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NL West season preview: What’s in store for the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Padres, Giants and Rockies in 2024?

The Dodgers could contend for the MLB wins record. The Rockies could contend for the No. 1 draft pick.

The NL West might be the most interesting division in the game this season. It boasts not only the best player in baseball in Shohei Ohtani but also possibly the best team (on paper) in the sport. And with more than $1 billion in total contract guarantees spent on free agents this winter, the biggest of targets resides on the backs of the Dodgers, whose 2023 season ended abruptly in the NLDS.

But the NL West is not just the Dodgers’ show. The D-backs, who knocked the division's heavyweights out of the postseason last year, are looking to meet raised expectations and prove that their run to the World Series was no fluke. As for the Padres and Giants, even after some offseason moves, they seem to be heading for similar finishes in the division, and while neither team is bad, they don’t exactly scream playoff contender, either. And then there’s the Rockies.

Here’s a look at the 2024 National League West.

Other divisions: AL East. NL East. AL Central. NL Central. AL West.

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LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Projected record (per FanGraphs, as of March 13): 93-69

Best-case scenario: Shohei Ohtani does everything he was expected to do, hitting 50-plus homers on the way to winning his third MVP award in four seasons. With Ohtani sandwiched by Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, L.A.’s elite lineup cruises as the best offense in baseball. Yoshinobu Yamamoto shows the world exactly why he got $325 million without throwing a pitch in the big leagues. Tyler Glasnow sets a career high in innings pitched and flourishes in Dodger blue, while Walker Buehler, Bobby Miller and Co. stay healthy and form a strong rotation. Even Clayton Kershaw returns in some capacity and contributes. The Dodgers dominate all season and cruise to their first World Series title in a full season since 1988.

Worst-case scenario: The Dodgers fail to meet expectations largely because their rotation is an unmitigated disaster. Neither Glasnow nor Buehler stays healthy, forcing the team to piece together a rotation. Yamamoto struggles in his transition to the big leagues, Miller has a sophomore slump and Kershaw doesn’t throw a pitch this year. The Dodgers still reach the postseason because their offense is too talented to not produce, but the rotation is in shambles by the time October rolls around, and they get bounced in the first round, becoming one of the biggest disappointments in recent memory.

Make-or-break player: Tyler Glasnow. It’s no secret that when Glasnow is healthy, he is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. His electric stuff is the kind Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior probably dreams about — and it’s the reason the Dodgers signed him to a five-year deal immediately after acquiring him from the Rays. Still, the reality is that Glasnow might be the biggest gamble in baseball this season, as his 120 innings last year were the most he has thrown in a season in his career. L.A. is now betting that good health is in the right-hander’s future. If it is, the Dodgers got a bargain; if it’s not, they’ll be kicking themselves.

Season prediction: Even with no shortstop and several questions in the rotation, the Dodgers are so talented that it’s hard to imagine a world in which they don’t make it to at least the NLCS. They have three MVPs hitting back-to-back in their lineup and arguably the best catcher in baseball hitting cleanup. While their rotation leaves room for concern, the Dodgers have depth to cover for injuries. Don’t be shocked if this team challenges the 2001 Mariners for the MLB wins record.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Projected record: 83-79

Best-case scenario: With a better roster than the one they took to the World Series five months ago, the D-backs continue to open eyes for the second straight season. Their bolstered rotation is MLB’s best, led by right-hander Zac Gallen, who wins his first NL Cy Young Award in 2024, and the late-spring addition of Jordan Montgomery. But it’s not just the pitching that thrives. The Corbin Carroll-led lineup puts runs on the board as Arizona finds its way back to the NLCS — and this time it’s not a surprise.

Worst-case scenario: After shocking the baseball world in 2023, the D-backs fail to live up to expectations and are unable to build on their momentum in '24. The rotation is forced to shoulder the load for an anemic offense that can’t keep the team in games. The lack of run production proves to be insurmountable, and the D-backs miss the postseason.

Make-or-break player: Eduardo Rodriguez. Arizona made its biggest move of the offseason in acquiring Rodriguez to add to what was already a strong rotation. He provides another veteran option behind Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Montgomery, once he's in form, and gives the team another left-handed starter to match up against the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman in the division. Several other players will impact how the D-backs fare this season, but there are few teams with this many playoff-caliber starters, and Rodriguez should be a major asset for a young D-backs team on the rise.

Season prediction: The D-backs’ combination of speed, athleticism and power, to go with their strong rotation, has them well-positioned to make another run this season. The biggest question will be whether their offense can keep up with their pitching, but Carroll continuing where he left off in his NL Rookie of the Year campaign should help with that. The D-backs showed last season that they aren’t scared of the Dodgers, and a rematch against L.A. in the 2024 NLCS would be must-see TV.

[Read more: AL East season preview: What’s in store for the Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles and Red Sox in 2024?]

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Projected record: 81-81

Best-case scenario: The Padres remember who they are and lean on their top-heavy lineup to become one of the best offenses in baseball. Manny Machado continues his journey toward Cooperstown with another MVP-caliber season. Xander Bogaerts plays like a $280 million man, and Fernando Tatis Jr. returns to his 2021 form with a 40/40 season, finishing the year top-five in MVP voting. Former White Sox ace Dylan Cease returns to 2022 form and joins Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove to form a surprisingly solid rotation. San Diego’s offense leads the team to the NLCS, where it has another opportunity to get over the hump.

