The Giants currently have the second best run differential in the NL behind the Padres, at +83 versus +91.
That’s also the four teams that would qualify for postseason were the season to expire today. I think this is exactly right and how it will likely shake up. I think the Phillies’ reign is over.
It would go:
Giants @ Atlanta
Cardinals @ San Diego
WEST: I do think there is still some hope that the Giants will win the West, but even if they don’t I think they’re a Wild Card team. The Dodgers at +13 and Rockies at +28, I believe, will not be able to keep up. Neither has the pitching to keep up.
CENTRAL: I think the Reds, +54, will keep this close down to the wire, but ultimately the experience of the Cardinals will propel them to another Central crown. I’d love to see Cinci make it to the playoffs for the first time in a long time, but I don’t think their pitching will hold up. With Wainwright and Carpenter anchoring the rotation and Pujols and Holliday in the lineup each day, it’s theirs to lose. I love the Reds’ first baseman Votto, though. He’s a stud.
EAST: Atlanta wins this easy, in my opinion. I think the Mets (+31) will stay close but they’ve been even streakier than the Giants this season while playing horribly on the road. I think the Phillies (+42) blew it by trading Cliff Lee for less than stellar prospects this offseason after acquiring Halladay and it cost them another NL East crown. They can’t overcome the injury to Utley – he makes them go.
Let’s not forget that it’s likely going to be a race to the end for NL Rookie of the Year honors. My money’s on the sweet-swinging, fireball-throwing catcher from Georgia they call Buster. I’ll take Jason Heyward as the runner-up, another complete stud. I don’t think it’s necessarily the offense that earns him the trophy. It’s catching one of the best staffs in baseball down the stretch, a task much much more difficult than right field.