Even though we’re only halfway through the regular season, the National League’s West division has been so close that it’s hard to project a clear cut winner. Sure, the teams themselves aren’t doing that well, but it still makes for an exciting watch.
In this division, the winner is going to more than likely boil down to game 162, but can the Arizona Diamondbacks make first place a permanent home?
Right now, the Arizona Diamondbacks are sitting on a meek 48-44 record, 1.5 games above the second place Los Angeles Dodgers. In Arizona, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt has been a huge part of their success as he’s not only hitting .313/.396/.561, but has 21 home runs, 76 RBIs and has scored 60 runs. Goldschmidt was also named to this year’s All-Star team, making it the first time for the 25-year old.
Clearly Goldschmidt has been a huge part of why the Diamondbacks are doing well, but taking offense into account, he’s not alone. Right fielder Gerardo Parra has also been pulling his fair share of the weight, hitting a modest .285/.343/.427 with seven home runs, 27 RBIs and has scored 51 runs. After that, the offense really takes a nosedive as the next highest batting average for an everyday player is center fielder A.J. Pollock‘s .260.
So offensively, Arizona ranks in the middle across the board in the entirety of the MLB. That’s not exactly bad, considering they have the best run differential in the NL West at +11, but can they stack up against other powerhouse teams? Take the St. Louis Cardinals for example as they have a run differential of +124, which is by far the best in the majors. Come playoff time, and if the Diamondbacks have postseason life, are the Cardinals a team they could take?
On the other side of the ball, pitching has had its ups and downs with the team. Patrick Corbin‘s 10-1, 2.40 ERA season has been a blessing for this team who otherwise has a really rough starting rotation. The signing of Brandon McCarthy hasn’t exactly panned out how they wanted it to as not only does McCarthy own an ERA of 5.00, but has been battling time on the disabled list this season.
Wade Miley, who was in the top three last season for Rookie of the Year, has been suffering through a sophomore slump, but has done well as of late. This season, Miley is 6-7 with an ERA of 4.01, a WHIP of 1.37 and has seen an increase in walks, as the percentage is up to 8.0 percent from last year’s 4.6 percent. Trevor Cahill has been another disappointment for the team as he sits at 3-10 record with a 4.66 ERA.
The Diamondbacks are in need of some serious turnarounds for their rotation and very well may see themselves as buyers before the month ends. Matt Garza is one of the top trade targets since Ricky Nolasco was traded to the Dodgers, but Arizona has been linked with the Milwaukee Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo. While nothing has been confirmed, details of that possible trade included Milwaukee trading Gallardo to Arizona for pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs.
So looking at all these stats, it seems that the Diamondbacks are holding onto their lead by a thread. This isn’t to discredit the team, but with the surging Dodgers and the powerful line-up of the Colorado Rockies, the Diamondbacks need to make some obvious moves, especially anything that could improve the quality of the starting rotation. They’ve had problems all season with their starters and if they trade up for Garza or Gallardo, then they’re getting a decent arm that can seriously rally the rest of the rotation.
The one thing that the team could also look at would be to bring in another bat or two. Goldschmidt really has been powering this team the entire season with help from Parra and about two other players. Though, then the speculation becomes, are they in the market for pitching or hitting? It’s hard to win without both, but they need a definite stance on one side so they can then focus on how to fix the other.
With that though, I don’t know if it’s enough to give Arizona the edge to win the West. At this point, and probably until the end of the season, winning this particular division is up for anyone. Currently, the Diamondbacks just have made the best stab at the lead, but don’t expect the other teams to just die off. Not to discredit the Diamondbacks, but with the play that the rest of the NL West has shown, it’s no surprise that Arizona is in first. Can the Diamondbacks win the West? Well sure, any team can win a division, but will they win it is an entirely different animal.