The Padres’ progress in 2020 will start with how they fare against their division rivals.
From ownership down to the players, the Padres have high hopes for 2020. All are expecting this to be a much more successful season than 2019 with the hope that meaningful baseball is played in September at Petco Park.
For that to happen, San Diego needs to look no further than within their division. Of course, the Los Angeles Dodgers sit firmly atop the division, once again picked by many experts to win 100-plus games, even before the addition of 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts.
FanGraphs projects the Padres to be the second-best team in the National League West, a distant second at that, with an 84-75 projected record.
Chances are, most Padres fans would be perfectly happy with a 14-win jump in 2020, which, according to this projection, puts them just three games out of a Wild Card spot.
For this projection to come true, one thing that needs to happen-the Padres must play better against their divisional foes. The Friars were 31-45 against the NL West last season, including a dreadful 6-13 against the mighty Dodgers.
Catching the Dodgers is a tall task this season, but that doesn’t mean the Friars can’t beat up on the other teams within the division that should be down, as the Giants and Rockies.
Last season, the Colorado Rockies were in last place for much of the year, until a plunge by the Padres allowed them to leave the cellar to end the season. Colorado finished 71-91. The Padres had a below .500 record at 8-11 against the Rockies, despite the teams being very similar, with the Padres being the better team for most of the season.
The same can be said of the lowly San Francisco Giants, who finished slightly better than the Friars at 77-85, yet the Padres often struggled against them and posted a 9-10 record.
Counting the Diamondbacks, who finished with 85 wins and 11 against San Diego, the Friars had a losing record against each division foe, which will be unacceptable in 2020.
If the Friars truly have lofty goals for 2020, it must start by beating teams in the NL West, especially the Rockies and Giants, both of whom are projected to lose around 90 games. They absolutely cannot go sub-.500 against each team in the division.
Asking for an overall winning record in the division might be too much at this juncture, as it hasn’t happened for the Friars since 2010, their last winning season. However, asking for at least a winning record against the bottom two teams should be expected.
The last time the #Padres had a winning record vs each NL West rival:
Diamondbacks, 2015 (10-9)
Dodgers, 2010 (10-8)
Giants, 2017 (12-7)
Rockies, 2015 (12-7)
Making significant progress in 2020 will depend on whether or not this list will need updating after the season.
— Nick Lee (@NickLee51) February 25, 2020
Of course, the Padres should not be talking about beating inferior teams in the division when they have been the inferior team more or less for the last decade. But this squad views itself differently, and if they want to prove it, they will need to place other teams where the Friars once were, where they have been since their last winning season over ten years ago.
The last time the Padres had a winning record against any division opponent was in 2017 when they went 12-7 against the Giants.
Catching the Dodgers will take time, and there are steps to be taken first, like usurping other teams that have finished higher than the Friars in recent years. It’s tough to take down the top dog when you are all the way in the basement.
The Padres will play the Rockies and Giants a combined 13 times before the calendar even turns to May. This is an excellent chance for the team to get out to a fast start and establish themselves as a division doormat no longer.