Race for the Postseason: NL West

Over the past weeks I have been previewing the race for the postseason. On Monday, I covered the NL East, and today I will be previewing the NL West. We will organize our discussion by the current standings.

Los Angeles Dodgers
65-50 | division lead

A year after Yasiel Puig burst onto the scene to help lead the Dodgers’ improbable comeback, LA is in control of the West, sitting 15 games over .500.

On the offensive side of the ball, Puig leads the team with a .316 batting average to go along with 13 home runs and nine triples. Including Puig, the Dodgers have 5 starters (Puig, Gordon, Kemp, Ramirez, and Gonzalez) batting .257 or better. All of this combines to give LA the eigth highest batting average in the majors at .257, as well as a 12th place rank in the majors in runs scored with 472.

The Dodgers rotation is led by Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is 13-2 and leads the league with an ERA of only 1.82. In addition to Kershaw, both Zach Greinke and Josh Beckett hold sub 3.00 ERAs. These stellar seasons have helped the Dodgers to a team ERA of only 3.34, good for fifth in the majors.

With the continued success of the offense and the domination of the pitching, LA is in the driver’s seat in the NL West this year. Don’t expect them to give it up.

Predicted Finish: 1st in NL West, 93-97 wins

San Francisco Giants
62-53 | 3 games back

After being 21 games over .500 on June 8th, the Giants have taken a serious fall, going 12 games under .500 since then, and losing the division lead to Los Angeles.

The main issue plaguing San Francisco has been the offense. Despite having four hitters currently batting .270 or better, the Giants have failed to produce runs, plating only 451, which is 18th in the league. Also, the overall team batting average is a paltry .244, which is 5th worst in baseball.

On the other hand, the Giants pitching has been extremely strong this year. Tim Hudson is leading the team with a 2.74 ERA and Madison Bumgarner leads his staff in wins with 13. The bullpen has also been extremely strong, with closer Sergio Romo having five wins and 22 saves in 27 chances.

Despite the Giants’ current offensive woes, they still sit only three games back from LA, and currently hold a Wild Card. Expect them to be in the race to the end.

Predicted Finish: 2nd in NL West, 88-91 wins

San Diego Padres
52-61 | 12 games back

Having the dubious distinction of having only 14 winning seasons in their existence, 2014 has been much of the same for the Padres, with the only bright spot being the pitching.

San Diego has benefited from one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. Their team ERA of 3.11 is second in the majors to Seattle, and their BAA is .234, which is fourth best in the league. All this is in spite of the fact that their big-name pitcher Ian Kennedy is 8-9 with a 3.59 ERA, and that they traded closer Huston Street to the Angels.

Padres bats have been unable to help out the strong performance the pitchers have turned in, though. San Diego ranks last in the league in runs, batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage. The only good hitter the Padres have is Seth Smith, who leads the team in average (.290), HR’s (12), RBI (34), OBP (.385), and hits (94).

The Padres would have been a legitimate contender had their bats managed to come alive. Unfortunately, they have not, and San Diego is headed for yet another losing season.

Predicted Finish: 3rd in NL West, 71-75 wins

Arizona Diamondbacks
49-65 | 15.5 games back

Arizona’s biggest issue this year has not been the offense or the pitching, rather it is their atrocious home record. Currently the Diamondbacks have a 23-37 record in their own park, giving them the dubious distinction of worst in the majors at home.

The offense is being led by last year’s runner-up in the NL MVP race, Paul Goldschmidt. Prior to his placement on the DL due to a broken hand, Goldschmidt was leading the Diamondbacks in batting average, HR, RBIs, OBP and hits. That loss will hurt a team that has already struggled so much to produce offense, as they rank 17th in runs and 14th in batting average.

Arizona’s pitching has been horrendous this year. The team ERA of 4.32 is 25th in the majors, and opponents are hitting .267 against them — sixth worst in the league. Josh Collmenter currently leads them with 8 wins, and a 4.09 ERA. The only other starter with qualifying innings, Wade Miley, has an ERA of 4.61.

Arizona’s already slim hopes this season evaporated when Goldschmidt went on the DL. They will likely finish in the bottom 10 in baseball.

Predicted Finish: 4th in NL West, 65-69 wins

Colorado Rockies
45-69 | 19.5 games back

Four seasons removed from their last winning record, the Rockies are as far away making the postseason as they’ve ever been.

The Rockies offense continues to produce runs at a prolific rate. Colorado’s batting average of .279 ranks first in the majors, and their total of 533 runs scored is third best in the majors. Troy Tulowitzki is putting out MVP numbers, batting .340 with 21 HR’s while having a WAR of 5.7.

Tulowitzki was our pick for the NL MVP at the midseason mark, but his current stint on the DL may hurt his chances, especially if he doesn’t return soon.

Colorado’s pitching has been abominable this year. They have the worst ERA in the majors, with a team ERA of 4.93, and they have a BAA of .278, which is second worst in all of baseball. Even with half of their games in the hitter-friendly Coors Field, these numbers are exceedingly poor.

Out of all the people who have pitched for Colorado this year, the lowest ERA is from Brett Anderson, at 2.91. But only Jorge de la Rosa qualifies for Cy Young voting, and is 11-7 with a 4.27 ERA.

Colorado’s season is over without a doubt. Now only two questions remain. Will they lose 100 games, and will Troy Tulowitzki win the MVP? We will have to wait to find out.

Predicted Finish: 5th in NL West, 60-64 wins

Tim Hanna is a contributing writer of Three for Ten Sports.

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