The Wild, Wild N.L. West: An Early 2020 Division Outlook

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Credit: AP Photo

Arizona Diamondbacks

There is something I need to get off my chest about the Arizona Diamondbacks before I dive into their outlook. I have no idea as to why, but I think the Diamondbacks are one of the least exciting teams to be a fan of, not only in the N.L. West, but in all of baseball. You guys can let me know if I am crazy or if you agree in the comments. I don’t have any particular reason for this rationale, other than the fact that I just can’t get excited about them. However, if they go back to their teal and purple jersey’s (why did they ever abandon those?) they will certainly grab my attention again. Imagine this: Padres and D-Backs in a one game playoff, each team sporting their throwback jersey’s. Wouldn’t that be incredible? We can all dream.

Okay, enough of that. Whether I like it or not, the Diamondbacks are a formidable team in the N.L. West now and they look to continue this trend over the next few years. One main reason for their success is Paul Goldschmidt. Like Kershaw and Arenado, Goldschmidt is the face of the Diamondbacks’ franchise. He has been an all-star every season dating back to 2013 and has only had one year in which he batted under .300 (he batted .297 in 2016). He is currently signed through 2018 with a team option in 2019. I would be very surprised if he is not a Diamondback in 2020. One unique part to Goldschmidt’s game is not only his ability to hit the ball 450 feet, but also his skill in running the bases. Given he eclipses the 20 stolen base mark by the end of this season, he will have had three years of 20+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases. You do not see that every day from a first baseman. We see glimpses of Wil Myers showing this type of potential, but he certainly does not obtain the ability to get on base as often like Goldschmidt does. Assuming he is a part of their long-term organizational plans, they will continue to build around him and they will be a potent force in the National League. We are starting to see this already here in 2017.

While the Diamondbacks have a solid franchise player like Goldschmidt to strengthen their lineup, their pitching stuff is a bit puzzling. Zack Greinke, the ace of their rotation, has had an up and down ride so far with the D-Backs. His first year he posted a 4.37 ERA but he bounced back quite nicely this year with a 2.87 ERA through mid-September. While Greinke is signed through 2021, he is already 33. Thus, he will be 36 come 2020. Only time will tell how Greinke will progress through the years, but it is safe to say his stuff will not be as good. The rest of their rotation is also questionable. Currently, they have guys like Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin. I will not dive into the stats of all of these guys but they have all had significant ups and downs in their careers that are noteworthy when considering their future success. The D-Backs will need one of their young pitching prospects to really blossom or they’ll be forced to sign a big name free agent starter if their rotation is still shaky come 2020. I am sure they are praying their first-round pick in 2011, Archie Bradley, ends up panning out.

While we mentioned how the Diamondbacks have a somewhat questionable pitching rotation when looking forward to 2020, their farm system is home to three guys who could potentially make that picture a lot clearer. Jon Duplantier, Taylor Clarke and Anthony Banda have each garnered some buzz early on in their careers and they seem to all be on track to be in the big leagues by 2019 at the latest. Banda is someone to keep close tabs on. He was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2011, but Banda decided to attend community college. He was later drafted again by the Milwaukee Brewers a year later. However, the Diamondbacks kept close tabs on him and when they were given the chance to acquire him via trade, they didn’t hesitate. He was acquired in a trade that sent Gerrado Parra over to the Brewers. This kind of dedication to one player exemplifies how they view him and that they really want Banda to be a part of their long-term plan. In regard to his 2017 stats, Banda has struggled. His first full season in Triple-A, he posted a 5.39 ERA and a 6.97 ERA in his short tenure in the big leagues. It will be interesting to see how this young left hander rebounds but look for him when 2020 rolls around because the Diamondbacks’ organization certainly sees promise.

San Francisco Giants

Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Christian Arroyo (Brandon Belt notable mention) Finally, we must talk about the most hated team in the division (the Dodgers are a super close 2nd for this title). The Giants have had an awful year with a roster that is under performing at an unprecedented level. Unfortunately, this means that they can bounce back rather quick and start contending again right away. Madison Bumgarner has quickly become the face of the franchise with not only his arm, but also a little bit of his bat. I must admit, he can swing the shillelagh a little bit. Given he is only 28 years old, Bumgarner will bounce back after his bumpy year dealing with injuries that he is 100% to blame for. It is important to note that the Padres have had some success against Bumgarner over the years and when they begin contending, this will be crucial for them. The Padres just need to avoid facing Bumgarner twice in a seven-game series.

Credit: CNN

Buster Posey is the second player to keep an eye on for the 2020 Giants. Despite hitting the 30-year mark in age, Posey is still producing for the San Francisco Giants. He will be 33 come 2020, so we will see if this kind of offensive production is sustained, however, he still brings the value of a veteran presence in the dugout. The Giants have often played him over at first base to give his legs a rest so it will be interesting to see how they approach him in 2020. Is he their plan for first base in the future while they develop a catcher in their farm system? It is tough to say when they have a guy like Brandon Belt at first who has done quite well for them. However it pans out, we can pencil in Posey in the lineup in 2020 and he is still going to be a threat to put up big numbers and lead them to a postseason run.

Finally, it is imperative to discuss the development of young Christian Arroyo and how he fits into the San Francisco Giants plans three years down the road. Arroyo has gotten a little over 100 AB’s this year at the major league level and has struggled to find his groove. However, we must note that he is only 22 years old and will have plenty of time to develop before the 2020 season. With Brandon Crawford at shortstop and Joe Panik at second base, look for Arroyo to be the third baseman of the future for the Giants. Right now, that is a position of weakness for them after trading away Matt Duffy and Eduardo Nunez.

There you have it, the outlook on each team in the N.L. West the Padres must go up against when they should start the competing process in 2020. Realistically, 2021 seems to be the year that people are pointing to for a legitimate run at the division, however, I feel 2020 is going to be a crucial year for the Padres. I say they need to aim for a wild card spot and go from there. With that being said, here are my projected standings come 2020 – I will even add in some records for the fun of it. Hope you all enjoyed this brief summary of each team and let me know what you think!

N.L. West 2020 Predicted Standings
Los Angeles Dodgers 99-63
Colorado Rockies 90-72 *Wild Card Berth
San Diego Padres 89-73 *Wild Card Berth (Yes, that is right. We are having a rematch in Coors)
Arizona Diamondbacks 79-83
San Francisco Giants 73-89

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