It’s the All-Star Break and time to grade teams based on their preseason expectations. Let’s dive into the National League West, one of the toughest divisions in baseball.
The NL West was expected to be among the most difficult divisions to win and it is shaping up to be a terrific race in the second half. The biggest surprise, though, is the team sitting in first place.
The San Francisco Giants have held a slim lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres, but that could certainly change. This division also features two of the worst teams, especially on the road, in baseball. You can place your wagers on BetUS online sportsbook.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- 2021 Expected Wins: 102.5
- Record (as of July 12): 55-35
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the reigning World Series champions and they were a popular pick to repeat again in 2021. Los Angeles was a clear favorite to win the NL West, but it is going to have to work hard to do it.
It’s hard to imagine a team that is 20 games over .500 as being a disappointment, but the Dodgers have been in some regards. This team has gone through some rough patches while forced to deal with some injuries.
The starting rotation for the Dodgers has continued to be terrific, but there have been some minor issues in the bullpen. Los Angeles has a team ERA of 3.14, which is the best in baseball.
Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer is currently away from the team and there is a chance that he could ultimately be suspended by MLB amid allegations of domestic violence. This would be a significant blow for the Dodgers, but there is some depth in the starting rotation.
Los Angeles has scored a total of 476 runs, which is the second-highest total in baseball. An injury to Corey Seager has taken a big bat out of the lineup, but there is still plenty of talent.
Max Muncy leads the team with 19 home runs and 52 RBIs, and Justin Turner is hitting .305. The Dodgers are still waiting for Mookie Betts to take off and that could make them even more dangerous.
With the current record of 55-35, the projected win total has fallen to 99.0 wins. Getting to 100 wins doesn’t seem likely for Los Angeles, which will likely fall just shy of the expected regular-season win total.
Even if the Dodgers fail to get to 100 wins, they are still the team that should win the NL West.
San Diego Padres
- 2021 Expected Wins: 94.5
- Record (as of July 12): 53-39
The San Diego Padres enter the All-Streak Break in third place in the division and that has to feel like a disappointment. San Diego was viewed as the biggest threat to the Dodgers and that could still be the case by the time the season ends.
This is a roster that is loaded with talent, and most of the big names have produced for the Padres. A COVID-19 outbreak early in the season provided some challenges, but San Diego has also struggled against some of the top teams in the league.
San Diego ranks 10th in total runs scored and some of the other offensive numbers are actually worse than that. The Padres will have to find a way to be a better scoring team in the second half if they are going to track down the Giants and Dodgers.
Fernando Tatis Jr. leads the way with 28 home runs and he is also hitting .286. Manny Machado has driven in a team-high 60 runs and he will be a key in the last few months of the year.
San Diego has a dominant starting rotation and the pitching staff has an ERA of just 3.41. The rotation is led by Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish, both of whom have an ability to shut down an opponent.
Musgrove has an ERA of 2.93 while Darvish has struck out a whopping 125 batters. San Diego is also a team that is aggressive at the trade deadline and it could add another big piece.
The Padres are projected to win 93.3 games, which is only a slight drop from the preseason. That’s not going to be easy in the NL West, but San Diego has the talent to do it.
The Padres will get hot and get to 95 wins, going just past the projected total.
San Francisco Giants
- 2021 Expected Wins: 75.5
- Record (as of July 12): 56-32
If you are looking for the biggest surprise team in baseball, look no further than the San Francisco Giants. They were expected to struggle again in 2021 with a roster made up of veterans that many consider to be past their prime.
That hasn’t been the case at all for San Francisco, which roared out to a 56-32 record. The Giants are going to get a strong push from the Dodgers and Padres in the second half, but this team looks like it might be able to hang on.
The starting rotation has really set the tone. The Giants have a team ERA of just 3.26 and they are holding opponents to a batting average of .220, the third-best mark in the league.
Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman has nine wins and also sports a terrific 1.73 ERA. Anthony DeSclafani leads the way with 10 wins, and both of these pitchers will be counted upon lead the charge in the second half.
Shortstop Brandon Crawford leads the Giants with 18 home runs and 58 RBIs, but he has received plenty of help. Catcher Buster Posey was selected to the All-Star Game after opting out of the 2020 season.
The Giants do not play in a really good hitter’s park, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the stats. San Francisco has terrific numbers in the power department, and that has to be the biggest surprise for the Giants.
With the great start to the year, San Francisco is now projected to win 103.1 games. The Giants aren’t going to be able to get to that number, but they are easily going to go over the 75.5 win total.
Barring a major collapse over the next few months, the Giants should find themselves in the playoff field in the National League. Winning the NL West Division might be a stretch, but a wild-card berth feels like a lock.
- 2021 Expected Wins: 73.5
- Record (as of July 12): 26-65
While the San Francisco Giants have been the biggest surprise in baseball this season, the Arizona Diamondbacks have been the biggest disappointment. Arizona had an expected win total of 73.5 games, but getting to 50 might be a stretch.
Arizona lost 24 straight road games at one point and it hasn’t been much better at home. The pitching staff has been absolutely brutal but several members of the lineup have struggled as well.
It’s only fitting that the Diamondbacks gave up 22 runs in the second-to-last game before the break. Arizona has a team ERA of 5.40 and opponents are hitting .274 against the team.
Merrill Kelly actually leads the team with an ERA of 4.46 and he has easily been the best starter for Arizona. The Diamondbacks continue to try a number of different pitchers on the mound, but they have all suffered similar fates.
Eduardo Escobar is having a big season for the Diamondbacks, leading the team with 20 home runs and 60 RBIs. Pavin Smith is hitting .a team-high 263.
The Diamondbacks are actually right around league average in a number of offensive categories, but they just can’t outscore their opponents. A big night from the offense is always canceled out by a bad pitching performance.
Arizona is now projected to win just 46.3 games and this roster could look very different in a few weeks. This is not going to be a fun second half for the Diamondbacks, but it can’t get much worse than the first half.
- 2021 Expected Wins: 63.5
- Record (as of July 12): 39-51
When the Colorado Rockies traded Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason, it appeared that this franchise was ready for a reset. While Colorado has not had a good season by any stretch, the team has actually been better than expected.
The Rockies have been great at Coors Field this season, but they are the worst road team in baseball. Colorado has managed to win just nine road games and three of those came in the last week before the All-Star Break.
The pitching staff for the Rockies has shown improvement, even though this team has an ERA of 4.60. Pitching in Coors Field is never easy, but the Rockies have gotten some great work from a few starters.
German Marquez leads the Rockies with an ERA of 3.36 and he has also picked up eight wins. This pitching staff still needs some more talented arms, but it has been more than serviceable.
Ryan McMahon, who leads the Rockies with 16 home runs and 47 RBIs, looks like a future face of the franchise. Trevor Story has had a disappointing season but injuries have played a role.
Colorado is projected to win 70.2 games, which is a significant jump from the preseason expected total. The Rockies should play much better on the road in the second half and they are easily going to surpass the 63.5 win mark in 2021.