NL West Report: Giants Win Disappointing, Still Decent Division

Someone card this joker.

As even the Yankees can attest this season, even a juggernaut payroll does not guarantee a division title in Major League Baseball.  When only eight teams reach the post-season in a 30-team league, even a great roster on paper can leave its fans disappointed come Game 162.  It takes a mix of good health, good performance and the fortune of more surprisingly good years for individuals than bad ones.

The San Francisco Giants fit the bill there more than any team in the NL West, and that is why they stand with their first division title in seven years.  As much as I may want to suggest some nefarious bamboozling and deceptive debauchery at AT&T Park, I feel confident that the Giants will represent the NL West in the postseason better than any of the other four alternatives.  Frankly, it isn't close.

The Giants got a career year from Andres Torres, career breakouts for Buster Posey and Jonathan Sanchez, and a rerturn-from-the-dead campaign by Pat Burrell to help carry San Francisco into the NLDS vs Atlanta Thursday.

As for the rest of the division, there has to be a huge sinking feeling for each of the teams' fans.

NL West Standings

W L PCT GB STRK
San Francisco 92 70 .567 0 Won 1
San Diego 90 72 .555 2 Lost 1
Colorado 83 79 .512 9 Lost 8
Los Angeles 80 82 .493 12 Won 2
Arizona 65 97 .401 27 Lost 2

(updated 10.3.2010 at 5:58 PM MDT)

 

  • The Diamondbacks lost more games in 2010 than any season in their existence except 2004, when they had the worst record in MLB.
  • The Dodgers saw a fairly predictable freefall come to fruition.  Despite a nice finish to the regular season, they are facing an offseason with the co-owners at the beginning of a horrifying divorce trial and a regular season with a rookie manager.  
  • The Rockies closed out 2010 with 13 losses in 14 games to fall from pre-season division favorites to a club that barely finished above .500, nine games out of the division.
  • The Padres had a surprisingly successful division, but they also suffered the seventh worst collapse in MLB history.  I'm guessing San Diego fans are disappointed.

Still, the NL West housed the top 3 MLB defensive teams per UZR (Diamondbacks, Giants, Padres), the top 2 NL pitching staffs per Fangraphs WAR (Rockies, Giants), the NL batting champion, a likely NL Rookie of the Year, four 200+ strikeout pitchers, and even in the most valuable middle infield combo in MLB (Drew/Johnson).

Three of the last four postseasons, the wild card has come from the division lovingly referred to elsewhere as the "NL Worst."  When the Padres got shutout yesterday afternoon, that trend was broken.  Despite what appears to be a poor year in the division, they have stacked up quite well against the rest of baseball's divisions in composite win percentage.

Division Wins Losses Win %
AL East 431 379 0.532
NL East 416 394 0.514
NL West 410 400 0.506
AL Central 399 411 0.493
AL West 312 336 0.481
NL Central 462 510 0.475

The NL West was second in 2009, and not surprisingly, they fell down a notch behind the NL East, led by the NL-best Phillies.  Still, the division the Rockies faced for 72 of their 162 games had the best composite record of any non-eastern division.   The NL West continues to be underrated, and I would not be shocked to see its representative host Game 1 in the World Series.

NL West Report

Arizona (65-97, 5th, L2, 27 GB)

Last Week: 5-1. 0-3 @ Giants.  1-2 @ Dodgers.   In addition to losing five of their last six games, they went 3-13 on the road after winning a series at AT&T Park at the end of August.

You Should Know:  By winning only one of their last six games, the 2010 team failed to beat the expansion team record of 65-97.  Only the 2004 club (51-111) had a worse record than this year's club.  They will have the 3rd and 6th overall picks in the 2011 draft.

Divisional Change:  Lost three games in the division.

This Week:  Offseason!

News: Buster Olney believes both Mark Reynolds and Adam LaRoche will be wearing different uniforms in 2011.  The Diamondbacks have struck out more than any team in MLB history, with Reynolds ranking first and LaRoche 4th in MLB.  New GM Kevin Towers has said it is a main goal to cut down on the strikeouts, so the writing is most certainly on the wall.

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
2010 - Mark Reynolds 145 499 79 99 17 2 32 85 83 211 7 4 .198 .320 .433
As Tom Krasovic says, the Diamondbacks considered trading Reynolds for 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff and RHP Vin Mazzarro from Oakland before Kevin Towers was hired, so it isn't just Towers that has soured on "Special K."  Krasovic also claims Arizona attempted to deal SS Stephen Drew for RHP Rick Porcello, but Detroit answered with a firm "no."  MLBTradeRumors discusses potential destinations for Reynolds.
Brandon Webb threw 20 pitches in a simulated game last week, but Webb's velocity was horrifyingly low.  From an Ed Price piece:
His fastball with good sink -- his trademark -- but only 78-82 mph. The scout said Webb's curve was "rolling" and his changeup was "good" but only 70-72 mph.

