NL West Report: Final standings taking shape

There are two weeks left to play this season.  Ironically, we already have a very strong idea how the final standings in the National League West will shake out, at least in terms of order.  The space between teams in the division has stretched to the point nearly of no return.

In the last week, the Dodgers and Rockies strengthened their grasp on their respective positions, while San Diego created a little more distance from the fading Diamondbacks.

For a mathematical look, here's a handy standings table.  The %+1 column indicates the probability the team will move up one slot in the standings.  %-1 indicates the opposite.  SAME represents the probability the team will stay in the same spot.  For all practical purposes, the Giants cannot win the division, and they are the only team mathematically alive to move two places in the standings (and consequently, the Dodgers as well).  

The percentages were calculated by analyzing SportsClubsStats' odds final standings probability distribution, which should be noted exhibits smaller variances than Baseball Prospectus. (For instance, Prospectus gives the Rockies twice the chance to win the division as SCS).  However, given the extra detail SCS gives, that' what I used to calculate probabilities.

NL West Standings

W-L GB %+1 %-1 Same
Los Angeles 90-60 - - 0.8% 98.5%
Colorado 85-65 5 0.8% 1.1% 98.1%
San Francisco 80-69 9.5 1.1% 0% 98.9%
San Diego 68-82 22 0% 9.9% 90.1%
Arizona 65-85 25 9.9% - 90.1%

(updated 9.20.2009 at 11:13 PM MDT)

No team has odds greater than 10% to move from their current position, and ignoring mathematics, San Diego would appear to have a better chance than even that 90% at retaining their 4th place position.  The Padres have not had a losing week in the last month, while Arizona is stumbling through a 5-13 September.   

There doesn't appear to be a whole lot of drama here folks.  We are two weeks out, and the final standings are starting to look very clear.  In fact, chances are about 86% that the order will come out on October 5 exactly as they do this morning, and more than half of the doubt comes from the inconsequential repositioning of the bottom two teams.  

Find out about the NL West after the jump.

NL West Report


San Francisco (80-69, 3rd, L2, 9.0 GB in Div, 4.5 GB in WC)

Last Week: 3-3.  2-1 vs Rockies. 1-2 @ Dodgers.  The Giants were inches from being 1.5 games behind, but their failure to close the Rox series and beat Los Angeles completely nullified those first two games they won against the Rockies.  Since August 28, San Francisco is 2-0 in series against Colorado, 1-4 against the rest of the NL.

Pace:  87-75 (No change).

Divisional Change:  Lost 2.0 games in NL West (LAD), No change in WC (COL), though making up no ground cost them a 2.1% chance of making the playoffs.

This Week: 3 game road series @ Diamondbacks, 4 game home series vs Cubs.  While the Rockies spar with the hot Padres and strong Cards, San Francisco absolutely must make up ground this week with the lighter schedule, or they'll be out of the playoff chase by the next installment of NL West Report.

News:  Obviously, the biggest story was the detention of 19-year-old Angel Villalona in connection with a murder in the Dominican Republic Saturday night.  For more information, check out articles at the San Francisco Chronicle or at MLB.com.

Angel Villalona

#31 / First Base / San Francisco Giants

6-3

200

R

R

Aug 13, 1990

Villalona could be facing 20 years in prison if convicted, which would obviously kill his career.  The first baseman was ranked as the Giants' #3 prospect prior to the season behind Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey.  Given that both Bumgarner and Posey have both surfaced in the minor leagues this season, Villalona represented the top prospect left in the minor leagues.  He played in last year's Futures Game and was a Baseball America top-50 prospect league-wide.  This would be a huge blow to an organization that traded away their #4 and #9 prospect as well as seeing their top arm struggle with injuries and velocity issues.  Plus, I hear Buster Posey has just one hit all month.

A quote from the team's official statement:

"The Giants were disappointed to learn that there was an incident in the Dominican Republic last night in which an individual was killed and one of our Minor League prospects, Angel Villalona, may have been involved" - Chris Haft, MLB.com

I'm not sure "disappointed" is quite colorful enough of an adjective.  Here is McCovey Chronicles' reaction.  Some seem to hope it is reminiscent of Juan Uribe's feud in 2006.  Unlikely.  Villalona voluntarily turned himself in yesterday.  

