A month into the season, one division that was predicted to be among the most competitive in baseball has met those expectations, with an added twist.
The National League West is the only division in baseball where every team is above the .500 mark -- yes, that includes the Rockies and the D-backs, who for years spent most of the season watching the other three teams pile up first-half wins quickly and efficiently, making it all but impossible to try to catch up post All-Star break.
Sure, it’s early -- probably too early to point out that the Rockies and D-backs, despite the early season success, still are the only two teams in the NL West with negative run differentials. But it’s notable that the D-backs are in fifth place with a .517 winning percentage (15-14) and have only two more losses than the Giants -- and only 5 1/2 games separate them from the first-place Dodgers.
On to the rankings …
Biggest jump: The Astros jumped six spots, from No. 15 to No. 9. After starting the season losing nine of their first 16 games, the Astros have won 11 of their past 13, including seven straight. During those 13 games, Astros pitchers have allowed three or fewer runs in 12 of them. Houston swept a four-game home set with the Tigers over the weekend.
Biggest drop: Three teams dropped six spots: The Giants (No. 5 to No. 11), Mariners (12 to 18) and A’s (23 to 29). The Giants salvaged their weekend series with the Cardinals by taking the finale Sunday, 4-3, but San Francisco has lost seven of 10 games and is batting well below .200 as a team with runners in scoring position during that stretch.
1) Dodgers (1 last week)
DraftKings World Series odds: +450 (4.5-1)
The Dodgers have outscored opponents 38-8 during their current six-game winning streak. They entered Sunday’s win over the Cubs leading the Majors in averaging 5.1 runs per game, and their stars are heating up. Mookie Betts is hitting .389 (14-36) with 3 homers and eight RBIs during his nine-game hitting streak, and Freddie Freeman has reached base safely 12 times in his past 25 plate appearances. He’s batting .409 (9-for-22) with six extra-base hits during that stretch.
2) Yankees (3)
DraftKings World Series odds: +700 (7-1)
The Yankees, who split a doubleheader with the Rangers on Sunday, are 12-2 in their past 14 games and 14-3 in their past 17. Including the two games with Texas, the Yankees are in the midst of playing 17 of 19 games against teams that are not above .500 (Rangers, White Sox and Orioles). The lone exception is a two-game set with Toronto starting Tuesday.
3) Mets (2)
DraftKings World Series odds: +800 (8-1)
The Mets, who split a doubleheader with the Phillies Sunday, are comfortably in first place as the only team in the NL East with a winning record. Their one loss in Philadelphia was somewhat significant, in that it ended Max Scherzer’s streak of starts without a loss at 24 games. He was tied for the sixth-longest streak in Major League history, and before absorbing the loss in Game 1 of Sunday’s DH, he had not lost a game since May 30, 2021. He was 15-0 with a 2.55 ERA over those 24 starts.
4) Brewers (6)
DraftKings World Series odds: +1100 (11-1)
The Brewers lost consecutive games to the Braves on Saturday and Sunday, the first time they had back-to-back losses since April 15-16 when they dropped two to the Cardinals. Since then, Milwaukee is 15-5. Perhaps not coincidentally, Christian Yelich is also starting to heat up. He was 0-for-3 in the finale in Atlanta, but prior to that, he was 8-for-18 (.444) with four extra-base hits and seven runs score over four games.
5) Rays (8)
DraftKings World Series odds: +2000 (20-1)
It took nearly a week for the Rays to finally lose a game during their West Coast swing through Oakland and Seattle. They dropped a 2-1 decision to the Mariners on Sunday, snapping a six-game winning streak, during which they outscored their opponents, 39-20. The Rays have won 13 of 18 after starting the season 5-6.
The rest of the field of 30:
- Padres (7 last week)
- Blue Jays (4)
- Angels (9)
- Astros (15)
- Twins (14)
- Giants (5)
- Cardinals (10)
- Braves (11)
- White Sox (16)
- Rockies (17)
- Marlins (13)
- Guardians (20)
- Mariners (12)
- Phillies (19)
- Red Sox (18)
- D-backs (24)
- Rangers (26)
- Tigers (22)
- Cubs (21)
- Pirates (27)
- Orioles (29)
- Royals (25)
- Nationals (28)
- A’s (23)
- Reds (30)
Voters: Alyson Footer, Anthony Castrovince, Paul Casella, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, David Venn, Brett Blueweiss