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Tuesday BP: Who is the team to beat in the NL West?

Are the Giants chasing the Dodgers or the Padres?

Manny Machado in the background on first base while Tyler Anderson throws a pitch Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, San Francisco Giants fans.

The baseball season is almost here. Pitchers and catchers report in just over three weeks, and we’ll be watching real baseball by our favorite players on our favorite team before you know it.

In just over two months we’ll watch Opening Day, and then we’ll spend the next six months of the year tracking the standings, seeing how the Giants stack up in the NL West.

Which leads me to my question: who are the Giants chasing?

We’ve grown accustomed to the Los Angeles Dodgers being the team to beat in the division. They’ve won the NL West in nine of the last 10 seasons, with the Giants needing every single one of their franchise record for wins just to keep LA from sweeping the last decade.

Yet there’s a case to be made that the team to beat is the one that hasn’t won the division since 2006: the San Diego Padres.

The Dodgers got comfortably worse this offseason, though it’s worth noting that “worse” is relative to winning 111 games last year, which was relative to underperforming their run differential by a whopping five wins. But they did, indeed, get worse, losing Trea Turner, Tyler Anderson, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Chris Martin, Andrew Heaney, Craig Kimbrel, and Joey Gallo (not to mention having Walker Buehler out for the year), while only gaining Noah Syndergaard, J.D. Martinez, and Shelby Miller.

The Padres, of course, did the opposite, losing a much smaller crop (Brandon Drury, Josh Bell, Sean Manaea, Wil Myers, and possibly Jurickson Profar), while adding Xander Bogaerts, Matt Carpenter, and Seth Lugo to a team that will get Fernando Tatis Jr. back (after a suspension to start the season).

At this point I’d argue that the Padres are the team to beat in the NL West, but that feels weird to say. The Padres always find a way to mess this up.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. The Giants are chasing both.