In other news, Brian Sabean appears to have gotten himself an extension.  According to Andrew Baggarly, finishing strong could seal the deal.  Sabean had a poor record, and though he improved this season, trading from Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Garko proved predictably to be underwhelming moves.

Juan Uribe is having a surprising season in San Francisco, and partly for that, he is irrationally loved.

There were some rumblings of the Giants wanting to acquire Prince Fielder.  San Francisco refuses to part with their thinning crop of prospects, so the most logical match is Matt Cain.  Interesting move there.

After pitching very well recently, both Tim Lincecum and Brad Penny were shelled by Los Angeles over the weekend.

Transactions:   Outrighted RHP Osiris Matos to the minors.  

Injuries: Activated LHP Randy Johnson from the 60-day DL.  To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the club moved RHP Justin Miller to the 60-day DL.

San Francisco Giants Injuries

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Justin Miller elbow 09/13/2009
Noah Lowry ribs 03/27/2009
Kelvin Pichardo shoulder 06/28/2009
Emmanuel Burriss foot 09/01/2009
Henry Sosa shoulder 08/05/2009

 

Arizona (65-85, 5th, L3, 25 GB)

Last Week: 3-3. 2-1 @ Padres. 1-2 vs Rockies.  The Diamondbacks did what no playoff contender recently could, defeating the Padres in a series.  However, their successful week fell apart late, fitting given the two close games turned blowouts from Saturday and Sunday.

Pace: 70-92 (No change from last week)

Divisional Change: Lost 2.0 games on LAD.

This Week: 3 game home series vs Giants, 3 game home series vs Padres.  Chase Field will close down for the season before October literally.  Sunday's game against the Padres will be the last home game for the Snakes.

News:  Arizona could save big money re: Mark Reynolds.  It appears the third baseman will fall short of achieving "Super Two" status this year, which would prolong his arbitration eligibility one year, thereby saving the Diamondbacks over $3million.  Reynolds has been such a constant force and has already set records (albeit in strikeouts) that it's easy to forget that he hasn't been in the league for very long.

Mark Reynolds

#27 / Third Base / Arizona Diamondbacks

6-2

220

R

R

Aug 03, 1983 

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Mark Reynolds 143 533 91 142 28 1 42 97 73 203 24 9 .266 .358 .559

Conor Jackson's season is over after he ended his comeback bid after three games.  Jackson is prepping for 2010, hoping he shows enough promise to be retained by Arizona.

Steve Gilbert answers questions in his latest inbox.  First question:  What is fate of catcher Montero?  As suspected, he is seen as the absolute starter going forward.  Also, Gilbert touches on the likelihood of Brandon Webb's $8.5million option being picked up.

Nick Piecoro also touches on this, noting that the D-Backs won't decide on Webb soon.  They will have until 5 days after the World Series concludes to decide, and they are hoping the progress he makes (or doesn't make) makes for an easier decision.  It is possible they will offer him a one-year deal below the $8.5million option year.

Doug Davis is a very loyal pitcher.  With free agency looming, Davis suggests he would be open to re-joining Arizona or Milwaukee.

Transactions: None.

Injuries:  Conor Jackson played just three games before he had to shut it down, so he will not return this season.  He'll join an instructional league tomorrow to scrape off a glut of rust.  In the last 51 weeks, CoJack has less than 100 big league AB's.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Chris Snyder lower-back 08/23/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Chad Qualls knee 08/31/2009
Conor Jackson pneumonia 05/12/2009
Brandon Webb shoulder 04/07/2009

Star-divide

Los Angeles (90-60, 1st, W2)

Last Week: 5-1. 3-0 vs Pirates. 2-1 vs Giants.  Los Angeles took a series from the Giants for consecutive weekends, helping to spread the distribution in the standings in the top three slots.  Los Angeles has just three home games left.

Pace: 97-65. (No change)

Divisional Change: Gained 2 game lead on COL.

This Week: 3 game road series @ Nationals, 3 game road series @ Pirates.   Los Angeles has arguably the easiest week on the road there is.  They'll face the National League's worst two teams, who have the worst and 5th worst NL home record, respectively. 

News:   Ken Rosenthal mentioned in this Fox Sports video that the Dodgers' playoff rotation will start with lefties Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw, which should help against lefty-heavy Philadelphia or St. Louis, who has a strangely low OPS vs. LHP this year.  The two would then be followed by Hiroki Kuroda and then either Vicente Padilla or Jon Garland.

