Circling the bases: NL West addition
The National League West is kind of like a big family. There are two siblings that everybody wants to talk about because they are the pride and joy, the middle child that never seems to be spoken about, the underachiever who is about to be sent off to boarding school, and the blacksheep.
The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are, of course, the prized children. It seems every year that these two teams are toward the top of the standings. Ironically, it is the Dodgers getting most of the publicity since Magic JOhnson’s group bought the team because they have been willing and able to sign so many high-priced free agents. Add that to home-grown talent like Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw, and you are the toast of the town.
However, just a few hours north in California, are the Giants. San Francisco got the Giants in 1958 when the team moved from New York, the same year the Dodgers came to the west coast. While Los Angeles was successful right away, winning a World Series in 1959, the Giants were always close but no cigar. Unless 2010 that is, when the Giants went on a streak of winning three World Series titles in five years.
Currently, San Francisco sits only 2.5 games behind their flashy counterparts in the division race, with seven meetings still between the two teams, including a late-September four-game set at AT&T Park. The Giants have a brutal schedule the rest of August with games against the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Dodgers, but get an easy slate in September. In fact, San Francisco will not face a team with a winning record that month until it faces Los Angeles in the final series of September.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are unquestionably the middle child. Most expected the Diamondbacks to lose 100 games this season and yet the team is 57-58. If Arizona can finish over .500, A.J. Hinch should be considered for Manager of the Year in his first season on the job. Outside of the incredible Paul Goldschmidt, most fans would be hard-pressed to name a single player on the team.
Then there is the kid destined for boarding school. The San Diego Padres were supposed to be a major factor in the National League this season. Nobody made more perceived upgrades in the offseason after San Diego acquired Wil Myers, Justin Upton and Matt Kemp for the outfield, along with catcher Derek Norris, closer Craig Kimbrel, and starter James Shields. Yet, somehow, this team is terrible.
Finally, we reach the blacksheep. The Colorado Rockies have more hitting than they know what to do with, yet never address the starting rotation. It continues to be the worst in baseball, and the front office seems fine with it. At some point, Colorado needs to invest in some ground-ball pitchers and be done with it.
Welcome to the wildest family in baseball.