2. Los Angeles Dodgers
- 2022 record: 111-51
- 2023 win total: 96.5
- Projected record: 98-64
- Playoff status: No. 1 NL Wild Card
The Dodgers are undoubtedly worse than they were last season. That's what happens when you lose Trea Turner in free agency and Gavin Lux to a torn ACL during Spring Training. That said, the Dodgers are not taking as big of a step back as many pundits think.
Miguel Vargas should replace the production of Justin Turner, J.D. Martinez should help offset the loss of Lux, and James Outman will almost certainly be better than Cody Bellinger was last year. As far as pitching goes, the team has Noah Syndergaard and a slew of young pitchers (like Gavin Stone) that can fill in and replace Tyler Anderson.
In theory, you could argue that the Dodgers are only 7-8 games worse than they were a year ago, which would give them 103-104 wins. However, with the Padres being better than they were last year, we should probably tack another 5-6 losses to the Dodgers' record (because they will not be going 14-5 against their rivals this time around.
1. San Diego Padres
- 2022 record: 89-73
- 2023 win total: 93.5
- Projected record: 103-59
- Playoff status: No. 1 seed in NL, first-round bye
As gross as it is to admit, this NL West is the San Diego Padres' division to lose in 2023. Of course, anything can happen across a 162-game season, but the Padres have put together a lineup that's even better than the Dodgers' was last season.
Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts. That's one of the greatest cores in recent MLB history. San Diego still has quality big-league hitters to fill out the rest of the lineup as well.
The back end of the Padres' rotation is a bit suspect, though. If Yu Darvish and/or Joe Musgrove take a step back or get hurt, then they could be in trouble. But if that happens the team will just trade for whatever ace is on the market, like Corbin Burnes, who suddenly doesn't seem like a legitimate Dodgers trade target.
The Padres are the team to beat in the NL West in 2023. For once, the Dodgers are underdogs and it's actually kind of fun. Let's embrace it.