MLB Futures: Does Anyone Want to Win the National League West?
by Bovada Sportsbook Staff | July 10, 2013
Every season in Major League Baseball it seems there’s one division that lags far behind the other five. Last year, for example, the Detroit Tigers needed just 88 victories to win the American League Central. They and the White Sox, who led the division most of the season but finished 85-77, were the only teams to finish above .500.
This year the Central was expected to be the weak sister again but is a bit better because the Indians and Royals have improved. The Tigers remain the Bovada 13/4 favorites to win the World Series. The clear division to pick on in 2013 is the NL West.
The last time a team won the NL West with less than 90 victories was the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 with an 84-78 record. That number could well do the trick again this season. Entering Tuesday’s action, the Arizona Diamondbacks were the only team above .500 in the West and held a 3.5-game lead over the Dodgers. Oddsmakers don’t have much face in the Snakes as they are +160 second-favorites to win it behind Los Angeles (+130).
Arizona is definitely flawed. Young lefty Patrick Corbin has been terrific, but the rest of the staff leaves much to be desired. Ian Kennedy was 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA two seasons ago and was the presumed ace but has just three wins and a team-worst 5.16 ERA this year. Fellow starters Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy were both struggling before landing on the disabled list. Thus Arizona has to go with youngsters like Randall Delgado and Tyler Skaggs. If the team is serious about contending for the NL pennant – Arizona is 10/1 to win it – it must add a veteran starter before the July 31 trade deadline.
Offensively, Arizona is overly reliant on NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. He leads the team in virtually every offensive category so when he slumps the club usually loses. Obviously a Goldschmidt injury would be crushing.
The Dodgers are favored because they have the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw and now a very good top four in the rotation of Kershaw, Zack Greinke, rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu and recent trade acquisition Ricky Nolasco. There’s also the Yasiel Puig factor as the Cuban rookie has taken baseball by storm. The team was nine games under .500 when Puig made his debut on June 3 and last in the West, 8.5 games behind Arizona. L.A. is now 6/1 to win the NL pennant. If the Dodgers could ever get Matt Kemp healthy, and he’s back off the disabled list, they could be scary good.
The reigning World Series champion Giants now might have to be considered the most disappointing team of 2013 with the Dodgers and Angels both playing much better. San Francisco has one of the worst run differentials in baseball and is fourth in the division. It is +450 to win the West and 14/1 to repeat as NL champion.
Have injuries hurt the Giants? Certainly, but they happen to every team. The pitching staff was supposed to be one of the best in MLB but ranks 19th in ERA and 23rd in quality starts. Matt Cain looks nothing like his former self, and Tim Lincecum just clearly isn’t the pitcher he was when winning two Cy Young Awards. Offensively, 2012 NL MVP Buster Posey isn’t getting much support. The Giants – led by Posey – caught fire in the second half last year so maybe they have another push in them.
The Rockies (+900 to win division) can hit but not pitch. The Padres (+1800) have all sorts of problems and almost surely will bring up the rear in the division.