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NL West: The 2nd Best Division in MLB

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The NL Worst.  The NL Weak Division.  We've heard it all.  After a 2007 NLCS matchup pitting two West teams, we hoped that would change, but a brutal 2008 revitalized that reputation. With San Diego set to field an epicly bad team coming into the 2009, the division's reputation didn't get better in the eyes of many.

Times have changed.  Don't believe what your TV says. The Mets and Phillies can eat my shorts.  Outside of the AL East and their monstrous payrolls, the best baseball is being played in the West.  Here's some fun factoids for you:

  • 9 teams have 50 wins.  3 are in the AL East, 3 in in the NL West, and one each in the AL West, NL East, and NL Central.
  • 7 teams have a run differential of +40 or more.  3 are in the AL East, 3 in in the NL West, and one in the NL East.
  • Only one division has 4 teams above .500 in extra inning games.  The Rockies are the lone outlier at 0-4.
  • 4 teams have 30 home wins.  2 are in the AL East, 2 in the NL West.
  • 3 teams have at least 27 road victories.  2 are in the NL West, one in the NL East, and NONE in the AL East.
  • 6 NL teams were .500 or better in interleague.  3 of those are in the NL West.
  • T3 of the top 4 teams in the NL by win percentage are in the West.
  • The best team in MLB is in the NL West.

Okay...that's pretty convincing I suppose.  However, I guess if we are going to evaluate the division as a whole, the above factoids only take into account the top teams in each division and ignores depth.  Here's the average win percentage and Pyth WP for each division:

Division WP Pyth WP
AL East .539 .541
NL West .510 .505
AL West .519 .500
NL Cent. .500
.492
AL Cent. .470 .484
NL East .465 .472

Let's just consider the fact that only 3 teams are 15+ GB in their division, and two are in the NL West.  Those two barge anchors are weighing down our speedboat.  Just for fun, and because it makes us look better (plus, it provides a good argument for postseason threats), let's just look at the top three teams of each division.

Division  Top 3 WP Top 3 Pyth WP
AL East .584 .573
NL West .575 .571
AL West .551 .520
NL East .522
.515
AL Cent. .520 .520
NL Cent. .516 .518

This is not meant to be a complete, defended thesis here, as it does not take into account strength of schedule and other jazzy things.  It's a snapshot of the standings, and the NL West represents extremely well.  Also, while their smaller division provides more of a sample size issue, the AL West is coming in third as a division.

Forget the fact that Brad Hawpe's 0-for-2 night at the All-Star Game may have been the most impressive of any NL West player at the Midsummer Classic.  Quite frankly, the West is second best.  And with all the coverage and payroll in the AL East, that's not half bad.

 

Three Big NL West Headlines

Russ highlighted an NL West Round Table in this morning's Rockpile.  AZ Snakepit has it posted as well - while it hasn't ignited any real discussion, maybe there will be reaction there eventually.  No other NL West Blogs have posted the chat yet, but I'll update if they do.

Felipe Lopez was traded to Milwaukee yesterday for two C-level prospects despite his continued wishes to stay in Arizona.  This move could affect the Rockies' wild card hopes, though the contending Brewers are only moderately upgrading their production at second base if at all.  Check the gains from Craig Counsell's season thus far (.334 wOBA, 102 OPS+) to Lopez (.342, 101).  Fangraphs' Erik Manning evaluates the trade.  Ryan Roberts and Augie Ojeda will platoon at second.

Jason Schmidt will start for Los Angeles tonight for the first time in over 25 months.


NL West Report

Arizona (39-53, 4th, L1, 19 GB)

Last Week: 1-2 @ Cardinals.  Lost 0.5 games in the NL West.  Justin Upton was 0-for-2 and badly misplayed what became the winning run in the ASG.  Dan Haren allowed a hit in a scoreless inning. 

This Week:  3 game road series @ Rockies.  4 game home series vs Pirates.

The NL West continues after the jump.

NL West Report

Arizona (39-53, 4th, L1, 19 GB)

News:  If you want more on the Felipe Lopez trade, here are the reactions on AZ Snakepit, from BrewCrewBall and at MLBTradeRumors as well.  Nick Piecoro of AZcentral weighs in.  It's probably a positive move for both sides.

Felipe Lopez

#3 / Second Base / Milwaukee Brewers

6-0

205

B

R

May 12, 1980

Arizona could revisit an Eric Byrnes for Julio Lugo swap.

Despite being part of trade rumors most of the season, Doug Davis suspects he may get an extension.

Josh Whitesell got the call to the majors for the third time this season.  He'll get the shot to be the every day first baseman.  After torching AAA the last two years, this may be his last chance to prove to Arizona he's not a Joe Koshansky.

MLB.com's Barry Bloom has an interesting article on the payroll stability of the Diamondbacks after paying off several large contracts.

There is no new DL news to report.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Eric Byrnes hand 06/26/2009
Chris Snyder lower-back 06/21/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Tom Gordon hamstring 05/04/2009
Conor Jackson pneumonia 05/12/2009
Brandon Webb shoulder 04/07/2009

Star-divide

Los Angeles (58-34, 1st, W2)

Last Week: 2-2 2-2 vs Astros.  Last week I said:

Houston has quietly climbed to .500 and sits just one game below .500 on the road, so this series isn't necessarily as cupcakey as one might think.

Word.  The Dodgers were held to one run in the first two games and forced to win the final two games to avoid their third home series loss of the season.  Chad Billingsley gave up a run on two hits in the ASG and earned a blown save.  Orlando Hudson saw two pitches, singled on one and stole a base.

