MLB Second Half Preview 2013: The National League West

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Los Angeles Dodgers (47-47)

Jun 29, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez (17) celebrates with right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (23) after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The consensus remains the same: if there’s one team capable of running away with the division, it is indeed the free-spending Dodgers.

That’s what Los Angeles seems to be doing. Over the last 14 days, they have the second-best starters’ ERA and fifth-best bullpen ERA in baseball. Zack Greinke (2.14 ERA over the last 14 days), Clayton Kershaw (1.50) and Stephen Fife (0.79) have been the main corps in LA’s starting pitching dominance.

The Dodgers’ bats have also picked up steam. They’re fifth in the NL over the past 14 days with a .339 wOBA (Weighted On-Base Percentage), fourth wRC+ (121) and fifth in OPS (.784).

A.J. Ellis (.800), Juan Uribe (.851), Andre Ethier (.862), Adrian Gonzalez (.887) and Hanley Ramirez (1.140) all have OPS’s north of .800 over the last two weeks.

I could ramble on with a few more stats, but you get the point: the Dodgers have everything clicking.

The big X-Factor in the Dodgers’ chances of running away with the West: money, of course. You know they have lots of it, I know they have lots of it and Dodgers brass surely knows that they have plenty of it.

The question then comes down to what money will fetch them at the trade deadline, because they don’t have a ton of good prospects to offer. At the beginning of the season, ESPN’s Keith Law (insider subscription required) nabbed the Dodgers’ farm as the 19th-best in MLB, and that has since weakened with Yasiel Puig graduating to the majors in June.

However, teams are willing to lower their asking prices for their trade chips if some of the financial burden is lessened, and that plays into the Dodgers’ strength.

Los Angeles has already used their unlimited funs to acquire Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins. They ate up the remains of his $11.5 million contract, and in turn, gave up three mediocre prospects. Ned Colletti could follow a similar route to acquire, say, Matt Garza or Chase Utley.

With momentum, money and star power, the Dodgers certainly wouldn’t be a bad pick to come out of the West.