MLB Trade Deadline: How the NL Pennant Race Was Affected

JohnContributor IIIAugust 2, 2011

MLB Trade Deadline: How the NL Pennant Race Was Affected

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    With the deadline passed, trades are no more. Besides waivers, no more players will be switching teams for the time being.

    One of the big questions after the deadline is, how did the trades affect the teams? The Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers—the top five teams in the NL—all made some big trades. 

    Here's how they affected the pennant race.

1. Phillies Boost Their Already Cruising Team with Hunter Pence

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    Hunter Pence only added to the firepower of the NL favorite. His .305 batting average and 65 RBI should be a nice addition.

    The Phillies' rookie right fielder Domonic Brown went back down to Lehigh Valley, a small offensive loss but important for Brown's development. He should come up again next year because their RF Raul Ibanez's contract ends after 2011.

    The Phillies gave up minor league players for Pence. From the Phils perspective this was a great deal. Pence will be helpful by adding to the earlier slumping offense of the Phillies and backing up Howard in the lineup. His right-handed hitting breaks up the Phillies left-handed lineup and causes pitching changes late in the game for the opponent. 

2. Braves Even the Race Out a Little with Michael Bourn

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    After the Phillies added a strong bat, the Braves fought back with a trade for Michael Bourn. Jordan Schafer and three prospects were given to the Houston Astros for the center fielder. Bourn's .303 batting average is a great improvement over the earlier players, Schafer and Nate McClouth, who were hitting .230 and .240.

    This gives the Braves a lot more strength, but the Phillies got just as much with Pence. The NL East race may even out, however, as the season goes on.

3. Giants Try to Get an NL West Lead with the Addition of Carlos Beltran

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    Getting Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets was a great addition to the Giants on both offense and defense. His .283 BA and 67 RBI gives their offense a boost, and his .994 fielding percentage should help their fourth-to-last defense.

    The Giants also added infielders Jeff Keppinger and Orlando Cabrera, who aren't as good as Beltran but still add to the team.

    Minor league prospects were given up by the Giants, which could affect them long term but not as much this season. 

    The NL West is a close race, and Beltran may give the Giants a small advantage over Arizona.

4. Arizona Counters with Acquisition of Brad Ziegler

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    The NL West race was close, and it may have gotten even closer. Brad Ziegler adds his low 2.39 ERA this season to the Diamondbacks 4.01—one of the worst in baseball. Arizona gave up Jordan Norberto and Brandon Allen, two players who are nothing close to Ziegler's value.

    Unlike the Braves and the Phillies, the Diamondbacks and the Giants needed two totally different players for their teams. It may seem like this doesn't even out the race, because they are different positions. This does even out the race, in fact, because they still filled their weaknesses, whatever they may be, making both a better team. 

5. Milwaukee Widens Their Lead with Jerry Hairston Jr.

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    Getting Jerry Hairston Jr. was a small addition to the Brewers. The infielder is a .257 lifetime hitter. He gives a boost to their mediocre offense.

    Milwaukee gave up developing prospect Erik Komatsu for Hairston. This may impact the team a little in the future, but for now it was probably a good idea.

    The Brewers hope that Hairston is enough to pull ahead from the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals

How Did These Trades Affect the Pennant Race?

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    Here are the main trades that affected the top five teams in the NL:

    1. Phillies get Hunter Pence

    2. Braves get Michael Bourn

    3. Giants get Carlos Beltran

    4. Diamondbacks get Brad Ziegler

    5. Brewers get Jerry Hairston Jr.

    Were any of these enough to sway the pennant race? It seems that for each top team that got a great trade, their top competitor did too.

    The Phillies and Braves both getting outfielders may leave them back where they started in terms of NL East race, but I think that Pence is a great playoff guy, as opposed to the young and inexperienced Domonic Brown.

    The Giants and the Diamondbacks both filled different holes, and the West race should be decided by mostly the late-months performance of key players.

    The Brewers pulled ahead of the pack in the NL Central. I think they are pretty safe for now, but the Cardinals and Pirates have a chance to come back at any time.

    I guess we'll have to see how it all unfolds come October...