2011 MLB Playoffs: Forecasting the National League West Race (AUG 25)

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2011 MLB Playoffs: Forecasting the National League West Race (AUG 25)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 03: Orlando Cabrera #43 of the San Francisco Giants hits a two run double in the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park on August 3, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

This is shaping up to be the best-race of the year, with two teams looking to battle down the stretch for the right to square off against the mighty Philadelphia Phillies. How do the odds stack up for both teams? 

Here’s a look at the National League West:

 

 

 

Team

W

L

W-L%

GB

Rs/G

Ra/G

Dbacks

71

59

0.546

-

4.4

4.3

Giants

69

61

0.531

2

3.4

3.6

Rockies

63

68

0.481

8.5

4.6

4.6

Dodgers

60

69

0.465

10.5

3.8

3.9

Padres

60

71

0.458

11.5

3.8

3.8

 

 

Interesting how, according to run differential, the world champion San Francisco Giants rank dead last in the division in run differential. And yet, thanks in large part to a 29-19 record in one-run games, the Giants are right there in the division, well ahead of statistically better teams and just two games behind the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.

Those same Diamondbacks, by the way, have shocked the baseball world with their turn around this season, led mostly by a pitching staff that went from the bottom of the league to the middle in most pitching categories while maintaining their 4.4 runs per game from last season.

Ian Kennedy has emerged not only as a staff ace, but as a legitimate contender for Cy Young votes. Justin Upton, meanwhile, could be your National League MVP.

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Coolstandings.com basically gives the Diamondbacks a 2-1 shot at winning the division over the Giants.

And who can blame them?

The Diamondbacks sport by far the better lineup balance; whereas the Giants are second in the league in pitching and last in hitting, the Diamondbacks rank near the middle in both. The Giants recently lost All-Star closer Brian Wilson to the disabled list along with lefty starter Jonathan Sanchez.

In my mind, the Giants can and will flip this thing around.

For one thing, Carlos Beltran is finally back in the lineup, thus giving the Giants the offensive shot-in-the-arm that they will need to stay in contention.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 24: Carlos Beltran #15 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by Cody Ross #13 and manager Bruce Bochy after he hit a home run in the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park on August 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Secondly, the Giants open up a 10-day homestand starting with matchups against the two worst teams in the National League, the Astros and Cubs. With those teams coming to AT&T Park, the Giants should be looking at six wins in seven games. The next three games will be against the very Diamondbacks they need to beat to earn the division crown.

Arizona does not get to face either of these two teams—their only remaining inter-divisional games after tonight’s game in the nation’s capital are a three-game set against the much more formidable Pirates.

Thirdly, both teams square off almost exclusively against National League West opponents down the stretch. The Giants have a much better record (29-18) against this division than the Diamondbacks (23-21) do, and I have a feeling that this will manifest itself down the stretch.

The smart money is to bet on the Diamondbacks coming out on top.

I’m apparently not smart so I’m going to give the edge to the Giants, with both teams ending up somewhere in the mid-80’s in victories.

 

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