This Week: 3 game home series vs. Reds.  3 game home series vs. Marlins

News: Chad Billingsley got rocked by the Astros.  The Dodger ace is really struggling of late and is 11th on BP's abuse list.  He has gone six starts without a win.  In his past five starts, he has an ERA of 7.94, has allowed 5+ runs in 3 times, and has allowed 7 HR, including at least one in each start.

Chad Billingsley

#58 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-1

245

R

R

Jul 29, 1984

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2009 - Chad Billingsley 9-5 3.76 1.28 119 55
 

The Dodgers need bullpen help and are eyeing multiple Reds relievers as well as Oriole George Sherrill

Joe Torre talks about his tentative plans to retire after next season at age 70.  Also, Torre wants Roy Halladay.  I don't blame him.  He hasn't won a world series in 9 years and won't hhave to worry about the ill effects of the future if they can't re-sign Doc once he retires.

I suppose it was a matter of time.  Russell Martin is no longer ice cold and is lukewarm to warm in July.

Guillermo Mota has been more effective than expected.  Eric Stephen investigates. 

Check out TrueBlueLA's Week in Review.

Cory Wade was put on the 15day DL with a shoulder strain, and Blake DeWitt was recalled.  Orlando Hudson left yesterday's game with an injury to his surgically repaired wrist, but the injury is not expected to be serious.  Eric Milton is likely done for the year after having a herniated disc removed from his back.  Hong-Chih Kuo might be activated today.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Orlando Hudson wrist 07/20/2009

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Will Ohman shoulder 05/28/2009
Jason Schmidt shoulder 03/30/2009
Cory Wade shoulder 07/16/2009
Xavier Paul knee 05/21/2009
Ronald Belisario elbow 07/06/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Doug Mientkiewicz shoulder 04/17/2009
Hong-Chih Kuo elbow 04/30/2009

Star-divide

San Diego (37-55, 5th, L1, 21 GB)

Last Week: 1-3.  1-3 vs. Rockies.  Lost 1 game in the NL West.  San Diego scratched out oly 8 runs in the four game set.  Adrian Gonzalez walked in his only PA of the ASG, and Heath Bell was saddled with the loss after giving up a triple and sac fly.

This Week: 3 game home series vs. Marlins. 1 road make-up game @ Phillies.  3 game road series @ Nationals.

News: Traded reliever Cla Meredith to Balitmore for infielder Oscar Salazar.  San Diego's weakest infield position is second base, but Salazar hasn't played there in the majors in seven years. Reaction from the Baltimore Sun.  And a baffled reaction from the Padres' side.

Oscar Salazar

#0 / First Base / San Diego Padres

6-0

195

R

R

Jun 27, 1978

Ken Rosenthal says Heath Bell and Adrian Gonzalez are staying in San Diego for the rest of the season but could be traded in the offseason.

Jake Peavy is no longer in his walking boot and could be back in a month.

Kevin Towers talks about possible moves in an audio interview.

As I'm sure you know from the weekend, Ryan Webb was optioned in favor of OF Drew Macias, and RHP Mat Latos was called up in favor of reliever Josh Banks.

There is no injury news to report other than that Edgar Gonzalez has been released from the hospital after getting hit in the head with Jason Hammel's fastball.  He is on the disabled list while he recovers competely, which is expected.

San Diego Padres Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Jake Peavy ankle 06/09/2009
Chris Young shoulder 06/15/2009
Nick Hundley forearm 06/18/2009
Brian Giles knee 06/19/2009
Henry Blanco hamstring 07/05/2009
David Eckstein hamstring 07/06/2009
Edgar Gonzalez other-excused 07/19/2009

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

Star-divide

San Francisco (50-41, 2nd, W1, 7.5 GB)

Last Week: 1-2.  1-2 @ Pirates.  Lost 0.5 games in NL West.  San Fran allowed just 8 runs in the series but only scored 5 runs themselves.  Indicative of the second half?  I hope so.  Tim Lincecum allowed two runs, one earned on two hits with just one strikeout in two innings of the ASG.  Matt Cain did not suit up due to injury.

This Week: 4 game series @ Braves, 3 game series @ Rockies.  Let's hope the Gnats are licking their wounds coming to Coors Friday after 7 road games in 7 days on the east "coast."

News:  The majority owner of the Giants, Sue Burns, died from complications due to lung cancer yesterday.  She was just 58, and had been diagnosed with the condition just nine days before.

Should Barry Zito be released?  One bay area columnist thinks Brian Sabean should consider it after the season.  SI's Jon Heyman says Sabean is having his best year on the job.

The Giants have a glut of outfielders, just like the Rockies.  The only difference is that the Rockies have at least 4 that should be starters, while San Fran has less than three.

Barry Zito

#75 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants

6-4

205

L

L

May 13, 1978

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Barry Zito 5-10 19 19 1 0 0 0 112.1 111 61 61 13 44 84 4.89 1.38

As Rox Girl noted in the utmost classy way Friday, Buster Posey was promoted to AAA.  He went 2-for-13 against the Sky Sox over the weekend, including a double, which was still hit like a 4-year-old girl.

Matt Cain is fine, as evidenced by his 7 IP one-run effort over his ASG replacement yesterday.  There is no injury news to report, and the Giants only transaction was the release of Keiichi Yabu.

San Francisco Giants Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Randy Johnson shoulder 07/06/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Noah Lowry ribs 03/27/2009
Kelvin Pichardo shoulder 06/28/2009
Joe Martinez concussion 04/10/2009