National League West: First 15 games

NL West. Photo via Thomas Harding/MLB.com

Most of the teams in the majors are now through 15 games in a 60-game season (aside from teams with postponed games due to weather and Covid-19). The NL West is the only division in MLB to have two teams with at least 10 wins up to this point in the season.

The Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers are two of six teams in the league with 10 or more wins. They also hold the top two spots for runs scored across all of baseball, with the Dodgers total at 81 and Rockies at 77. But the rest of the West isn’t far off in terms of scoring either. Third place San Diego Padres, share the 2nd place scoring spot with their mile-high rivals, while the San Francisco Giants have secured an 8th place spot with 71 runs scored so far.

Top 10 Runs Scored by team via MLB.com

The Rockies sit atop the division with an 11-3 record and the Dodgers are trailing by 1.5 games at 10-5. Winning isn’t the only thing these two NL teams are succeeding at though. The Dodgers have several things going for them, as do the Rockies. The rest of the teams in the division definitely have their work cut out for them if they intend to succeed in the shortened season.

Let’s take a look at how the NL West shapes up through 15 games:

Colorado Rockies (11-3)

The Rockies are off to a hot start, quite the opposite from last year. Through their first 15 games of the 2019 season, the Rockies went 3-12. The team boasts an MLB leading batting average (BA) of .268 and are 4th in the majors in earned run average (ERA) at 2.88. They also rank 2nd in RBIs and are top five in hits, on-base percentage (OBP) and on-base % plus slugging (OPS). It’s looking pretty good for the Denver ball club, although they have yet to face the Dodgers, and won’t till Aug. 21.

Perhaps, as the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon put it, they’re just playing ball and having fun. His current attitude has made him one of two players in MLB (both in NL West) with a batting average of over .400 (.446). The bearded ballplayer leads the majors in hits.

Los Angeles Dodgers (10-5)

The Dodgers are always in the hot seat. Baseball and Dodgers fans assume that the team will constantly perform at high levels, which is to be expected considering the money and talent within the organization. Fortunately, for Dodgers fans, winning is part of the teams’ DNA. And with the addition of Mookie Betts this last off season, high-level production from the club should go up.

The team has had some unfortunate losses so far, but are still producing. With an ERA of just 2.56 (2nd in MLB), the team has the biggest run differential in the majors at +37 runs. They lead the majors in runs, home runs, RBIs and are top 10 in hits, doubles, triples, walks, OBP, slugging (SLG) and OPS.

The Dodgers are still a top team in baseball, despite the feeling that the team should have a better record.

San Diego Padres (8-7)

The Padres find themselves in the middle of the pack in the division, but the team does have good things going for it. The Friars’ 21-year-old star, Fernando Tatis Jr. has been glowing under the lights with impressive hitting and solid defense. He’s only in his second year in the league, but already looks like one of its top young talents. The shortstop is tied for first in National League home runs with seven (only one behind MLB leader Aaron Judge), and is leading the majors with an outstanding OPS of 1.191.

Tatis Jr. isn’t the only Padre putting up numbers and playing studly defense. Rookie Jake Cronenworth has become an early season standout. He’s hitting .333 in his 27 career plate appearances, racking up nine hits and two home runs along the way. Cronenworth is a natural shortstop who moved to the other side of the diamond to first base but the transition hasn’t seemed to have much effect on his defensive prowess.

San Francisco Giants (7-9)

While the Giants of the 2010’s may be all but gone, the first season of the decade might give some promise, despite the under .500 record so far. The team has won three games against the Dodgers this year, including three home runs and a win against Clayton Kershaw which is no easy feat. Players such as Mike Yastrzemski, Donovan Solano, and Austin Slater have played well to start the season.

Donovan Solano has been outstanding, leading all of the major leagues with a ridiculous batting average of .462. He is also just one hit behind Blackmon for hit leader.

In their Aug. 8 win against rival Dodgers, the Giants hit three home runs off of Clayton Kershaw, including one by Yastrzemski and two by Slater. Slater had only nine home runs in his previous three years with the Giants before his big night against Kershaw.

Arizona Diamondbacks (6-9)

The Diamondbacks are at the bottom of the division, that much is obvious. They haven’t been hitting will, only putting up a team batting average of .215. D-back hitters have hit a combined measly eight home runs, the same number put up by Aaron Judge alone. Although the team hasn’t put up good numbers (except for the two Martes), they have won three of their last four games, including a series win over the Houston Astros.

Starling Marte and Ketel Marte, same last name but no relation, have both been producing offensively when compared with the rest of their teammates. Second baseman Ketel leads the team in hits at 19 giving him a BA of .317. Starling is just shy of Ketel with 17 hits, but has the higher BA of .362.

Pitcher Merrill Kelly has been a strong point for the team’s pitching staff, however. Kelly has pitched 19.2 innings, with 15 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.29. Only seven pitchers in the majors have thrown for more innings than Kelly.

Takeaway

The National League West is strong division, even the teams under .500 have arguably good aspects. The standouts are of course the Dodgers who are typically expected to be and the Rockies. The Padres do look like a better team than Giants and D-backs, but will have a tough year competing against the top teams in the division. Despite the positive points for the Giants and D-backs, the season isn’t looking too great so far, they have work to do.

*Stats (some or all) from: MLB/Statcast, Baseball-Reference/Stathead, ESPN.

**Stats are accurate as of published date.


***Step Into The Box makes every effort to be as accurate as possible. Grammar, spelling and other style errors will be automatically fixed. If a more serious, factual error is unfortunately made, an edit will be added the end of the piece.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: