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National League West Breakdown

National League West Ed and Eddie via


National League West Breakdown

Before the All-Star break, it looked as if the San Francisco Giants were going to run away with the National League West division. Since the break, the Giants have taken a nose dive that has allowed the Los Angeles Dodgers to take control of the division. It is really between these two teams for the division but a more in-depth breakdown may provide the answer about who may take the division.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Since August 2nd, the Dodgers own a 15-13 record. While that may not be impressive, it has been enough for them to track down and pass the San Francisco Giants for the division lead. After the end of play on Wednesday, the Dodgers have a 74-59 record which is good enough for a 1.5 game lead in the division.

Justin Turner has been a big part of the Dodgers success during the second half of the 2016 season. He is hitting .272 and leads the team in both home runs (24) and RBI’s (76). They have also leaned heavily on 22 year-old shortstop Corey Seager. The young star has mashed 23 homers and drove in 62 runs while hitting at a .315 clip. Despite great offensive years from these two players, the Dodgers offense still ranks in the bottom half of the league in many categories. In major categories such as runs scored, batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage, the Dodgers rank 19th, 22nd, 19th, and 18th respectively. For a team that has postseason dreams, this lack of offensive firepower may become a problem.

One area the Dodgers have been good in this season is pitching. When ace Clayton Kershaw was diagnosed with a herniated disk in his back, many thought the Dodgers rotation and team would crumble. Really, they have done the opposite and that is no small feat to carry out. Against all odds, they have found a way to win even when their best pitcher has been on the shelf.

Kenta Maeda has stepped up and filled a huge role in the rotation for the Dodgers. While Kershaw has been out, Maeda has assumed the role of ace of a staff that has battled injuries all season. Maeda leads the team with 13 wins, a 3.38 ERA, and 148 strikeouts. He has made 26 starts this season which is the most by a Dodger pitcher this season. Along with Maeda, Bud Norris and Scott Kazmir have both been solid when called upon during the season.

Not only are the Dodgers getting the job done in the rotation, they also have a pretty good bullpen. That bullpen is led by closer Kenley Jansen who has recorded 39 saves this season. Jansen has been so dominate in his role as closer this season that no other Dodger pitcher has recorded a save this season.

When healthy, the Dodgers are a team that could ride great pitching into the playoffs. As a team, they own the 5th-best team ERA in the majors at 3.78. Their batting average against and WHIP also rank in the top five in the big leagues. If the Dodgers can get ace Clayton Kershaw and newly acquired pitcher Rich Hill healthy, watch out cause this team could do some damage.

San Francisco Giants

Owners of an 15-27 record since the All-Star break, the San Francisco Giants have went from possibly the best team in baseball to a team that is battling to stay in the playoff picture. The Giants now have a 72-60 record (after Tuesday’s win) and trail the Dodgers by 1.5 games. One and a half games is no problem to overcome but considering their huge lead at the All-Star break, this may be a shock to the system.

Lead by Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, the Giants have one of the better starting rotations in the game of baseball. Bumgarner leads the team in ERA with a 2.49 and trails only Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks for the ERA lead in the NL. Cueto’s ERA is a tick higher at 2.98 but is still considered very good. The innings are starting to pile up for the big two at the top of the Giants rotation. Bumgarner has thrown 187.2 innings in 28 starts this season. Cueto is not far behind him with 184.1 innings pitched in 27 starts. These two workhorses can very easily handle the mounting innings totals but it could be something to keep at eye on as the season continues. Along with Bumgarner and Cueto, the rotation is also complimented with newly acquired Matt Moore and veteran Jeff Samardzija. Moore was brought over in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays at the trade deadline. He has been solid in 6 starts for his new club. In those 6 starts, he has an ERA barely over three with 36 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched.

If there is any problem with the Giants it is the lineup. They currently rank 21st in the league with a .404 slugging percentage and rank 15th in the league with 591 runs scored. A couple bright spots for this offense is that they rank 4th in OBP and 10th in batting average. Their offense is led by a trio of stars that have the ability to really take a leap forward. That trio is Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford. Posey leads the team with a .296 and has also clubbed 12 home runs and drove in 62 runs. Crawford has also hit 12 home runs while Belt leads the team with 14 long-balls this season.

The pitching has been there for the Giants this season but they would like to see more production out of a lineup that has many potential All-Stars in it. If the Giants can return to their form that they had before the All-Star break, every team in the national league better watch out.

