With last night's surprising win in Philadelphia by a rookie pitcher making his first start, the Dodgers climbed into third place in the NL West, 5.5 games off the division lead. I know, it's difficult to think big given how this year has gone, what with all of our injuries and our less-than-inspiring 29-33 record.
But consider this optimistic note: in the main National League offensive categories, any players from the NL West are markedly absent, besides our two powerhouses Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. As of last night, here are the main categories:
- Leader: Jose Reyes, NYM, .339
- Dodgers: Ethier, 4th, .324; Kemp, 5th, .320; Jamey Carroll, 12th, .308
- First other NL West representative: Seth Smith, COL, 14th, .304
- Leader: Lance Berkman, HOU, 1.057
- Dodgers: Kemp, 2nd, .997 (Ethier is 12th with .886)
- First other NL West representative: Smith, COL, 10th, .886
- Leader: Jose Reyes, NYM, 84
- Dodgers: Kemp, 6th, 73; Ethier, 9th, 70 (Carroll is 17th with 66)
- First other NL West representative: Freddy Sanchez, 15th, 67
- Leaders: Kemp and Jay Bruce, 17
- First other NL West representative: Kelly Johnson, 8th, 12
Looking at the expected win/loss record, the division-leading Giants are three games ahead of expectations, led by a crazy 17-8 record in one-run games. Chances are that this would equilibriate as the season progresses; last year, even as "magical" as last season's run was for the Giants, their one-run game record was about average (only Philly had a record that was way out of line). Arizona, one game off the division pace, also has a one-run game record that is close to 2:1; likely unsustainable over a full season.
The Dodgers do have the worst run differential in the division, that's true. But if we can get a couple more weeks of high-octane output, as we've seen in the last week or so--that might be just enough to keep us in contention as we head into the all-star break. It's not like the other NL West teams are mashing up a storm (in fact, the magnitude of the range between the highest and lowest run differentials is the tightest of any of the six MLB divisions).
Keep hope alive.