"Scary that that is all he's got after such long rehab," the scout said.

That scout might have been a Nationals scout, as Washington and Webb have "mutual interest" and the Nats sent a scout to watch.  He did improve his velocity in his second outing, but only to 81-83mph.
Ed Price also reports that Arizona will "overhaul their scouting department" with Jerry DiPoto overseeing it.  Also, all but two coaches will be replaced, with manager Kirk Gibson signing a two-year contract.
2010 first round pick and current free agent Barret Loux has started fielding free agent offers.

Transactions:  None.

Injuries:  Daniel Hudson was shut down for the season last Tuesday after a strained tendon in his middle finger.  Justin Upton was shut down for the year after lingering shoulder irritation.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brandon Webb shoulder 03/26/2010
Star-divide

Los Angeles (80-82, 4th, W2, 12.0 GB)

Last Week: 5-1.  3-0 @ Rockies.  2-1 vs Diamondbacks.  Los Angeles finished the season scorching.

You Should Know:  Hong Chih Kuo set a Dodgers ERA record for any pitcher with 40+IP....Brad Ausmus managed the Dodgers Friday, with Jamey Carroll getting the keys from Joe Torre for Saturday's game.

Divisional Change: Gained one game in the division.

This Week:  Offseason!

News:  Since 2007, Los Angeles as a city (Angels and Dodgers) utilized the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and Inland Empire 66ers.  That won't change in 2011, although they will switch clubs.  The Dodgers are trading the 66ers for the Quakes, with the Angels acquiring the 66ers.  At least the locals know to look for the prospects to make the big leagues with Los Angeles.

The Dodger blog Mike Scoscia's Tragic Illness asks if the Dodgers can trade Jonathan Broxton.  That would seem to me to be a serious mistake.  Broxton is clearly overworked and unnaturally talented.  While I wouldn't bet on him being the closer for the NL in the All-Star Game, he ought to bounce back in 2011.

Jonathan Broxton

#51 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-4

295

R

R

Jun 16, 1984

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Jonathan Broxton 5-6 64 0 0 0 22 7 62.1 64 30 28 4 28 73 4.04 1.48

The Dodgers won't be shopping Matt Kemp this offseason.  I'm pretty sure I've quoted someone as saying that eight times before.

Days after the Dodgers officially eliminated the Rockies from playoff contention, the Dodgers are giving some Rockies fans another gut punch.  Hitting coach Don Baylor, quite out of favor among a rather loud sector fans, is on the short list for the Blue Jays' managerial opening, but Bob Nightengale is reporting that Dodgers AAA manager Tim Wallach is "picking up steam" in Toronto's manager search.  Wallach is a hot name on the market after the Dodgers (foolishly?) locked in Don Mattingly as Joe Torre's heir.

Not even a surge to the playoffs wouldn't have convinced Torre not to retire.

Ken Rosenthal reports that Ted Lilly's agent is looking for a three-year contract.  This is notable, as Lilly could dictate the market for Jorge de la Rosa this offseason.

Eric Stephen's Month in Review centers around the horrid offense from the Dodger blue.

Albert Pujols submitted a list of four teams he would approve a trade to.  He isn't likely to be traded anytime soon - if at all - but the Dodgers are one team Pujols would be okay playing for.  So are the Marlins, Astros and Angels, so it's anyone's guess how serious Pujols is.  Sounds like an awesome practical joke to me.  

Transactions:  None.

Injuries:  No news.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Jay Gibbons calf 10/02/2010

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Travis Schlichting shoulder 08/22/2010

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Russell Martin shoulder 08/04/2010

Star-divide

San Diego (87-68, 2nd, L1, 0.5 GB Div, Lead WC)

Last Week: 3-4.  1-3 vs. Cubs.  2-1 @ Giants.  The Padres can blame their ten game losing streak for their collapse, but equally damaging was winning just one game in a four-game home series against the Cubs.

Divisional Change:  Lost a game and a half to both the Giants and Braves, sabotaging their playoff hopes.

You Should Know:  The Padres' collapse out of playoff contention is the seventh biggest team collapse of all-time, according to CoolStandings.com, the biggest since the 2007 Mets.  San Diego once held as high as 97.1% odds to make the playoffs at CoolStandings.  Padres' fans are trying to make the best of it.