Colorado Rockies

Ten games back in the West are the Colorado Rockies. Currently at 64-69, it looks as if the Rockies will not make the postseason as they are also 6.5 games out of the second NL wild card spot. As to be expected, the Rockies are in the top 3 in runs scored, batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage. These high numbers are usually attributed to the thin air at the Rockies home ballpark in Colorado. The ball tends to carry more in Colorado and that is much of the reason third baseman Nolan Arenado has 36 home runs and 115 RBI’s this season.

Arenado still has some work to do if he hopes to top his 42 homer and 130 RBI performance from a year ago. Along with Arenado, players like Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story are all having monster seasons. Story is now out with an injury and will likely miss the rest of the season but there enough production here for the Rockies to be very successful.

Colorado is great for hitting the baseball a long way but if you are a pitcher it can be your worse nightmare. If you think pitching in Colorado is easy, just look at the Rockies pitching stats. Their ERA leader is Tyler Chatwood who owns a 3.75 ERA in 22 starts this season. The next closest to this mark is Jon Gray who is pitching to the tune of a 4.41 ERA in 24 starts. After Gray, the next two closest starters ERA wise have an earned run average over 5.00. This terrible ERA among their starting staff has led them to have the 27th best team ERA in the majors at 4.86. The bad pitching statistics do not stop there; as a team their WHIP and batting average against also ranks 27th in the majors.

Some things can not be helped and pitching in a ballpark where the air is thin may be one of them. One thing is certain though; the Rockies will not make the playoffs if they can not figure out a way to pitch around the disadvantage that they face.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Eight games behind the Rockies and 18 games back of the Dodgers we find the Arizona Diamondbacks. Coming into the season, many people believed that the NL West was the Diamondbacks’ to lose. With the likes of Paul Goldschmidt and Shelby Miller, they looked nearly unstoppable. However, things did not pan out the way the front office had planned and the Diamondbacks find themselves firmly out of playoff contention.

When Arizona traded the number one pick in the 2015 draft to the Atlanta Braves for Shelby Miller, they did not expect the result that they received.

Miller has struggled this season and has even been shipped to AAA at times during the season. In 15 starts, Miller has a 6.81 ERA and a WHIP of 1.70. These stats have pretty much summed up the entire 2016 season for Arizona. Another pitcher who the Diamondbacks brought in that has struggled this season is Zach Greinke. After posting a 1.66 ERA in 222.2 innings for the Dodgers last year, the Diamondbacks decided to sign Greinke and make him their ace for the future. That plan also has not worked out the way the organization wanted it too. Greinke is pitching to a 4.17 ERA with 114 strikeouts in 136 innings. While he leads the team in ERA and wins, this is not the Greinke that Arizona fans were expecting when the team signed him in the offseason.

As for the offense, the Diamondbacks have had some success this season. Their offense ranks 12th in runs scored (604) and 7th in batting average (.263). Paul Goldschmidt is having another good year as he has posted 20 home runs and 78 RBI’s in 474 at-bats this season. His teammate, Jean Segura leads the team with a .318 average and has also hit 12 home runs and drove in 51 runs. Other players like Yasmany Tomas (leads the team in home runs with 27) and Jake Lamb have also had good seasons. It does not matter how many runs you score if you cannot get anyone out from the mound and right now, that is the problem for the Diamondbacks.

With a good core of players like Greinke, Miller, and Goldschmidt, there is no reason the Diamondbacks can not pull out of this funk and contend for the NL West next season. All it will take is some hard work this offseason to get them where they need to be.

San Diego Padres

With a record of 55-77, the San Diego Padres are bringing up the rear of the NL West. They are currently 18.5 games back for the division lead and have no hopes of making the playoffs this season. Producing runs has been a problem for the Padres this season as they rank 20th in the league in runs scored, 30th in batting average and 29th in OBP.

One bright spot in the Padres season has been first baseman Wil Myers. He has 23 home runs and 73 RBI’s so far this season. Myers is a piece that the Padres can build a contending team around at some point in the future. The Padres traded away one of their best offensive players in Matt Kemp earlier this season. That move signaled to many that the Padres are still in a re-build type mode.

With a team ERA of 4.50, the Padres pitching has been less than stellar so far this season. With a combination of poor pitching and poor hitting, this season has been another year of waiting till next season for Padres’ fans. It is assumed that through the draft, the Padres will continue to build their farm system with high draft picks following bad seasons. That plan worked for the Cubs over the last few years and now they own the best record in baseball. It would be smart for the Padres organization to follow the plan that the Cubs used if they hope to turn their team into a winning franchise in the future.

Check Back Next Week For A Full Breakdown Of The AL East