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If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that the Giants would be in first place of the NL West in mid-June, I would have assumed you were a clueless Giants fan. But instead it was I that was clueless. Even as a Dodger fan, what the Giants are doing is truly remarkable. So what can the Dodgers do to retain their NL West division crown?
Nothing more the Dodgers can do
Well it’s simple, nothing. Their only strategy is to simply do nothing. The Dodgers’ only focus should be the next game. If they start to get in the weeds of trying to figure out why they aren’t in first place, they will only get in their own heads. The Dodgers are actually playing great baseball despite being relatively streaky.
Their 37-25 record is good enough to be the 2th best record in National League and the 4th best record in the majors. Their +89 run differential is the best in the majors as well. A big reason for that is their 326 runs scored which also leads the majors. So there is no need to panic just yet.
Close race but Dodgers run differential is superior
Despite all that, the Dodgers still find themselves 1.5 games back of the Giants in the NL West and only 1 game ahead of the Padres. The standings are neck and neck even though the Dodgers’ numbers are immaculate. One thing that is very different from the Dodgers and the rest of the pack in the NL West is their payroll.
The Dodgers are spending every dollar imaginable to try and mount a repeat this year which is something to be admired. While some teams care more about a profit return, the Dodgers seem to only be focused on winning. While the Padres have almost as much firepower as the Dodgers, they are nowhere near the amount the Dodgers spend.
It’s not about the money for the Padres and Giants
The Padres have a payroll of $174 million which is fairly decent considering they are in a big market. However, the Dodgers are spending $253 million. Now take into account the Giants’ $153 million payroll and one might start to believe that there is a problem with the Dodgers. After all, how could they be separated by a couple games from teams that are spending almost $100 million less than them. With $100 million more, the Giants and the Padres could reinforce their starting pitching and their lineup significantly.
But they aren’t. And being within a few games of each other should not matter right now. There is still more than half of the season left to be played. The Giants and the Padres could be running out of gas. The Giants aren’t the best team on paper but their pitching has been lights out this year. The Padres are better built to take on the Dodgers but the Dodgers have the advantage on paper.
Dodgers are built for the long run
It’s also worth noting that the Dodgers have lost May, Gonsolin, Bellinger, and Seager for a considerable amount of time. So it is fair to say that even if one of those injuries hadn’t happened, the Dodgers would be in first place. One thing is for sure, the NL West is looking like a sprint, not a marathon. And the Dodgers seem better suited for a long sprint.