NL West season preview

The race between the Giants and the Padres won't be nearly as dramatic in 2011.

Updated: March 28, 2011, 6:37 PM ET
ESPN The Magazine
Buster PoseyTim Heitman/US PresswireBuster Posey could become the seventh catcher to win the NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Giants and Padres battled until the final day of the season in 2010, but the race won't be nearly as dramatic in 2011. Why? Because San Francisco will have catcher Buster Posey and lefthander Madison Bumgarner on the Opening Day roster. They were two of baseball's most productive rookies in 2010, despite spending more than the first six weeks of the season in the minors. San Diego will again be better than expected because of its ability to prevent runs, but only two teams have the upside to challenge the Giants: the Rockies, if Ubaldo Jimenez can continue to refine the art of pitching at high altitude; and the Dodgers, assuming Matt Kemp's 2010 season (.249 batting average) was a bump on the road to superstardom. Kemp's yearlong romance with Rihanna ended in December, so we can assume he's no longer distracted by the pop star.


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