NL West Update
Here are the current NL West standings:
I had predicted Colorado, LA, Arizona, San Francisco, and San Diego, so kind of upside-down. But why?
The Padres have had a middle-of-the-pack offense but currently rank 3rd in ERA. Guys like Scott Hairston, Yorvit Torrealba, Chase Headley, and Will Venable are tearing the cover off the ball. Most are drawing their fair share of walks (save Headley) and not striking out too much (save Hairston and Venable). Their pitching staff looks like the 1993 Braves, as the relievers are striking out a hitter an inning while giving up very few home runs and walks; everyone but Sean Gallagher has pitched well. The starters are also pitching alright; Mat Latos has been victimized by walks and home runs and Jon Garland has walked too many hitters but gotten away with it. Wade LeBlanc doesn’t give up hits with runners on base (95.5% strand rate) and has yet to give up a home run; these two numbers are not sustainable. Overall, I think the continuing of the Padre hitters to exceed expectations is more important for them, but if their pitchers simply walked fewer hitters, they’d be a lot better off, particularly is a ballpark as forgiving as Petco Park. I’m very surprised the Padres have gotten off to this kind of start; if the hitters continue to hit like they did in April, they could be frisky come August and September. I still don’t think they are contenders though.
I would talk a lot about the Giants, but it’s the same story we’ve heard for years. Their pitchers strike out the fourth-most hitters and have given up the second-fewest home runs; with Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez pitching so well, opposing teams have to face 4 legitimate starters with good stuff. As good as they’ve been, they aren’t this good. The starters have a 0.193 batting average against, deflated thanks to a 0.246 BABIP. The team has stranded almost 79 percent of baserunners. They’ve gotten hot starts from half of their regulars, some of whom (Schierholtz, Molina, Renteria) simply cannot sustain it (apologies to Harry in the Haight).
The Dodgers have hit well but have been unlucky with respect to stranding runners, but their pitchers are walking too many hitters, partly because some of them (Padilla, Ortiz) suck. The Diamondbacks have scored a ton of runs but their starters have been bad and their bullpen is a disaster. By contrast, the Rockies bullpen has been awesome, hitters have been pretty good, and the starting rotation (outside of Ubaldo Jiminez – seriously, look at these stupid numbers) has been awful, walking almost as many batters as they strike out. Yesterday, Jhoulys Chacin took a spot in the rotation (in place of either Jason Hammel or Jorge de la Rosa) and proved why he’s been top-rated prospects for a couple of seasons. I still like the Rockies, because the starting pitching can’t get much worse, but this division is more wide-open than I thought it would be.