After stumbling a bit on the road against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the San Francisco Giants now find themselves in a virtual tie atop the NL West as they prepare for a crucial early-season four-game series against the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers. The surging Colorado Rockies are for real. They’ve now won 22 games, the best mark in baseball. Their plus-55 run differential is the best in the big leagues. They rank as the best offensive team in baseball, slotting themselves atop all major statistical categories.
The Giants were thought to be the biggest threat to the Dodgers’ deep-pocketed methods of reclaiming relevancy, but the Rockies are equally capable, if not more, of stealing a division that was seemingly anointed to the boys in blue before Spring Training began. While the Dodgers are certainly a playoff-caliber ball club, considering their deep lineup and strong front end of their starting rotation, they’re frequently snake bit by injury and will not be able to rely on a ridiculous 42-8 spurt mid-summer to win the NL West.
San Francisco has more than proven itself as capable of beating down the Dodgers in head-to-head matchups. The orange and black handed the Dodgers their worst loss in L.A.-franchise history on their home turf during the stretch run of last season, slapping the beach ball bums around for 19 runs in a 16-run win. The Dodgers haven’t won a season series against the Giants since 2009. San Francisco has won nine of the previous 12 matchups, dating back to 2013, and four-of-six games this season.
If the Giants are able to sustain a near-.600 win percentage for the entirety of the season and win their head-to-head matchups against Los Angeles, the Dodgers won’t be a factor in the NL West. That statement could be perceived as premature, considering the calendar reads May 8, but it’s not entirely far-fetched, especially considering how good the Rockies are. Unlike the Dodgers, the Giants are bound to have problems against the Rockies. In fact, they already have. The Giants narrowly escaped a three-game sweep in the Mile High City at the end of April courtesy of an extra-inning grand slam off the bat of backup catcher Hector Sanchez.
The Rockies boast all the flare that a “surprise” team needs to have in order to captivate baseball pundits and fans alike. Third baseman Nolan Arenado now owns an impressive 27-game hit streak and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. He owns a .324 batting average in 142 at-bats. MVP candidate Troy Tulowitzki has been a beast all season for the Rockies, smashing nine home runs with 31 RBI while posting an out-of-this-world 1.286 OPS in 111 at-bats. The Rockies are for real, and so are the Giants. What was supposed to be a red carpet ride for the Dodgers doesn’t appear destined to end like that. The Giants and Rockies are the two best teams in the NL West.