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NL West: Predictions
Over the past three weeks, Arizona has taken control of the National League West. I asked team bloggers from around the division whether they thought the Diamondbacks would hang on and what the NL West order of finish would be. Here's what they said:
Jim McLennan, AZ SnakePit:
I think it comes down to the Padres and D-backs for the title. The Dodgers are too far back and (until very recently) playing badly -- a fatal combination -- though I think the Rockies could still be involved, at least in the role of spoilers. I'm really glad we played them so much earlier on, as I do not fancy facing that lineup now.
Arizona is in the driver's seat, but I am concerned about our bullpen, with both Tony Pena and Brandon Lyon showing signs of fatigue of late. They've been crucial to our success, especially with us being involved in so many close games. But if they can stand firm, I present to you, your 2007 NL West Champion (and slayers of run differential as a predictive tool!) Arizona Diamondbacks.
Geoff Young, Ducksnorts:
I'll stick with my preseason prediction of Arizona, San Diego, Los Angeles, Colorado and San Francisco because I'm stubborn that way. The Diamondbacks get knocked by a lot of analysts for their poor run differential, but those are wins in the bank and, like Jim, I don't see them folding.
The Dodgers and Rockies will stick around a while longer, but with so many injuries to both pitching staffs, I'm not sure either has enough to reach the playoffs. I still like the Padres for the NL wild card.
Mark T.R. Donohue, Bad Altitude:
Lame as it might be to predict that the current standings order will be the final one, I don't see enough separation between the top three teams in the division to favor anyone either than the team with the advantage of the most wins in the bank. I've also been afraid all year that Arizona's young hitting would break through and pick up its pitching -- could still happen. San Diego's lack of a dominant middle-of-the-rotation hitter dooms it, I feel, and while Matt Holliday is the most dangerous offensive player in the division, Colorado isn't going anywhere with Elmer Dessens, Josh Fogg, and mere babes Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales in the rotation. The Dodgers obviously don't want anything to do with the playoffs, and the Giants' season effectively ended last week.
Andrew Grant, True Blue L.A.:
I considered the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Padres equals coming into this year, but I think it's time to drop the Dodgers from the discussion. Over the last 10 years, only four teams have come back from a deficit of more than a game and a half (at this point in the season) to make the playoffs, so even if you believe the Dodgers are due to improve, six and a half games is simply too much to make up.
If you break it down between the Diamondbacks and Padres, I think you have a dead heat. Arizona is on pace to have the best record ever for a team that has been outscored on the year, but as you get further and further into the season, regressions that should happen are less and less likely to occur. Meanwhile, the Padres main concern was depth, but they've dealt with that at the deadline by acquiring solid players like Morgan Ensberg and Scott Hairston.
If I had to pick a winner, I would say the Padres, because while the Diamondbacks have been underperforming offensively between Chris Young, Stephen Drew and Conor Jackson, they've been getting above-average performances out of pitchers like Doug Davis and Livan Hernandez, who have been overperforming based on their peripheral stats (walk rate, strikeout rate, and home run rate). When you combine that with an inevitable regression the team should experience thanks to their overperformance, I would bet that the Padres catch them as the season draws to a close. The final race for the NL West title should be very close between the Padres and the Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers, Rockies, and Giants will follow them.
Grant Brisbee, McCovey Chronicles:
I stopped following the NL West race when the Giants fell out of the race, which was in, oh, February. So I might be the wrong guy to ask.
Like most of you, I'm caught between acknowledging the Diamondbacks' luck and acknowledging that their offense should improve. Their young hitters have been super-prospects like Sean Burroughs instead of super-prospects like Grady Sizemore, and that should change.
If I'm going to concede an automatic offensive upgrade to the D-Backs, though, I should do the same with the Padres. They don't have a good offense, but they have some players who could improve from "wretched" to "tolerable." With that pitching staff, "tolerable" could get them to the World Series.
The Rockies' bullpen shouldn't be that good, and the starting staff is a lump of average at best, but replacing half of their lineup with an amphetamine-free Neifi Perez would still leave them with the best offense in the division.
I can count about seven hitters on the Dodgers who could be the No. 3 hitter on the Giants, and yet the Dodgers are still having trouble scoring runs. That reflects more on the Giants than the Dodgers, but it's tough to make up six games in the standings with a limp offense.
My guess: Padres, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Rockies, 1962 Mets, Giants
Labels: NL West
posted by SI.com | View comments |
To think that Arizona can finish first with such an inferior product is insulting to me as a Dodger fan, and to the game of baseball at large. They wouldn't just be invalidating the Run differential, but every other major team statistic. Also, to say there is not enough time to lose that lead is falderal, they built that lead in a lot less time then they have left, plus they are playing almost their entire last month against a collection of teams who are not only in their division, but against whom they are less than .500
I don't know what "falderal" means, but I guess it must be a synonym for "straw man", since nobody actually said that there wasn't enough time for Arizona to lose the lead.
As a Padres fan, I concur with my Dodger brother that we should be able to leap over the D'backs to take the lead. But I was most impressed with his use of the word "falderal"; causing me to look it up (as yogi might say), it means "foolishness". I knew baseball would always entertain but didn't realize my vocabulary would increase as well? ;)
SoCal fans can read the standings and weep... The Friars have no bats (Michael Barrett?!) and appear to be down the 'other' Chris Young... Peavy can't win this all by himself. And, by the way, nice work by Hoffman in NY... LA has a lot of nice parts but 6 games is a lot in 6 weeks. I suppose Dodger fans have figured out why the D-backs had to cut ties with Gonzo... It's really pedantic to call Arizona an "inferior product". As the original post explained, the D-backs seem to have just enough hitting, a better than expected rotation, and a very good bullpen. What's so insulting about that? Maybe for Dodger fans it's the fact that Ned Coletti can't build a contender with double the money AZ is spending.
And another thing for the stuck up LA fan... The D-backs have a 31-29 record against the teams remaining on their schedule. They are 7-4 vs. SD and have broke even with Col and SF. True, the D-backs are 5-7 against LA... but the smackdown that Arizona leveled on the Dodgers Aug. 3-5 IN LA shouldn't make you too smug. SD has a winning record against all their remaining opponents except AZ (who they play 7 more times). Both AZ and SD play contenders this weekend (Chi and Phi respectively). Assuming the 3.5 game lead holds, AZ goes into Petco for a 4 game set. The matchups go: Livan/Peavy, Webb/Germano, Maddux/Owings, then probably Davis/Hensley. Webb and Peavy probably win. Owings has been dominant recently and Maddux has been lousy against AZ. Davis is clearly better than Hensley right now... So, that series could easily go 3-1 D-backs... Then you have to argue that SD is going to overcome a 5.5 game deficit in a month without the 'other' Chris Young!? Right... Adavantage Arizona!
Using an obscure word to mean "mere nonsense" isn't impressive it's pretentious and superfluous at best, utterly vainglorious at worst. Get over yourself. The Dodgers are out of it.
And as a real Padres fan, how can any Padre fan be call a Dodger fan his brother?
As long as we're having this fun little vocabulary lesson, it's probably worth explaining that the word is best spelled "folderol." The "falderal" spelling, though closer to the word's etymological root in nonsense lyrics, is increasingly deprecated as an archaism.
If we're going to learn how to be pretentious, let's at least learn how to be pretentious *accurately*.
Oh - and the only race left in the NL west is the one to determine which of the D-Backs and the Padres will be the wild card team, and which will win the division.
O shut up, we have the best record in the N.L. Who cares about run differential we are finding ways to win games. The Dodgers are 6 in a half out so you can post a comment like that when you shake the Rockies
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