You might notice a big name missing from that mix - supposed ace Chad Billingsley, who has had a terrible second half (3-6 with a 5.49 ERA after the All-Star break.  Joe Torre says that faulty mechanics are at heart of Billingsley's woes, more specifically that he is rushing his delivery, a flaw that isn't surprising for a young frustrated hurler.

Sample sizes can make general managers look like idiots - or they can make them look like geniuses.  The latter has occurred for Ned Colletti after Ronnie Belliard's hot has found even Orlando Hudson resting on the bench more.  Belliard wasted no time in sending a gutpunch to San Francisco's playoff hopes Saturday when he clubbed a grand slam off Brad Penny in the first inning, the first of three Los Angeles cashed in on Penny.

Ronnie Belliard

#3 / Second Base / Los Angeles Dodgers

5-10

210

R

R

Apr 07, 1975

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Ronnie Belliard 18 57 6 17 4 0 4 14 3 13 1 0 .298 .333 .579

In limited duty, Belliard has given the Dodgers a very strong 5.7 RAR (runs over replacement), production that by himself completely squashes both Giants' deadline acquisitions combined.  Freddy Sanchez (1.8) and Ryan Garko (-4.3) equate to -2.5 RAR.  MLB Rumors discusses how this affects Belliard's value going forward.

In spite of Ned Colletti's big free agent acquisitions (Manny Ramirez and Randy Wolf) along with quiet successes like Belliard, some don't believe Colletti should be retained when he becomes a free agent this offseason. There's legitimate claim there.  Almost $0.2billion in contracts were given to Jason Schmidt, Juan Pierre, Rafael Furcal and Andruw Jones, and Colletti failed to land a notable starting pitcher at the deadline. The Los Angeles blog Dodgers Rumors ponders: Is The Ned Colletti Era Coming To an End?

Transactions: None.

Injuries:  Clayton Kershaw, who separated his right shoulder, will return to the Dodgers Wednesday....to the bullpen.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Will Ohman shoulder 05/28/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Xavier Paul ankle 05/21/2009
Jason Schmidt shoulder 08/06/2009
Eric Milton lower-back 06/28/2009

Star-divide

San Diego (68-82, 5th, L2, 22.5 GB)

Last Week: 4-2.  2-1 @ Giants, 2-1 vs Rockies.  The Padres haven't had a losing week since August 17-23, four weeks ago.  In spite of their success, San Diego was assured of a losing season with their Friday loss at Pittsburgh.

Pace: 73-89 (+1).

Divisonal change: No change.

This Week: Last game of 4 game road series @ Pittsburgh tonight.  3 game road series @ Rockies.  3 game road series @ Diamondbacks.  Sunday's game in Arizona represents the Padres final road game.

News: There isn't a whole lot of news going around the Padres' camp, but what there is predictably centers around the team's future.

For those that are still masochistic, check out more and more praise for rookie Everth Cabrera.  Despite leaping organizations and making the jump from Single-A, Cabrera has posted a 104 OPS+ and .332 wOBA in MLB's most-pitcher friendly park.  Not even Rox Girl could have predicted this.

Everth Cabrera

#1 / Short Stop / San Diego Padres

5-9

170

B

R

Nov 17, 1986

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Everth Cabrera 91 331 54 89 17 7 2 30 42 74 24 6 .269 .354 .381

Corey Brock went mad this week, writing multiple Cabrera stories.  Here's one.  And here's another.

With Cabrera as a cornerstone of the infieild, the Padres are optimistic about 2009 progress, as well they should be.  They have been a legitimately strong club in the past month in spite of playing in a "shoddy division."  Oh wait. 

Via twitter, we learn that Kyle Blanks is done for the year, giving time to let his injured arch heal.  The rookie posted a noteworthy 137 OPS+ in 172 PA's this year.

Transactions: Called up OF Luis Durango and RHP Ernesto Frieri.

Injuries:  Activated RHP Mike Adams from the 15-day DL.  Kevin Kouzmanoff, who has been out since Sept 8 with a strained calf, may return to action today with San Diego.

San Diego Padres Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brian Giles knee 06/19/2009
Kyle Blanks foot 08/29/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Mark Worrell elbow 03/27/2009
Cha Seung Baek forearm 03/30/2009
Shawn Hill elbow 04/26/2009
Chris Young shoulder 06/15/2009
Cliff Floyd shoulder 06/18/2009
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