2024 NL West Season Preview

No division in baseball has higher expectations than the NL West. The Just Baseball staff previews what each team's 2024 could look like.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 26: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on after striking out in the third inning during an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on March 26, 2024 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

There’s no division in baseball with more to lose than the NL West in 2024. There are a whopping four teams in the division that are capable of deep October runs. Of course, the cellar-dwelling Colorado Rockies are the exception.

The Dodgers went out and added just about every top free agent on the market. Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto are set to pair as one of the highest-paid duos in the game. James Paxton and Teoscar Hernandez are also newcomers, as is Tyler Glasnow, who came over in a blockbuster trade with the Rays.

Another NL West squad that shouldn’t be slept on is the Giants. They have had themselves an extremely busy offseason, too, while trying to catch up to the Dodgers. Blake Snell, Matt Chapman and Jorge Soler are only a few of the new names showing up in the Bay Area.

Our staff has written detailed team previews on each team from the NL West. Let’s take a look to get ready for another exciting divisional race that is set to kick off later today!

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Los Angeles Dodgers Season Preview

Written by: Patrick Lyons

The NL West’s best team on paper heading into the season hasn’t won the World Series since the New York Yankees dynasty of the late 1990’s. While the Los Angeles Dodgers may not have fate on their side for bucking this trend, they do have the greatest assemblage of superstars we have ever seen.

The Dodgers went 100-62 in 2023 despite countless injuries to the starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts reached the century mark for the third consecutive year, but Los Angeles was bounced from the postseason in their first series for a second-straight October.

Regardless of their regular season success, the denizens of Chavez Ravine failed to punch a ticket to the Fall Classic for the third consecutive campaign.

Enter Shohei Ohtani. The Japanese superstar traveled 30 miles north to sign with the Dodgers and ensure his first appearance in the playoffs since joining Major League Baseball in 2018.

He won’t pitch in 2024, but hitting alongside Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman for 600 plate appearances, will still provide plenty of fireworks as he attempts to become only the second player to win the MVP Award in both leagues.

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Enter Yoshinobu Yamamoto as well. And Tyler Glasnow and Teoscar Hernández. Plus a cadre of players re-upping to return to L.A. — Clayton Kershaw, Jason Heyward, Joe Kelly, Kiké Hernández, Ryan Brasier — in hopes of earning the franchise’s first full-season championship ring since 1988.

Offseason spending was well over $1 billion. Sure, a lot more jerseys and memorabilia will be sold because of these transactions. The ultimate pursuit: not just winning the regular season, but winning four games in the World Series…

For the rest of this preview on the Los Angeles Dodgers, click here.

Arizona Diamondbacks Season Preview

Written by: Renee Dechert

Let’s start with some wisdom from FanGraphs’ Dan Szymborski, a writer who knows baseball numbers as well as anyone:

He was then asked how World Series losers typically fare the following season, to which he replied:

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And that is where the NL West underdogs and 2023 National League champion Arizona Diamondbacks find themselves as the 2024 season begins: Ahead of where they thought they’d be in terms of their competitive window while knowing, historically, there’s a lift ahead of them as they attempt to return to the Fall Classic.

Vice president and general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo have this in mind as they prepare for 2024, and they’re going to do their best to defy the odds.

For the rest of this preview on the Arizona Diamondbacks, click here.

San Diego Padres Season Preview

Written by: Javi Reyes

And just like that, we’re back at it. We’re back to talking about everyone’s favorite headline-generating, star-studded, suddenly-big-budget, little-brother-that-could group of baseball players: the NL West’s San Diego Padres. 

But the Padres and their usual coterie of stars they’ve put forth over these last few (tumultuous? disappointing? entertaining? who’s to say?) years has a slightly different aura this go-around.

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Not just in terms of expectations, but also personnel — one with which is relying on not just new faces, but new unproven, younger options. So while last season was a cavalcade of every Padres fan’s nightmares boiled down into one succinct package of torture — and, believe me, that’s putting it lightly — there’s still reason to believe they’ve got what it takes to make a good run. 

Perhaps it’s the disappointment of last season still lingering. Maybe it’s the (understandable) allure of mocking teams like the Padres (and Mets!) that talk a big game and flop harder than Madame Web. Either way, the San Diego Padres head into 2024 with the classification of being a relative sleeper — a view that has, over the last few seasons, meant a good thing… 

For the rest of this preview on the San Diego Padres, click here.

Colorado Rockies Season Preview

Written by: Patrick Lyons

For a franchise that has participated in the fewest postseason games in baseball history — 11 of those 24 contests came in the same month — it may come as a surprise that the Colorado Rockies had never lost 100 games until last season.

There had certainly been other low-points since joining the league in 1993, though.

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Spending $172 million during the 2000-01 offseason on left-handed starters Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle failed badly. Dumping Hampton’s contract two seasons into the eight-year deal required including fan favorite Juan Pierre in the trade only to watch him immediately win a World Series with the Marlins. Colorado got out of Neagle’s contract by citing a morale clause following a particularly embarrassing incident, but saved only $3 million in the process.

Then came a period in the early 2010s when the Rockies suffered through their second-longest postseason drought. The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros suffered during this time as well, but it was for a cause. Realizing the strategic advantages of tanking, they each won a World Series (three ring, in total). Colorado, for all their best intentions to put together a Wild Card contender, lost 377 games from 2012-15, only one less than the Cubs in their four-year tank of 2011-14.

The most recent back-breaking move came when perennial All-Star and homegrown hero Nolan Arenado was traded away following a feud with general manager Jeff Bridich. Including $51 million added insult to injury for Rockies fans, who recalled a similar pain when Troy Tulowitzki was dealt in surprising fashion in 2015. A few months after Arenado’s departure when Bridich and the club mutually agreed to part ways, Colorado was without both its superstar and surgeon behind the 2017-18 playoff rosters.

The Rockies sold over 2.6 million tickets in 2023, 13th-most in MLB, despite many sports enthusiasts in Denver feeling apathetic towards the club following the 103-loss campaign. Some signs indicate better days ahead; however, it’s hard to get worse after finishing dead-last in the National League and reaching the statistical nadir for your franchise.

And yet, things don’t feel quite as bleak as that win-loss record suggested. A trio of rookies emerged last year to lead the team in highlights and put fans in higher spirits. Nolan Jones reached 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in just 106 games. Ezequiel Tovar and Brenton Doyle provided elite defense up the middle. (Doyle won the Gold Glove Award as a center fielder, becoming the first rookie outfielder in the NL to secure the honor since its advent in 1957.)

There’s also a burgeoning farm system that could begin to impact the roster in the second half and years to come. Owning the third overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft will further help in expediting this transition period to end the postseason irrelevance that began almost immediately after losing in the 2018 NL Division Series.

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Now, for the first time since they entered the league, Colorado is being projected to be in the basement of the Senior Circuit, finishing last in the NL West. Bottom line: there’s no place but up…

For the rest of this preview on the Colorado Rockies, click here.

San Francisco Giants Season Preview

Written by: Patrick Lyons

The greatest backup plan of all-time is Henry Louis Gehrig. The 21-year-old started for Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp on June 2, 1925 and didn’t take another day off until a decade after Pipp’s retirement. In the process, the Iron Horse aided his team to seven World Series and became the greatest ever at the position

The San Francisco Giants are currently in line for the second greatest backup plan after an offseason that went from decent to diabolical in the matter of weeks.

It began by coaxing manager Bob Melvin away from NL West rivals, the San Diego Padres. The fan base desperately hoped this wouldn’t end up as the biggest acquisition of the winter.

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Then came a record-signing for a player coming directly out of Korea. Jung-Hoo Lee, a dynamic outfielder with every tool except power, agreed to a contract of $113 million over six years. For two months, it would be their most notable player acquisition.

Spring training kicked off in Scottsdale, Ariz. as scheduled on Feb. 15 with typical fanfare, but it wasn’t quite business as usual. A lot of talented free agents hadn’t found a home and the Giants had a clubhouse lacking everyday players.

Jorge Soler was the first domino to fall courtesy of a three-year, $42 million pact. Next was a three-year, $54 million deal with SoCal native Matt Chapman. Lastly, Blake Snell put pen to paper on a modest $62 million contract for two years, unless he opts out after one.

Just like that, the Giants agreed to the most significant financial commitment in franchise history entirely out of the blue. They had finally improved a roster that failed to produce a record above .500 in six of the last seven years. (Remember that improbable 107-win campaign in 2021?)

You can compare rosters as much as you want. San Francisco is still be outclassed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. But they can now hang amongst the other NL West rivals such as the Diamondbacks and Padres while aiming for one of three Wild Card spots.

Let’s not forget: That kind of rationale wasn’t a problem for the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks last year on their way to the World Series.

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For the rest of this preview on the San Francisco Giants, click here.