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Strengths and Weaknesses: What to expect from each National League West team this season

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Photo credit:© Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports
Veronica Chung
19 days ago
For the longest time, the National League (NL) West division has been the most uneven due to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ overwhelmingly sustainable dominance. However, this division still had the most interesting storylines when there were surprise performances from unlikely teams like when the San Francisco Giants challenged the Dodgers to claim the division lead after both teams won over 100 games. 
This time around, the division is much more competitive with more teams aiming to contend. Arizona Diamondbacks are attempting to defend their NL champion title while the Giants and Padres are trying to remain competitive despite the challenges they experienced during the offseason. Yes, the Colorado Rockies are still doing their own thing but this division is set to become one of the most fascinating divisions this season. 
Below are some strengths and weaknesses of each NL West team and all teams are in alphabetical order.

Arizona Diamondbacks (PECOTA Projection: 87.9 – 74.1)

Strength: Burgeoning youth movement
Arizona Diamondbacks also benefitted from earlier draft picks when the team was bottoming out in its division for years much like the Baltimore Orioles. Arizona’s front office took advantage of the draft picks during the team’s dark age and sped up the rebuild by developing the younger players in the system efficiently. Now, they are reaping the benefits as they see young talents like Corbin Carroll, Brandon Pfaadt and Alek Thomas making strides. The youth movement doesn’t end there since there are tons of talents like Jordan Lawlor knocking on the doors too. This team will have all the weapons to build a sustainable winner as long as they know when and how to bring up the younger players. They’ve already proven that they could be successful last season by making it to the World Series stage, and they are only just getting started.
Weakness: Bullpen depth
Arizona upgraded their pitching throughout the roster and it’s in a much better place than it was two years ago. The team traded for experienced relief pitchers like Paul Sewald and Ryan Thompson to add strength to what used to be a weaker relief core. While the bullpen depth is stronger, you can never have enough pitching support. Out of the Diamondbacks’ roster, the bullpen is their weakest out of all with more volatility. Their bullpen held up last season, especially throughout the entirety of the playoffs, but whether they are able to replicate that without any reinforcements from the outside remains to be seen. 

Colorado Rockies (PECOTA Projection: 56.8 – 105.2)

Strength: Hitting
The Colorado Rockies’ stadium is designed for hitters – there’s a reason why it’s called a hitter’s paradise. Even the most average hitters have the chance to improve their hitting statistics since the balls travel far and well in Colorado. It also helps that the Rockies have excellent hitters like Charlie Blackmon, Brendan Rodgers, Kris Bryant and Ryan McMahon. If the Rockies’ lineup is able to stay healthy most of the season and the hitters are able to perform to their potential, their hitting would be the biggest strength, at least at their home stadium. 
Weakness: Ownership
Goodness gracious, this ownership has been in shambles for a very long time. Monfort brothers have driven the team to the ground without offering much relief for the team that’s searched for its identity for too long. The team’s pitching development is a mess with barely any pitchers succeeding in Colorado. Colorado has had some pitching talents in their hands, like Jon Gray, but they all found success outside of Colorado instead. Colorado also never really worked to improve its teams through trades during the offseason or at trade deadlines, hoping that the status quo would carry them somewhere. Well, it did but it led to sickening mediocrity. What a waste of a beautiful stadium and a genius marketing team that never fails to fill up the seats for a team that loses at least 100 games. If the ownership doesn’t make any efforts to overhaul the team long-term, there’s barely any hope left for the Rockies at this point.

Mar 24, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith (16) is greeted by second baseman Mookie Betts (50) after scoring a run during the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers (PECOTA Projection: 100.5 – 61.5)

Strength: Endless talents in the farm system
Yes, signing superstar Shohei Ohtani, despite the recent developments around illegal gambling, is the most notable power move and strength for the Dodgers, but there’s already an existing strong point the Dodgers have: the seemingly bottomless talents in the farm system. The Dodgers never had to worry about replacing players whenever any major leaguers got injured because they’ve always had talented young players they can call up at any time. Even if there were weaknesses around the roster, the Dodgers seamlessly filled the holes with young and hungry players who were ready to contribute to the team, and that’s how the Dodgers became the most sustainable success in the league. This year will be no different so watch out for younger talents blossoming into their everyday roles and wait to see which other players are going to get the call up. 
Weakness: Max Muncy at third base
It’s no secret that the Dodgers always played some players outside of their natural positions. Mookie Betts is now an infielder, and he’s an exception because he is great at everything, apparently, including infield defence. But if there’s any immediate weakness, it’s Max Muncy playing third base for this team. He might have been a better defender some time ago but he is no longer the best defender to put on the field. The amount of errors he made in the infield should be concerning to the Dodgers moving forward. The Dodgers will have to become creative in deploying Max Muncy, especially when it comes to defence but there’s no doubt that the Dodgers will solve the problem internally and seamlessly with another talented young infielder. 

San Diego Padres (PECOTA Projection: 81.9 – 80.1)

Strength: Pitching talent
San Diego has had sneaky good pitching for a while now and the pitching core performed to its potential last season as the rotation featured Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo. This time around, the team might have let Snell and Wacha walk, it now has the most interesting pitching depth after trading outfielder Juan Soto to the New York Yankees and the team trading for Dylan Cease from the Chicago White Sox. If there’s anything San Diego has been great at, it’s putting talents together in the most creative way possible. San Diego has received the most interesting pitching talents like Michael King from its trade this offseason, and their haul for rotation depth will pay off one day, even if it’s not the 2024 season right away.  
Weakness: Limited payroll 
The San Diego Padres suffered from overextending their payroll by bringing in many star players to the roster in the past few seasons. The Padres are still in a financial woe and working to reduce their budget for that reason. The team is still trying to be creative in helping the roster become more competitive despite the limitations, but they also won’t be able to bring in as many players through free-agent signings or trades if they have a hard limit on their spending moving forward. Spending isn’t everything but it still does make a huge difference when teams have to improve during the offseason or at trade deadlines. We’ll have to see how successful San Diego can be with a limited payroll, but there’s no doubt that it will eventually become an obstacle for the team sometimes. 

San Francisco Giants (PECOTA Projection: 84.6 – 77.4)

Strength: Stronger free-agent signings
After many years of failing to sign key free agents, the San Francisco Giants finally made the splash they needed to. The Giants brought in outfielder Jung-Hoo Lee, starting pitcher Blake Snell, designated hitter and outfielder Jorge Soler and third baseman Matt Chapman to create its own star-studded roster. From these moves, San Francisco announced their intention to become much more competitive, unlike last season, and all these players will help to move the team forward as the team will have more pop and better defence. With manager Bob Melvin at the helm, this team could make rivals’ lives a bit more miserable with its pesky and powerful offence and cleaner defence. 
Weakness: No first-round draft picks
Signing free agents is a great thing, but if the signings go overboard, it can create awkward situations like the team having no first-round draft picks. That’s what San Francisco committed to when the team signed stronger free agents this offseason. Not having the first-round picks won’t hurt him in 2024 and it won’t matter all that much if the team does make it to the playoffs and hopefully get to the World Series stage again. But not having the first-round draft picks will matter more if the team does fail to make it to the playoffs and is in dire need of starting a sustainable and successful youth movement to create a better team. We’ll see how much the farm system will suffer without the necessary draft picks in the earlier rounds, and maybe it won’t impact San Francisco at all if they are able to develop later-round picks well. But only time will tell as to whether they made the right decision or not by giving up all first-round picks in 2024. 

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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