For some players it is easy to know what kind of season they're having. Any baseball fan can tell you that Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger is having a borderline historic season at the plate.
On the flip side, you don’t have to be a close Padres follower to know that it’s been a tough year for Wil Myers.
But what about the less obvious players? They are the ones who got off to a bad start but have since become key pieces to their team’s success. Or there are the ones who may have middle-of-the-road numbers but have filled a vital role on the team.
This week, we take a look at one player on each National League West team who is having a better season than you might think:
D-backs: Archie Bradley
There’s no getting around it -- Bradley struggled mightily at the start of the season. In fact, after giving up a pair of runs on June 22, he had a 5.66 ERA and was allowing an opponents' OPS of .842.
It was so bad that fans were calling for him to be demoted to Triple-A Reno.
In 12 appearances since, Bradley has not allowed a run over 15 1/3 innings and he has held opponents to a .483 OPS. With Greg Holland having struggled as the closer -- leading to his being designated for assignment on Wednesday -- Bradley has assumed that role.
Bradley’s overall numbers for the season are still not great so it’s easy to lose track of just how well he’s pitching right now.
Dodgers: Joe Kelly
Fresh off an outstanding 2018 season that included a World Series championship, Kelly was a highly-sought-after free agent. The Dodgers signed him to a three-year, $25 million contract to be the main bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.
Kelly didn’t endear himself to the Dodger faithful when he blew saves in his first two appearances and he had a 10.13 ERA on May 4.
Those struggles have obscured just how big a role he’s played in the 'pen in 26 appearances since -- going 4-1 with a 2.19 ERA.
Giants: Jeff Samardzija
There were plenty of questions about what Samardzija would be able to give the Giants after missing most of the 2018 campaign with right shoulder issues, but he’s emerged as one of the club’s most consistent starters.
Though he ended June with a 4.52 ERA, he’s logged a 2.11 ERA over his last seven outings, marking one of his best stretches since signing with the Giants in December 2015. Samardzija’s resurgence has given the Giants a reliable arm to pair with Madison Bumgarner at the top of their rotation, setting the tone for an otherwise young and inexperienced starting staff.
Padres: Greg Garcia
What a shrewd pickup Garcia has proven to be. The veteran infielder has played second base primarily, posting a .274/.362/.403 slash line. He's filled a number of other roles, too, as a pinch-hitter and a versatile defender.
Garcia is establishing himself as the perfect utility option among a promising group of young infielders moving forward. He's a strong clubhouse presence and an excellent on-base threat.
The Padres claimed Garcia off the scrap heap last October, when he was designated for assignment by the Cardinals. His hometown club picked him up, and he's thrived ever since.
Rockies: Ryan McMahon
McMahon was in a tough spot this season having to replace the popular, not to mention productive, DJ LeMahieu and it didn’t get any easier when LeMahieu got off to a great start with the Yankees.
Meanwhile, McMahon struggled to find consistency at the plate hitting .237 as late as June 12.
In 176 plate appearances since then, McMahon has hit .300/.358/.488 and it’s easy to overlook the fact that he’s played a really good second base. Per FanGraphs, he had three defensive runs saved through Tuesday’s games.