What a Difference a Year Makes: Welcome to the Mild, Mild West
A year ago, the NL West was easily the best division in the National League.
The Dodgers compiled the best record in the NL, and took the Astros to seven games in the World Series. The two NL wild-card teams were the Diamondbacks and Rockies.
But it's not about what you have done. It's what you are doing. And the NL West is not doing anything close to what it did a year ago. The Diamondbacks are in first place in the NL West, but their record is the fifth best in the NL. The Rockies, with the ninth-best record in the NL, are the only other NL West team with a winning record.
What kind of a start has the NL had in 2018? Well, the Braves and Phillies go into Thursday with the two best records in the NL.
A DIFFERENT LOOK AT THE TOP
|Atlanta Braves||26||16||0.619||Los Angeles Dodgers||104||58||0.642|
|Philadelphia Phillies||24||16||0.6||Washington Nationals||97||65||0.599|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||25||17||0.595||Arizona Diamondbacks||93||69||0.574|
|Milwaukee Brewers||26||18||0.591||Chicago Cubs||92||70||0.568|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||25||18||0.581||Colorado Rockies||87||75||0.537|
|St. Louis Cardinals||23||17||0.575||Milwaukee Brewers||86||76||0.531|
|Washington Nationals||24||18||0.571||St. Louis Cardinals||83||79||0.512|
|Chicago Cubs||22||18||0.55||Miami Marlins||77||85||0.475|
|Colorado Rockies||23||20||0.535||Pittsburgh Pirates||75||87||0.463|
|New York Mets||20||19||0.513||Atlanta Braves||72||90||0.444|
|San Francisco Giants||22||22||0.5||San Diego Padres||71||91||0.438|
|San Diego Padres||17||27||0.386||New York Mets||70||92||0.432|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||16||26||0.381||Cincinnati Reds||68||94||0.42|
|Miami Marlins||16||26||0.381||Philadelphia Phillies||66||96||0.407|
|Cincinnati Reds||15||29||0.341||San Francisco Giants||64||98||0.395|
Source: Stats, Inc.
The Diamondbacks enter Thursday with the same record they had at this point a year ago, but the Rockies are four games back of the pace they were setting a year ago, and the Dodgers are eight games behind where they were in 2017.
The most telling number for the Dodgers is they are 4-10 outside the division. They have lost nine of 12 games against teams from the NL East and NL Central divisions, and having split two games with the Angels in their only inter-league series so far.
The five NL West teams are a combined 44-54 against teams from outside the division.
Looking for a Kick Start
The Dodgers, in fact, have equaled the ninth worst record 42 games into a season in franchise history. It's their worst start since 1958, their first year in Los Angeles, when they were also 16-26. They have not opened a season with a worse record than 16-26 since they were 15-27 in 1929.
It is not impossible to struggle early and wind up in the post-season, but only 11 teams have ever opened a season with 18 or fewer wins in the first 44 games and advanced to the post-season. Now, the expansion of the post-season from the original NL and AL champions to four teams in 1969 (two division champions in each league) to eight teams in 1995 (the three division division champions in each league, and a wild-card in each league) to 10 teams in 2012 (the six division champions and two wild-cards from each league).
In fact, prior to divisional play, the Braves were the only team of the 26 that have won win fewer than 20 of its first 44 games and advanced to the post-season. The 1906 Chicago White Sox had the second fewest wins in the first 44 games (20) prior to 1969, and advanced. The White Sox also won the World Series.
It's Slim But There's Hope
|Pirates||1974||17-27||0.386||NL East Champions|
|Dodgers||2013||18-16||0.409||NL West Champions|
|Cardinals||1996||18-26||0.409||NL Central Champions|
|Blue Jays||1989||18-26||0.409||AL East Champions|
Each NL West team has battled injuries, and each has a key player on the disabled list right now.
ACHES AND PAINS
|A.J. Pollock||5/15/2018||Fractured left thumb||10 day DL|
|Braden Shipley||5/8/2018||Right elbow inflammation||10 day DL|
|Robbie Ray||4/30/2018||Strained right oblique||10 day DL|
|Taijuan Walker||4/15/2018||Right elbow surgery - out for season||60 day DL|
|Jake Lamb||4/3/2018||Sprained left AC joint||10 day DL|
|Randall Delgado||3/26/2018||Strained left oblique||10 day DL|
|DJ LeMahieu||5/14/2018||Left thumb sprain||10 day DL|
|Zac Rosscup||3/29/2018||Blister on left middle finger||60 day DL|
|Carlos Estevez||3/29/2018||Strained left oblique||60 day DL|
|Rayan Gonzalez||3/12/2018||Recovery from right elbow surgery||60 day DL|
|Shawn O'Malley||3/3/2018||Fractured left hand||day-to-day|
|Tony Cingrani||5/9/2018||Left shoulder inflammation||10 day DL|
|Clayton Kershaw||5/6/2018||Left biceps tendinitis||10 day DL|
|Hyun-Jin Ryu||5/3/2018||Left groin strain||10 day DL|
|Corey Seager||4/30/2018||Right UCL sprain||60 day DL|
|Tom Koehler||3/29/2018||Anterior capsule strain, right shoulder||60 day DL|
|Joey Lucchesi||5/15/2018||Right hip strain||10 day DL|
|Phil Maton||5/13/2018||Right lat strain||10 day DL|
|Austin Hedges||5/1/2018||Right elbow tendinitis||10 day DL|
|Wil Myers||4/29/2018||Strained left oblique||10 day DL|
|Christian Villanueva||4/23/2018||Sore hamstring||day-to-day|
|Hunter Renfroe||4/21/2018||Right elbow inflammation||10 day DL|
|Colin Rea||3/29/2018||Right shoulder strain||60 day DL|
|Dinelson Lamet||3/29/2018||Right elbow surgery - out for season||60 day DL|
|Alex Dickerson||3/28/2018||Left elbow surgery - out for season||60 day DL|
|Allen Cordoba||3/28/2018||Concussion||60 day DL|
|Alen Hanson||5/14/2018||Left hamstring strain||10 day DL|
|Derek Law||5/10/2018||Undisclosed injury||10 day DL|
|Reyes Moronta||5/5/2018||Undisclosed injury||day-to-day|
|Johnny Cueto||5/1/2018||Right elbow sprain||60 day DL|
|Mac Williamson||4/28/2018||Concussion||10 day DL|
|Joe Panik||4/28/2018||Sprained left thumb||10 day DL|
|Hunter Pence||4/20/2018||Sprained right thumb||10 day DL|
|Julian Fernandez||3/28/2018||Strained UCL in right elbow||60 day DL|
|Madison Bumgarner||3/28/2018||Fractured left hand||60 day DL|
|Mark Melancon||3/28/2018||Right elbow flexor strain||60 day DL|
Source: Stats, Inc.