Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Friday, July 7, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

NL West at the All-Star Break

As the second half of the Major League Baseball season begins Friday, the National League West is one of the strongest divisions in baseball. There have been surprises, disappointments and perennial dominance. With over two months still to play in the season, here is how the NL West shapes up.

Dodgers Continued Success

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a virtual tie at the top of the division with a 51-38 record. Los Angeles has controlled the division in the last decade, winning the west nine out of the past 10 seasons, including a franchise record 111 wins in 2022.

This year’s Dodger team has been no different. Their homerun hitting ability has powered them to the third best record in the NL. They rank second in baseball in long balls with 149 and third in slugging percentage at .455. The Dodgers offense has been led by All-Stars Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.

The one thing holding the Dodgers back from running away with this division has been their pitching. They have a team earned run average of 4.50, which is 11th in the NL. Clayton Kershaw, however, has been a stellar as always as he has pitched to a 10-4 record with a 2.55 ERA.

Diamondbacks Turning Heads

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been one of the most surprising teams in baseball in 2023. They hold a record of 52-39, percentage points behind Los Angeles for first in the division. While Arizona has made the playoffs just once in the last 11 years, they have a very good chance this year after a phenomenal first half.

Rookie sensation Corbin Carroll has led the offensive surge for the D-Backs. He has a team-leading .289 batting average and 18 home runs in his first season. He has also led the way on the basepaths with 26 stolen bases, which is second in the NL.

The one-two punch in Arizona’s starting rotation has been something to watch in the first half. Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly have a combined record of 20-7 with an ERA of just over three. Gallen, who started for the NL in the All-Star Game, leads the team with 125 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.05.

Giants Staying Steady

The San Francisco Giants are third in the NL West with a 49-41 record at the break. After a franchise record 107-win season in 2021, the Giants went 81-81 last season and missed the playoffs. They are hoping to turn that around this year and get back to playing October baseball.

San Francisco has gotten some stellar performances out of the top of the rotation and back-end of the bullpen. Alex Cobb, who is in his 12th season in the big leagues, was named an All-Star for the first time. This was well-deserved, as he has a 6-2 record with a 2.91 ERA. Logan Webb also had a very good first half with a 3.14 ERA and a strikeout to walk ratio of 127:23.

Camilo Doval was the winning pitcher in this year’s All-Star Game after an inning of work with a strikeout. He has been lights out all season in the closer role for San Francisco. He has 26 saves in 28 opportunities with an ERA of 2.63.

Disappointing Padres

The San Diego Padres had very lofty expectations coming into this season. So far, they have not lived up to them. They have the third highest payroll in baseball this year, but currently sit fourth in the division at 43-47.

While the Padres have a star-studded lineup highlighted by names like Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., their offense this year has not been up to par. They have a team batting average of just .235 and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .726, which both rank in the bottom half of the league.

The San Diego pitching, on the other hand, has been fantastic. Four of the five pitchers in the Padres’ starting rotation have an ERA under four, including Michael Wacha and Blake Snell who are both under three. In the bullpen, Josh Hader has been shutdown. He has pitched to a 1.08 ERA in 35 appearances and is 21-24 in save opportunities.

Rebuilding Rockies

The Colorado Rockies, who have not had a winning season since 2018, are last in the NL West standings at the break with a record of 34-57. They have the worst record in the National League, and the third worst in all of baseball.

The pitching staff for Colorado has let them down all season. They have the second worst team ERA in the majors at 5.72 and rank dead last in opponent batting average at .285 and strikeouts with 648.

One lone bright spot for the Rockies in 2023 has been catcher Elias Diaz. The All-Star Game MVP has batted .277 with nine home runs and 45 runs batted in thus far. While they are all-but-eliminated from playoff contention this season, Colorado hopes to get back in the picture in the near future.

About Hugh Green

Hugh is a third year student majoring in Journalism: Sports and Media at the University of Florida.

Check Also

Rays to Start Three-Game Series Against the Yankees

The Tampa Bay Rays head to Bronx to lead off a three-game series against the …