each division will play out.
In 2010, the National League West was baseball's most exciting division, and the winner was not decided until the season's final day when the San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres. So what sorts of surprises does the division that's home to the surprise world champs and the equally surprising Padres hold for us this time around?
With the aid of Baseball Prospectus' projection system, PECOTA, we've forecasted the performance of every player in baseball this season. When coupled with our estimates of playing time, PECOTA's projections allow us to generate an expected record for each team. Here's how the system sees the NL West playing out in 2011: