Ten most intriguing players in NL West: Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto top list

Let's move on to my most intriguing players to watch in 2016 in the NL West ...

1. Zack Greinke, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Mark your calendars: Diamondbacks at Dodgers, April 14. That could be Greinke's first start against his former team, whom he bolted to sign a six-year, $206 million contract. If Greinke starts the season opener and then starts again five days later, that would line him up for the series finale at Dodger Stadium. So, Chip Hale, don't give Greinke an extra day of rest that week.

Given the contract, there will be pressure for Greinke to match or come close to last year's 1.66 ERA. That's unrealistic, of course; you can't predict a pitcher to have that kind of season, and his Fielding Independent Pitching number was 2.76, a full run higher. Greinke had the highest left-on-base percentage in the majors at 86.5 percent, the highest percentage for a qualified starter since Pedro Martinez in 2000. How much of that was skill and how much was just one of those seasons where everything went his way?

2. Johnny Cueto, RHP, San Francisco Giants

Another big-ticket free agent, Cueto and Jeff Samardzija were signed by the Giants to bolster a rotation that needed help. Our final images of Cueto were his struggles down the stretch with the Royals, including an up-and-down postseason that alternated a couple of good starts with a couple of poor ones. But he returns to the National League, where he was one of the best pitchers in the majors over the previous five years. He goes to a pitcher-friendly park with a team that plays solid defense. There will be concerns about a tender elbow that forced him to miss a couple starts last season, but it wouldn't surprise me if ends up having a better season than Greinke.

3. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

The performances of rookie shortstops Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor in 2015 have increased the expectations for Seager. His September call-up created even more hype, as he hit .337/.425/.561 in 113 plate appearances. Keep in mind, however, that Seager's Triple-A numbers -- .278/.332/.451 -- were nothing like his major league results. One thing I love about him: He hit .344 against lefties across the three levels he played, so there aren't any obvious holes in his swing. There's going to be a lot of pressure on the 22-year-old trying to be a key cog on a team with the highest payroll in the game, but like his older brother Kyle of the Mariners, he's a baseball rat who should thrive in the spotlight.

4. Yasiel Puig, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers

The fan club is a lot smaller than it was a year ago after an injury-marred campaign in which he hit .255/.322/.436 and played just 79 games. Was it a good year for him? No. But such are the weight of expectations: He still had a better wRC+ than Ian Kinsler, Daniel Murphy, Evan Longoria, Matt Kemp, Adam Jones, Howie Kendrick or Adrian Beltre. My point: The talent is still there.

5. A.J. Pollock, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Pollock had the most under-the-radar great season in 2015, hitting .315/.367/.498 and winning a Gold Glove. He ranked sixth among position players in Baseball-Reference WAR and eighth in FanGraphs -- meaning the Diamondbacks had two of the top 10 position players in the league in Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt. So the question: Can he do it again? I think he can. He actually played at the same level in 2014, although he missed time with a broken hand and played 75 games, so nobody noticed.

6. Matt Duffy, 3B, San Francisco Giants

Duffy may have had the most surprising season of any player last year. Remember, after losing Pablo Sandoval to free agency, the Giants traded for Casey McGehee to play third base, with Duffy penciled in as a utility guy. Well, by the end of the season, the rookie who never homered in college and hit three homers in the minors in 2014, was hitting third for the Giants. But with added strength and some mechanical tweaks -- including advice from Barry Bonds -- he finished with a .295/.334/.428 line and 12 home runs, not bad for AT&T. The offensive improvement of Duffy, Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik gave the Giants perhaps the best infield in the majors in 2015.

7. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Listing him seventh isn't meant to be an insult. He's the best pitcher in the game and he'll be wonderful, must-watch TV again in 2016. He didn't win the ERA title for the first time in five years. Indeed, all he did was post a 2.13 ERA while leading the league in innings and strikeouts. In two years, he's increased his strikeout rate from 25.6 percent to 33.8 percent. Yes, he's apparently becoming even more dominant. I'd certainly pick him to win the Cy Young Award.

8. Wil Myers, 1B, San Diego Padres

What is he? I have no idea. After his promising Rookie of the Year season with the Rays in 2013, he's played just 147 games the past two years and hit .235 with 14 home runs. GM A.J. Preller staked his reputation on the trade for Myers last offseason, giving up premium talent in Trea Turner and Joe Ross to get him. If Myers flops again, Preller's job may be in jeopardy as well.

9. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies

Will he start the season with the Rockies? Will he end it with the Rockies?

10. Joc Pederson, CF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Through June 4, after a four-game road trip to Coors Field in which he homered in each game: .267/.393/.606. That carried him to the All-Star Game, where he actually started in place of the injured Matt Holliday.

From June 5 on: .176/.319/.301, 105 strikeouts in 97 games. He still drew a lot of walks but the all-out swing produced just nine home runs. He'll have to make adjustments and that will be intriguing to watch.