NL West Outlook: How Padres stack up vs. Diamondbacks

Apr 22, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker (53) celebrates with left fielder Corbin Carroll (7) after hitting a two run home run against the San Diego Padres in the third inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres certainly have more to worry about in their own division than the Dodgers. Let’s start with the reigning National League champs.

When the 2023 season started, it seemed the Padres and Dodgers were destined for yet another epic clash of the titans. What, with the Dodgers sweeping the Padres in the 2020 NLDS before the Padres got revenge in the 2022 version.

The stage was set- until it wasn’t.

Then came along the young, naïve Arizona Diamondbacks, blowing preseason projections out of the water on their way to an improbable NL pennant and World Series berth.

The Diamondbacks seemed to look at the Padres’  run in 2022 and say “anything you can do, we can do better.” The Snakes also upset the Dodgers in the NLDS to advance to the NLCS against the Phillies, just like the Padres the year before. But then they took another step, clinching a pennant with its ensuing commemorative T-shirts and banner.

Now, in 2024, they look to reload and repeat in the National League. How do the Padres stack up? If the Padres are to make the playoffs, they likely will have to deal with Arizona in some fashion.

Let’s break down the two teams and see who has the upper hand.


Let’s get the easy one out of the way. Yes, the Padres have Fernando Tatis Jr. 29 other teams don’t have one of those. However, the remaining options of Jose Azocar, Jurickson Profar, or perhaps prospects like Jackson Merrill and Jakob Marsee, make San Diego’s outfield one of the more shallow and top-heavy in all of baseball.

The depth is where Arizona wins this battle going away. First, Corbin Carroll had a 2019-Tatis-like breakout into stardom. Ultimately winning NL Rookie of the Year and finishing fifth in MVP voting with his 65 extra-base hits, 134 OPS+ and 5.4 WAR.

FanGraphs’ ZiPS projects a similarly successful 2024.

The cupboard isn’t bare in Arizona’s outfield after their star, much like it is in San Diego. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. earned an All-Star selection in his first year with Arizona after coming over from Toronto. His 24 homers and 82 RBI last year is much better than any projection for any Padres outfielder not named Tatis.

Even Jake McCarthy and Alex Thomas appear better than most options the Padres have in the outfield.

Oh, and they also signed noted Padres killer Joc Pederson.

Advantage: Diamondbacks 

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On the infield dirt is where things look a little better for the Padres. Between Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, and Ha-Seong Kim, they have three of the more well-rounded infielders in baseball. All three are average or better defenders who can slug at the plate.

Most projections see a bounce-back year for Manny Machado after his “down” 2023 (30 HR, 115 OPS+).

Bogaerts put together a solid 4.4-WAR campaign. He now moves to second base, sliding Kim over to shortstop.

Kim is the wild card here. He could take the next stop and be a true five-tool, All-Star-level shortstop, or he can regress from last year.

Jake Cronenworth had a bitterly disappointing first season at first base, barely conjuring 1.0 WAR. The hope is he can be at least a league average hitter this season, so as to not weigh down an otherwise stellar infield.

At catcher, the Padres expect big things from Luis Campusano after something of a breakout late in 2023 (.319 AVG, 134 OPS+).

The Diamondbacks counter with a solid duo of Ketel Marte and Christian Walker. Marte bounced back in a huge way after a few lackluster seasons. As a middle infielder, his 25 homers and .844 OPS provided huge value.

Walker is turning into one of the better first basemen in baseball, with 33 homers, 103 RBI, and his second straight Gold Glove.

After those two, there’s a drop-off. Arizona acquired third baseman Eugenio Suarez from the Mariners, but he is coming off of a massive down season (101 OPS+).

Gabriel Moreno has more experience than Campusano at catcher. The Padres hope their backstop can attain Moreno’s success in his first full season.

Overall, the Padres have enough star power to win the day.

Advantage: Padres 

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Starting rotation

The Padres underwent an overhaul to their rotation due to departures in free agency. The Friars lost over 500 solid innings between Blake Snell, Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo, and Nick Martinez.

Thus far, they have replaced that with Michael King, Randy Vasquez, and Jhony Brito, all from the Juan Soto deal.

Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove certainly stand head and shoulders above the rest at this point. King is still unproven, not yet putting in a full season as a starter.

Matt Waldron and Pedro Avila are holdovers from last season also looking for a shot after showing flashes of being productive.

Overall, the Padres are very top-heavy in proven starting pitching.

Arizona’s main man is obvious as well in Zac Gallen. He turned in an All-Star season in 2023, ending with him finishing third in NL Cy Young voting.

Merrill Kelly is a solid number two, with a 3.29 ERA and 132 ERA+ last year—Arizona’s top two certainly rival San Diego’s version.

Depth is where Arizona wins again. Freshly signed free agent Eduardo Rodriguez is better than what the Padres offer in their third slot at the moment (134 ERA+).

Despite struggling in the regular season, Brandon Pfaadt thrived in the playoff run and slots into the rotation as well.

Ryne Nelson turned in 144 innings last year and is their projected fifth starter. That’s more experience than any of the Padres’ options beyond their top two starters.

Advantage: Diamondbacks


It’s hard to imagine the Padres having a better bullpen this season without Josh Hader. However, it seems they are approaching this year with more depth and while not having a top-tier arm.

Robert Suarez has closer qualities. Yuki Matsui brings a unique repertoire from Japan. Both he and Woo Suk Go have closing experience overseas. Newly acquired Wandy Peralta has also gotten big outs from the left side.

Returning are Tom Cosgrove and Steven Wilson in what was a top 10 bullpen last year.

Meanwhile, Arizona’s bullpen ranked 18th in ERA last season. However, they finished strong, ranking third in the final month of the season. The acquisition of Paul Sewald saw to that.

Miguel Castro, Kevin Ginkel, and Joe Mantiply are also capable of getting big outs.

While the Padres no longer have the star closer, this is one area where they win out with depth instead of star power.

Advantage: Padres 

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