The Arizona Diamondbacks have surprised everyone to be first in the NL West and seven games over the San Francisco Giants. The team has shown they aren't going away anytime soon and should be the favorites to win the NL West.
Solid performances from veterans like Justin Upton, Miguel Montero and Chris Young, plus the surprising contributions from newcomers like Ryan Roberts and Paul Goldschmidt have the D-Backs primed for postseason play and ready to make some noise. Read on for four reasons why the Diamondbacks will win the NL West over the San Francisco Giants and play in the postseason for the first time since 2007.
The Diamondbacks have a noticeably easier schedule than the Giants, allowing more margin for error down the stretch. I'm not saying the D-Backs can slack off in the last couple weeks, but they should coast right through to the finish line.
The Diamondbacks still have series against the San Diego Padres (twice), LA Dodgers (twice), Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies and the Giants. Out of the remaining series, only the Giants are above the .500 mark. The Giants still have series against the Padres (twice), Dodgers (twice), Rockies (twice) and the D-Backs.
At first glance, both teams seem to have similar remaining schedules, but the Giants actually have the tougher schedule. They have 13 road games left, including a three-game series against the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks have 13 home games left, with the last nine games of the season all at home.
In August, the Diamondbacks and Giants played like polar opposites. The D-Backs were 19-10 and winners of nine straight games, while the Giants were 11-18 and couldn't find any kind of offense. This is the right time for a team to get hot, and the Diamondbacks know the importance of the position they're in.
With a seven-game lead and the D-Backs playing consistently well, the Giants are either going to have to play very, very good baseball to catch up or hope the D-Backs slip. Nowadays, the Diamondbacks have a type of swagger around them, and it's not looking like the team will fade away as September goes on.
The Diamondbacks have averaged 4.46 runs per game this season, and the Giants have only averaged 3.35 runs per game and have the worst offense in baseball.
Since the All-Star break, Arizona has scored 209 runs while the Giants have only 137. Another interesting point is that Arizona has been shut out once since the All-Star break, while the Giants have been shutout seven times.
All these stats basically say the Diamondbacks have a much better offense and that the Giants have a much harder time putting up runs. This matters in postseason play since each pitcher is usually much better than the average pitcher from the regular season and runs are much harder to come by.
Last season, the Diamondbacks had the worst pitching staff in baseball, and nothing seemed to go right. GM Kevin Towers was brought in to change the team's pitching staff, and he most definitely did that. This season, the team has a Cy Young candidate (Ian Kennedy) and a much better bullpen.
The starting pitching staff has changed a lot since last season but definitely for the better. Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson are the two mainstays from last season and combine to form a very solid one-two punch for Arizona. The decent performances from Joe Saunders and Josh Collmenter have helped the team get reliable starting pitching from top to bottom of the rotation and an impressive record so far.
The additions to the bullpen have been the biggest surprise this season and a huge part of the team's success. J.J. Putz and David Hernandez have been the key additions and have solidified the eighth and ninth innings for Arizona. It really helps when the team can feel confident that their closer can end the game, unlike last season.