The National League West has been surprisingly more competitive this year than almost everybody anticipated before the start of the MLB season, and it’s mainly because of the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
Everybody expected the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres to fight for the division, with the Giants a tier below.
The Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks didn’t have much hope.
After five months and a week of regular season baseball, however, the Giants are still on top and with the best record in MLB.
San Francisco is 87-50, with a one-game advantage over the 86-51 Dodgers after an exciting weekend series.
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 6, 2021
The Padres, still with playoff hopes via the second Wild Card, are a distant third with a 73-64 record.
Both the Giants and Dodgers are going to make the playoffs, and are now fighting over first place and a direct ticket to the Division Series.
The Dodgers and Giants each have 26 games left and each have 86 wins. We're going to have a wild card team with 100 wins, right?
— Chorizy-E (@chorizy) September 5, 2021
Additionally, both are widely expected to win 100 games when all is said and done.
San Francisco And The Beauty Of Player Development
None of the Giants’ primary contributors this season are recent top prospects.
Instead, the organization focused on skills development on its existing roster, and a few specific additions in the rotation and bullpen.
The formula has worked to perfection.
Anthony DeSclafani and Jake McGee were among the 2021 additions: the former has a 3.24 ERA in 141.2 innings this season and a fine 23.1 strikeout rate, while the latter has acted like the co-closer and holds a 2.81 ERA.
Posey is a former MVP and World Series hero who had been below-average for years, but his season, he has had quite a resurgence, hitting .304/.395/.502.
Crawford, a glove-first shortstop for his entire career, is having his best season, slashing .293/.362/.510 with 19 blasts and 10 steals.
The club needs to finish the season 13-12 over its remaining games to get to 100 victories, which should be attainable.
The Dodgers’ Depth Has Been On Display
Yet here they are, with a top-three record in MLB and still alive in the fight for the NL West division.
They traded for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, they have Muncy performing like an MVP candidate (.255/.383/.535, 30 homers), and they are still the deepest organization in MLB, with top-notch scouting and player development departments.
As they get healthier, and they will, the Dodgers will be a specially dangerous team come playoffs time, and everybody in the league knows it.
Los Angeles only needs to play slightly better than .500 to finish at 100 victories.
They have 25 games left, and a 14-11 mark would be enough.
That shouldn’t be a problem for this talented ball club.