Worst-case scenario: The addition of Mike Shildt as manager changes little for a roster whose window appears to have closed. Cease continues his 2023 slide, Musgrove gets hurt, and Darvish begins to show his age. The combination of Machado, Bogaerts, Ha-Seong Kim and Tatis falters for the second straight season, and with no Juan Soto to play scapegoat, questions begin to swirl, ultimately leading to the departure of longtime president AJ Preller and leaving San Diego with an uncertain, yet expensive future.

Make-or-break player: Fernando Tatis Jr. Tatis had a solid 2023 in his return from shoulder surgery and PED suspension. But in order for the Padres to be title contenders, Tatis needs to be the MVP-caliber player we saw in 2021. After being moved off shortstop and challenged with the task of becoming more mature as a player last year, Tatis gravitated to playing right field, winning the platinum glove in his first season at the position. There’s no telling what he can do if he puts the same level of effort and attention to detail into his work at the plate.

Season prediction: Unlike the past few seasons, when the starting rotation and bullpen did a lot of the heavy lifting, the offense is going to have to drive this team in 2024. Even with the addition of Cease, there are a lot of questions about this team's pitching, but if there’s one area where the Padres should thrive, it’s scoring runs. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this team is in the mix for a wild-card spot the last week of the season.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Projected record: 81-81

Best-case scenario: In true Giants fashion, they find some magic in their ability to cobble together a lineup that finishes the season top 10 in on-base percentage and scores enough runs to win 90 games. Jorge Soler adds much-needed thump and becomes the first Giants player to hit 30 homers in a season since Barry Bonds in 2004. Jung-Hoo Lee is an elite tablesetter for Soler and Matt Chapman, who rediscovers his power stroke in the Bay en route to a season so great that he opts out of his deal at season’s end. Logan Webb continues his upward trajectory and dominance, capturing the NL Cy Young Award — or new teammate Blake Snell wins back-to-back Cy Youngs — and leading the Giants to the NLDS.

Worst-case scenario: The lineup continues to be pedestrian and sits in the bottom third of the league in runs scored. Soler becomes a victim to the cavernous dimensions of Oracle Park. Chapman resembles the player he was for the majority of 2023 and adds little to a middling offense as Lee struggles to adjust to major-league pitching. Snell reverts back to non-Cy form as the starting rotation is unable to make up for the offense’s deficiencies and crumbles as the team misses the playoffs.

Make-or-break player: Jung-Hoo Lee. The Giants haven’t had much success with free-agent position players, but they finally landed one with Lee. Coming from South Korea, he has a reputation as a player who is dynamic offensively, and that’s exactly what the Giants need. They’re not built to be a team that hits homers, but with Lee at the top of the order, they have a potential new run-scoring catalyst.

Season prediction: Pitching is going to carry the Giants in 2024, and given the way Webb has become one of the most consistent starters in baseball, the chances that he anchors the rotation again this season are high. San Francisco’s new offensive pieces will go through some rough stretches, and the lineup will put pressure on the rotation to perform, but with the 11th-hour signing of Snell, the Giants' pitching could be sneaky solid. I predict they'll be playing for a playoff berth in July, but with the D-backs and Dodgers ahead of them, they’ll likely be left on the outside looking in.

[Read more: 26-and-under power rankings: Evaluating all 30 teams by their young talent, from the Rockies to No. 1]

The 2024 Dodgers could contend for the MLB wins record. The 2024 Rockies could contend for the No. 1 draft pick. (Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports)
The 2024 Dodgers could contend for the MLB wins record. The 2024 Rockies could contend for the No. 1 draft pick. (Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports) (Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports)

COLORADO ROCKIES

Projected record: 64-98

Best-case scenario: The Rockies play good baseball and play spoiler for the playoff contenders in the National League. Nolan Jones and Kris Bryant become the newest iteration of the Blake St. Bombers, combining to launch 70 homers as a middle-of-the-order duo that generates some much-needed offense for Colorado. Ezequiel Tovar and Brendan Rodgers solidify the Rox’s middle infield, and top prospect Zac Veen gets a cup of coffee and looks like a building block for the future.

Worst-case scenario: Bryant fails to play 100 games for the third consecutive season since signing his seven-year, $182 million contract, leaving the Rockies without a big bat to carry their offense. Jones can’t replicate his breakout season from '23 and becomes an afterthought. No young players make an impact, the pitching falters and the Rockies are the worst team in baseball.

Make-or-break player: Kris Bryant. Bryant hasn’t yet played more than 80 games for the Rockies in a season. If he stays healthy, the former NL MVP can put up stupid numbers at Coors Field and provide the right-handed pop Colorado was looking for when it signed him. If not, Bryant’s deal will soon become an albatross hindering an already-struggling Rockies franchise from improving.

Season prediction: The Rockies will probably be in the running for the No. 1 pick in next year’s MLB Draft. But it’s not as if they have less talent than the Oakland A’s or Chicago White Sox. Bryant probably won’t play 140 games this season, but he’ll likely play enough to positively impact Colorado’s offense. Most importantly, Jones should continue to ascend and be the Rockies’ representative at the All-Star Game in Arlington, Texas.