News:  Buster Olney suggested before the weekend that the Padres might explore trading Heath Bell this offseason.  Bell has had a ridiculously good season and should be in line for a healthy raise from his $4million salary.  Mike Adams would slide into the closer's role, exactly mirroring the strategy of moving to Bell when Trevor Hoffman moved on to Milwaukee.

Heath Bell

#21 / Pitcher / San Diego Padres

6-3

250

R

R

Sep 29, 1977

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Heath Bell 6-1 66 0 0 0 47 3 70.0 56 17 15 1 28 86 1.93 1.20

The North County Times profiles Yorvit Torrealba's leadership.  Of note: Torrealba is tied for the team lead with 13 infield hits, with Jerry Hairston Jr and David Eckstein.  Grission overload!

Chris Young was injured all season long, yet the Padres rewarded his work by putting him right back in the rotation in the middle of the playoff race.  Young appreciated the opportunity and rewarded the Padres with the only win in the four game Cubs series.

With the Padres and Giants fighting head-to-head with the Giants on the line, Fox showed the Yankees/Red Sox game to a large part of the nation.  FanHouse recognizes the ridiculousness of the Yankees/Red Sox fascination.

Transactions:   None.

Injuries:  No news.

San Diego Padres Injuries

15-DAY

PLAYER INJURY TYPE INJURY DATE
Kyle Blanks elbow 05/18/2010
Jerry Hairston Jr. leg 09/21/2010

Star-divide

San Francisco (92-70, 1st, W1)

Last Week: 4-2.  3-0 vs. Diamondbacks.  1-2 vs. Padres.

You Should Know:  This marks the first time the Giants have won the NL West since 2003.

Divisional Change: Held serve with their half game lead in the division. The Rockies fell out of the picture, so it is a dogfight with the Padres.

This Week:  

  • NLDS Game 1: vs Braves in San Francisco. Thursday, October 7.  7:37 MDT.  Tim Lincecum vs. Derek Lowe
  • NLDS Game 2: vs Braves in San Francisco. Friday, October 8. 7:37 MDT.  Matt Cain vs. Tim Hudson
  • NLDS Game 3: vs Braves in Atlanta. Sunday, October 10.  Time TBA
  • News:  Jonathan Sanchez has quickly become known for brash, cocky predictions, particularly in circumstances in which has very little (or no) control.  After allowing four runs in four innings in Atlanta August 8, Sanchez guaranteed a sweep of the Padres the following weekend.  The Padres won the series.  But Sanchez didn't back down, saying this after yesterday's game:

    "I hit the triple," the pitcher said, "and I said, 'They're done.' "

    Jonathan Sanchez

    #57 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants

    6-2

    190

    L

    L

    Nov 19, 1982

    W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
    2010 - Jonathan Sanchez 13-9 34 33 0 0 0 0 193.1 142 74 66 21 96 205 3.07 1.23

    Never mind that Sanchez' triple came with one out in the third inning of a scoreless game, but after an Andres Torres strikeout, it took a seeing-eye groundball to actually give the Giants the lead.  In the first third of the game.  Cocky doesn't even begin to describe it, making comparisons of Sanchez to Jorge de la Rosa seem hysterical.  I hate to see that arrogance rewarded, but it doesn't take Isaac Newton to deduce that the Padres offense was anemic.

    Before the Giants/Padres series this last weekend, it looked as if the Padres were completely dead. As it turns out, San Francisco did win the the NL West on the season's final day.   It isn't as if Giants fans were confident though:

    Now instead of three in a row, the Padres have to beat the Giants four games in a row. Torture is still on the menu, but it's better to have that insurance policy than not have it.  

    One game. Win one more game in the regular season. Please. Just one.

    - Grant, McCovey Chronicles

    Naturally, McCovey Chronicles rejoiced upon winning the NL West yesterday.

    A week after I wrote of Pablo Sandoval's demise, the Kung Fu Panda has come out of hibernation just in time to spark the Giants' offense.

    The New York Times has picked up the pulse of the Giants, discussing the impact Buster Posey has made on San Francisco's offense.

    The Giants pitching staff had a 1.78 ERA in September, the lowest of any staff ERA in any month in 42 years and the fifth lowest in the live ball era.  The Elias Sports Bureau revealed several more records the Giants' pitchers attained in September.  

    Transactions:   None.

    Injuries:  That table below is an awfully good omen for the Giants in the playoffs, though it may catch up to them in 2011. *crosses fingers*

    San Francisco Giants Injuries

    No Injuries.

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