The NL West just might be the weirdest division in baseball. They were the only division in baseball to not have a team win less than 70 games, but their second-place finisher, Arizona, was the worst out of all second-place finishers. The Diamondbacks finished the season 21 games back of the Dodgers, with the next biggest disparity being the Athletics finishing 10 games back of the Astros. So, let’s get into what the West’s 2020 season will look like. Spoiler alert: After the Dodgers, your guess is as good as mine.
Los Angeles Dodgers
It’s still the Dodgers’ division to lose. Los Angeles has won the West every year since 2014, and they’re in no position to lose it anytime soon. Sure, they let Cy Young Award runner-up Hyun-Jin Ryu walk, but their rotation is still really solid with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias and Alex Wood. They also added Blake Treinen to their bullpen, who could be in line for a huge bounce-back season. But mainly, aside from Ryu they really didn’t lose much, and no one else in the division added enough to catch them. They’re not necessarily done either, as they’re one of the top teams reportedly interested in acquiring Mookie Betts from the Red Sox. Unless some of the other teams add an impact player or their young talent develops faster than anticipated, they should cruise to another division title.
The Diamondbacks are probably the only team that can reasonably try to compete with the Dodgers in 2020. Their recent addition of Starling Marte helps their case, but at this point in Marte’s career, he likely won’t be that big a difference-maker. They also poached Madison Bumgarner from the Giants, but compared to their rotation from the majority of last season, which included Zack Greinke, they pretty much just tread water. Their offense is solid, led by 2019 breakout star Ketel Marte, David Peralta, Marte, Eduardo Escobar, Carson Kelly and offseason addition Kole Calhoun, but it’s not one that’s going to really make you afraid to face it. Really, the Diamondbacks are just fine. They’ll probably win 81 and lose 81, give or take five games or so. They’re not good, they’re not bad, they’re just there.
San Fransico Giants
The Giants are another one of those teams who aren’t necessarily the worst, but they’re not going to do anything impactful in 2020. They lost Bumgarner to the Diamondbacks and closer Will Smith to the Braves while also not making any serious additions. Aside from a couple of players here or there, most notably Mike Yastrzemski who had a really solid rookie season with an OPS of .852 and 21 home runs over 371 at-bats, the Giants are just old and uninspiring. In 2020, Johnny Cueto will be 34, and has a grand total of 69 innings pitched in the past two seasons. Evan Longoria will be 34, and his OPS of .762 last season was his highest since 2016. Brandon Belt will be 32. Brandon Crawford will be 33. Tony Watson will be 35. Jeff Samardzija will be 35. Even Buster Posey will be 33, as the anchor from those three even-year World Series victories has fallen far from his MVP form. Don’t expect much from this team in 2020, and there’s even a decent chance that they’ll finish in last place.
The Rockies’ entire offseason has been completely taken over by the gripes of one rather important player: Nolan Arenado. Perhaps the best third baseman in the MLB, Arenado has made it clear that he’s unhappy in Colorado, seemingly stemming from the fact that the Rockies are yet another team that isn’t really trying to compete in 2020 or anytime soon. The feeling right now is that he’s likely to be dealt, but even if they end up keeping him they’re not the most exciting team out there. Like the Diamondbacks, they’re just eh. Aside from Arenado, they have some solid offensive pieces like Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story — David Dhal is pretty good — but aside from that their lineup is filled out with a bunch of just average bats like Daniel Murphy, Raimel Tapia, Ryan McMahon and Tony Wolters. Their pitching staff is also questionable, with their top starting being German Marquez, Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland and bullpen arms bing Scott Oberg and Wade Davis. There’s just nothing about the Rockies that screams playoffs. Could they finish above .500? I guess, but as of right now that seems like a bit of a stretch.
San Diego Padres
The Padres are actually the team that’s the most intriguing to me on this list, and I think there’s a real chance that they can finish above .500 for the first time since 2010. They have a bunch of young talent that should only be getting better, such as Fernando Tatis Jr., Chris Paddack and Francisco Mejia. They recently acquired Tommy Pham from the Rays, who should be a serious impact bat in the middle of their lineup, Eric Hosmer can still hit a bit and Kirby Yates was the best relief pitcher in all of baseball last season. And of course, who can forget Manny Machado, who signed a mega-deal with the Padres last offseason? If they can acquire Mookie Betts from the Red Sox like they’re rumored to have interest in, being the other top suitor along with the Dodgers, then it would add a serious dynamic bat to their lineup and make them a legitimate “worst to first” contender. They still need some work, but I think this is the beginning of the upswing for the Padres.