What do the three best teams in the National League all have in common? They all play in the NL West. As of Tuesday, the Diamondbacks have won seven games in a row, the Rockies have won five in a row, and the Dodgers have won four in a row. In their last 10 games, these teams are 9-1, 7-3, and 9-1, respectively.
If the playoffs were to begin today, the Rockies would take the division, and the Dodgers (a half game back) and Diamondbacks (one game back) would duke it out in the NL Wild Card game. All other hopeful Wild-Card contenders would be boned, and by a great measure—the Cubs, who are one game behind the Brewers for the NL Central lead, are third in line for a Wild-Card spot, and trail the Dodgers and D-Backs by eight-and-a-half games. It only gets worse from there.
The NL West is usually a battle between the Dodgers and Giants, and Los Angeles being being nine games over .500 in June is unsurprising. But what’s refreshing about this year’s race is that the Giants’ collapse has allowed the Rockies and Diamondbacks to get into the race while surging back from sub-.500 seasons.
It’s only June, but if you want competitive, high-stakes baseball this season, the NL West is shaping up to be your best bet. The AL West and the NL East are effectively locked up already; The AL East promises yet another race between the Yankees and the Red Sox; the AL Central is just waiting for the Indians to get their shit together and leave the Royals and Twins behind.
There are few things in baseball better than the frantic sprint to win the division, and it’s all the more fun when three teams are involved instead of two. All three teams are playing great but none of them seem likely to run away with the division, which is good news for fans who want to see this race continue into September.
And it’s not just that the division is close, the actual baseball being played out west is highly entertaining. Here are some Wild Things that have happened just this week in NL West baseball:
- Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger hit his 21st home run despite having played in just 51 games.
- Nolan Arenado downed the Giants with a walk-off home run that also gave him a cycle. He then emerged from the postgame scrum with blood all over his face.
- Diamondbacks rookie Rey Fuentes won a game with his first career homer on Father’s Day, and plans to send the ball home to his dad in Puerto Rico.
While the Dodgers gave the business to Zack Wheeler and the Mets last night, the D-Backs and Rockies had an off day to prepare to face each other in a three-game series. They’ve only faced each other six times so far this season, and the Rockies lead the season series 4-2. It’s only June, but it’s already starting to feel like every game between these three teams is of monumental importance, so it should be fun to see how the next few days shake out.
If you find yourself feeling uninspired by the baseball being played around the rest of the country, try to stay up late and catch a few games in the NL West this month. There’s nothing like the sweet smell of competitive baseball.