It is safe to say that 2010 has not gone the way any of us have thought in the NL West. Well, mostly.
The Dodgers have performed pretty much exactly to what I figured and Arizona didn't rebound, as I thought. The Giants are doing alright. Those things don't surprise me. But that's all.
The Rockies have collapsed, leaving us speechless, to the delight of AZ SnakePit. But obviously, the biggest surprise is the Padres.
Let's get this straight. No one...NO ONE...predicted a division title for the Padres this season. I will own up to my words before the season:
They just don't matter this year. The offense is solid if not spectacular, the rotation is boring but has modest chances for improvement at the back end, and the bullpen is stout. But they won't contend.
Yet this morning in late August, they lead the division by more than any team has in the division - six games, a larger margin than every division leader other than the Texas Rangers. They are 25 games above .500 and are just three games behind the New York Yankees for the best record in Major League Baseball.
NL West Standings
It is an underdog story, and it has been undoubtedly irritating to watch that roster pile up the wins despite going 0-for-4 in series against the Rockies. But let's face it. They play the game the right way with no bad apples on the roster. The same mysterious forces that have allowed the Padres the success they have experienced this season are also responsible for the Rockies' fairy tale end to 2007. This kind of unpredictability makes this game fun to watch, admittedly much less so from the wrong end.
Lastly, I ask: is there a better candidate for Manager of the Year than Bud Black?
Team capsules after the jump.
NL West Report
Arizona (49-76, 5th, L1, 26.0 GB)
Last Week: 2-4. 0-3 vs. Reds. 2-1 vs. Rockies. The young rotation performed well over the weekend, as the Diamondbacks allowed just five runs to the Rockies over three games, led by Ian Kennedy, Barry Enright, and Dan Hudson.
You Should Know: Adam LaRoche has 78 RBI. That doesn't seem significant, but the Diamondbacks' franchise record for RBI by a 1B was set in 2004 by Shea Hillenbrand with 80. No joke. All jokes about the importance of RBI aside, it is one way of illustrating how spoiled Rockies fans are with Todd Helton. Helton has had 80+ RBI in 11 of 13 career seasons as a full time starter, including last season with 86.
Divisional Change: Lost 2.5 games to 1st place San Diego.
This Week: 3 game road series @ Padres. 3 game road series @ Giants.
News: The Diamondbacks have a horrible bullpen. That is not a new development. But one guy who has stayed in the pen all season long has actually had a decent season: Aaron Heilman. Of course, he is due to be a free agent this offseason, and Heilman is excited about being a FA. Don't count on Arizona retaining their one valuable pen piece.
#22 / Pitcher / Arizona Diamondbacks
Nov 12, 1978
|2010 - Aaron Heilman||4-4||55||0||0||0||6||6||57.1||55||25||24||7||22||43||3.77||1.34|
Transactions: Activated RHP Juan Gutierrez from the 15-day DL. Optioned RHP Rafael Rodriguez to AAA Reno. Signed LHP Mike Hampton and assigned him to AAA Reno.
Injuries: Leo Rosales has not allowed a hit in two scoreless innings in his AAA rehab with the Reno Aces.
Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries
Los Angeles (63-62, 4th, L1, 12.0 GB, 8.0 GB WC)
Last Week: 3-4. 0-1 @ Braves. 2-1 vs. Rockies. 1-2 vs. Reds. The Rockies must have left their disease at Dodger Stadium. Over the last seven games, the Dodgers have alternated wins and losses.
Divisional Change: Lost 2.0 games to San Diego and 1.5 games to Philadelphia in the wild card.
This Week: 3 game road series @ Brewers. 3 game road series @ Rockies. The Dodgers are one of six NL teams with fewer road wins than the Rockies.
News: The big news out of Dodgertown is the return of Vin Scully in 2011. He had been contemplating retirement. One of the reasons he cited for returning was Eric Young Jr.'s defensive play against the Dodgers last week. This from TrueBlueLA:
Scully said he went home that night, still excited that baseball can make him feel this way. So remember that, Dodger fans, if you ever want to boo EY2, think twice.
Scully then quipped a classic: "Now That They Have Rod Barajas, That Was The Clincher." The catcher was claimed off waivers from the New York Mets earlier.
Matt Kemp has been a polarizing figure in Los Angeles. TrueBlueLA has an interesting discussion about Kemp in this fanpost.
Injuries: Activated OF Manny Ramirez and RHP Jeff Weaver from the 15-day DL. SS Rafael Furcal received a cortizone shot Saturday in an attempt to return to the lineup soon. Placed RHP Travis Schlichting ton the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation. Vicente Padilla was placed on the 15-day DL 8/19 with a bulging disk in his neck (ouch!). Chad Billingsley tweaked his calf after grounding out Saturday but went on to pitch five more innings.
Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries
San Diego (74-49, 1st, W1)
Last Week: 5-2. 4-0 @ Cubs. 1-2 @ Brewers. Over the last four weeks, the Padres are 1-7 on Fridays and Saturdays.
Divisional Change: Gained 2.5 games on San Francisco.
You Should Know: So much for regression. The Padres had not led the NL West by more than four games all season, but they extended their streak to 6 games, representing the second largest division lead of any division leader in MLB.
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Diamondbacks. 3 game home series vs. Phillies. Wins in either series will clinch season series wins against both opponents.
News: A San Diego Padre set an MLB record this week, and you probably even forgot he was on the team. Matt Stairs clubbed his 21st career pinch-hit home run, passing Cliff Johnson.
#16 / Left Field / San Diego Padres
Feb 27, 1968
|2010 - Matt Stairs||57||73||11||15||5||0||3||12||7||27||2||0||.205||.272||.397|
San Francisco (69-56, 2nd, L2, 6.0 GB Div, 2.0 GB WC)
Last Week: 2-4. 1-2 @ Phillies. 1-2 @ Cardinals. The Giants have been outscored 45-19 over their last 7 games.
Divisional Change: Lost 2.5 games to San Diego, falling for 2 GB to 6 GB in the last two weeks. Lost wild card lead and now trail by two full games.
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Reds. 3 game home series vs. Diamondbacks. ESPN2 is carrying the Reds/Giants game tonight at 8:05 MDT. The Reds are 36-26 on the road.
#12 / Center Field /
Florida Marlins San Francisco Giants
Dec 23, 1980
|2010 - Cody Ross||120||452||60||120||24||3||11||58||30||100||9||1||.265||.316||.405|
Transactions: Released RHP Todd Wellemeyer. DFAed IF Matt Downs to make room for Cody Ross.
Injuries: Chris Ray was placed on the 15-day DL last week with a strained intercostal. Juan Uribe is day-to-day with a left foot injury. Dan Runzler has begun his rehab assignment. Activated LHP Jeremy Affeldt from the 15-day DL.