The National League West looked like the most evenly competitive division in all of baseball weeks before Opening Day. And it still is today except for one team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. And at this point, though with plenty of baseball still too be played, no team is making a bigger mockery of the rest of its division opponents like the D-Backs are. As a San Diego Padre fan who truly believed the Padres would be right in the mix with Arizona, the Colorado Rockies, and the Los Angeles Dodgers (my own preseason pick to win the NL West), it of course pains me to write this. But really it may not be too ridiculous to say Arizona may already have the NL West wrapped up - barring the possibility major injuries down the road of course. Surely it is so pathetic to say the "possibility of major injuries" in April, and that is my last remaining hope for San Diego to have chance (as well as its bullpen sometime soon showing up one of these days and improving on a current 5.53 ERA and 1-8 record) in this division.
Sure, it will be a tight tight competition it appears for the NL Wildcard if in fact the Padres, Rockies, and Dodgers can even stay on par with other NL clubs. But at this point, I do not think it is unrealistic to hope more for the NL Wildcard (if even that) than the NL West title if you're a San Diego fan like me, or that of the Rockies, or Dodgers. This morning (Wednesday, April 23) the D-Backs are an MLB-best 15-5 (Boston is 15-7). They hold the biggest lead of any division leader, 6 games ahead of second-place Colorado and 6.5 games ahead of third-place San Diego. Six games back and you're in second place in the NL West? Six games back in the NL Cental (Pirates) lands you in last place by the way. The Diamondbacks have leaders in many statistical categories already.
Their starting rotation is clearly unmatched in this division (hurts to say that with Peavy, Young, Maddux on my side but...) with Dan Haren (ERA 1.80), Brandon Webb (2.31) and Micah Owings (2.42) still collectively unbeaten at 12-0. I shudder to think how they can widen their NL West lead if Randy Johnson can adjust and become a winner in this rotation.
Offensively Arizona is all over MLB stat leaders as well including Justin Upton (.368 batting average, .645 slugging), Conor Jackson (.361 BA, .689 slug), Mark Reynolds (19 RBI, 6 homeruns, .610 slug) and Eric Byrnes (14 RBI).
So there it is Padres, Rockies, and Dodgers and San Francisco Giants fans, a sobering view of ou division which at this point is clearly OWNED by Arizona. Speaking of the Giants, if there's any team that could help the D-Backs pad the lead further and enjoy a stress-free September it could be San Fran, who can nip away at the Padres (starting tonight?), the Dodgers, and the Rockies all season long. I know it's way too early to be writing this type of stuff. But it sure doesn't seem too crazy to be doing so.