The San Francisco Giants are currently in first place of the National League West division with a 53-31 record.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are only a half a game behind, and the Padres are not too far at 4.5 games back.
The division will likely be a hotly contested affair all season long.
However, out of the three teams, the Dodgers look like the best positioned to finish the regular season in first place, with the Padres not far behind.
They are good, make no mistake, but they are the most likely to fade out of the three.
The Dodgers Are On Fire
The Dodgers were appointed by most experts, analysts, and fans to finish at the top of the NL West.
But right now, they are among the hottest teams in baseball and could overtake the Giants soon in the division lead.
The Dodgers have won nine of their last 10 games, because they recently lost a nine-game winning streak.
Johnny Wholestaff for NL Cy Young. Since the rain delay last night, #Dodgers relievers pitched 14 innings, allowed one run on 11 hits, struck out 17. Win streak goes to nine
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) July 4, 2021
May was lost for the season, but they have Bellinger back and Seager should follow soon.
Talent-wise, San Francisco has made a giant leap this year, but on paper, the Dodgers still look like the superior team.
Some Players Are Performing Way Over Their Heads
The first half of the season was a best-case scenario for the Giants.
But some of them are either having a lot of luck or playing a little over their heads.
For example, Posey has a .328/.421/.547 line but it comes with a high .372 BABIP, or batting average on balls in play.
That’s a really high number that should come down a bit, affecting his batting average and overall offensive output.
Steven Duggar, the third-ranked in Wins Above Replacement on the Giants with 1.9, has a very good .309/.383/.530 line, but with an abnormally high .449 BABIP.
Kevin Gausman, one of the best pitchers in 2021, has an excellent 1.74 ERA in 108.2 innings, but it comes with an unusually low .206 BABIP.
In other words, some of those batted balls against him will inevitably start to fall for hits.
Gausman has a FIP a full run higher than his ERA and his BABIP is only .209. Has to be some regression coming in there
— Michael (@Wittman7) June 29, 2021
It’s not like these guys are bad: they are very good ballplayers.
It’s just that they are very unlikely to keep performing at that level, and the team will feel it.
They Will Be Strong Wild Card Contenders
The Giants are a very good baseball team, and they have been the most amazing story in baseball this year.
And the fact that they are likely to fade somewhat doesn’t mean they will fully collapse.
They have the talent to keep winning games.
In fact, the NL West division could potentially have two Wild Card teams.
The NL East is weak this year, and the two teams that don’t win the division among the Giants, Padres and Dodgers are likely to have a better record than the second place of the NL Central.
In any case, the Giants should remain good, but perhaps not this good.