I wouldn’t choose any other division for my team to be a part of than the National League West. I think it’s the best division to belong to, at least at this point in time. Here’s why I think so.
10. The Giants are World Champions
I put that as #10 because I’m not exactly happy about it. BUT, it’s always nice when a team from within your division is the champ. It makes you look good. The Rockies split their season series with the Giants in 2010 9-9 and played especially well against them early in the season. That doesn’t necessarily translate to the teams being equal or one being better than the other, but to have gone head-to-head with the eventual championship team and matched them blow-for-blow is pretty good.
9. No Designated Hitter
Obviously this would be true no matter what National League division we were in, but it’s still worth pointing out. I understand the arguments in favor of the DH, especially George Will’s in Men at Work, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. It inflates a team’s offense and affects defensive strategy. I think it does dumb down the game at times. I won’t say that one way is right and the other is wrong, but I am eternally grateful that I grew up in a town that was home to an NL team. It’s just better.
8. Diverse Histories
Our division is the only one to have two teams that were born in the 19th century (the Giants and the Dodgers) and two that were inaugurated in the 1990’s (the Rockies and the Diamondbacks). The Padres began playing in 1969. This gives the NL West both some depth and some freshness. The fans in this division range from people who cheered for the Giants back when they played in New York to people like me, who were kids when the Rockies came to town and have never rooted for anyone else. This fan diversity is part of what makes baseball great, so it’s another reason why our division is the greatest.
7. Great Ballparks
Most divisions have a ballpark or two to be proud of, but I’d argue that the NL West can brag about all 5. Full disclosure: I haven’t actually been to any of our stadiums besides Coors Field, but on TV they sure look good. Dodger Stadium is the 3rd oldest in the majors and has so much history. AT&T Park has that gorgeous view of the San Francisco Bay, and Petco Park gives us a panorama of downtown San Diego. Chase Field, well, it has a roof, so there’s never a rainout! And obviously, Coors Field is one of the best in baseball. I’ve visited a lot of parks situated in the middle of cities, and Coors Field has the best location of any of those, in my opinion. Also – you can see the mountains from right field. That’s awesome.
6. The Giants’ Offense
Well, the Giants have no offense. They’re last in MLB in runs scored. Of course, there’s still that pesky fact that they continue to pull off wins in improbable ways, but from an offensive standpoint, the Rockies can totally take them. If we can hit a stride at the right time, the world champs are going down. Because of San Francisco’s deficit in this area, this division will be within reach up until the final month of the season.
5. The Dodgers’ Bullpen
All the Rockies have to do to beat the Dodgers this season is turn in a decent starting pitching performance. As long as Los Angeles doesn’t score too many runs in the early innings, there’s no way we can lose. The Dodgers’ bullpen is so plagued by injuries and bad performances, they are the team’s most vulnerable spot at the moment. The pen’s ERA and WHIP are 4th worst in the league. Top to bottom, I think they’re more hittable than anybody other than the Astros and the Twins. Good thing we have plenty more chances to get hits off them.
4. The Padres’ Rotation
Who knows what exactly has gone wrong with San Diego’s starting pitchers? They were pretty scary last year; no longer. Their ERA isn’t too shabby (3.63), but they’ve posted only 21 wins so far this season. They’re the only rotation besides the Cubs’ to have no complete games at all. They just don’t have a lot of stamina. The good news for the Padres is that they have a terrific bullpen, but the good news for the Rockies is that, if they can get on the board early and often, they’ll win.
3. The Diamondbacks
The Dbacks aren’t failing in any special way right now, but they are feeding on the wreckage of the other teams in the division. Kirk Gibson is doing a commendable job managing in Phoenix, and he has pulled all the elements of his team together well. But this team doesn’t have the talent to contend in the postseason. The fact that the Giants are scoring so infrequently and are in first place tells you that we’re all hurting a little bit. The Dbacks are still 2 games back. Somebody, either the Giants or the Rockies, will go on a tear in August and September, and Arizona will be left in the dust. I’m not saying they don’t have potential, but this isn’t their year. So as long as it’s us that goes on the tear, they aren’t a threat.
2. The East Coast Media
We spend a lot of time griping about the media on the east coast, and with good reason. I live on the east coast and so not only do I have to deal with national outlets like ESPN and MLB Network fawning all over these teams, I have to hear it from the local media too. It’s relentless. But you know what, in the long run I think that’s good for our team. The Rockies have historically played better when expectations have been low. They don’t like the spotlight. They would crumble in an eastern division. So let’s keep them out west where they belong, and hope they continue to surprise people.
1. The Standings
Have you looked at the standings lately? Man, are we ever lucky. We are 2 games below .500 and sit 6 games out of first place. Compare that to the other divisions. In the AL East, the Blue Jays are 1 game below .500 and 7 1/2 games out of first. In the NL East, the Mets are right at .500 and 9 games out of first. In the NL Central, the Pirates are a game over .500 and 4 games back, but that’s good for 4th place. The other divisions are still competitive, but will grow less and less so as the season moves on. The way that the Giants and Diamondbacks are playing, holes will continue to open for the Rockies to take over. I can’t say now whether or not they will do that, but I know that they won’t be without opportunities. This division is there for the taking. Let’s take it.