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MLB End-of-June Check-in: NL West

Things have gotten hot in the desert since we last checked in.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Every day, Pinstripe Alley offers updates on what the Yankees’ top American League opponents are up to through the Rivalry Roundup. The AL East is well-trodden ground there, but with the month of June coming to a close, we’re going to take a peak around MLB as a whole and check in with each of the other five divisions. Who’s surprising? Who’s underwhelming? Who’s simply mediocre at the moment? Read on and find out.

First Place: Arizona Diamondbacks (48-32)

Top Position Player: Corbin Carroll (3.6)
Top Pitcher: Zac Gallen (3.3)

The first-place Snakes! Staying steady at the right time, the D-backs now stand alone atop the West as we head into the second half of the season. It has come time to sit with the fact that these guys are for real.

At the top, Corbin Carroll has been the third most valuable player in baseball this year by fWAR. He owns a 150 wRC+, has already mashed 17 homers, and is running away with the NL’s Rookie of the Year award. He leads a lineup that boasts three others who have already put up 2.0 fWAR, and a wRC+ of at least 130: Geraldo Perdomo, Christian Walker, and Ketel Marte. Not a lot of teams have that luxury. As a whole, they have been running out a top-10 offense in baseball this year.

Their pitching staff is led by Zac Gallen, who has the second-best fWAR of any pitcher in the bigs, and has legitimately cemented himself as one of the game’s very best. He’s running out a sub-3 FIP in 104.1 innings of work. He’s backed in the rotation by Merrill Kelly, who has continued his run of very solid pitching in 2023 (3.22 ERA in 95 IP). This team is no joke in a division with several powerful rosters, and they have the foundational talent to back it up.

Second Place: San Francisco Giants (45-34)

Top Position Player: Thairo Estrada (2.8)
Top Pitcher: Logan Webb (1.8)

As they have gone 17-6 in June through Wednesday, the Giants have done so at the right time and surpassed (by a slim margin) the mighty Dodgers. As things stand, they’re just 2.5 games out of first place, and find themselves in the thick of things in the West.

Former Yankee Thairo Estrada has continued his excellent play, and has been one of the National League’s 10 most valuable players by fWAR in 2023. J.D. Davis and LaMonte Wade Jr. have been this team’s major offensive contributors, with 131 and 144 wRC+ marks respectively on the year. This has been a top-10 offense all season, and even better in the month of June (106 team wRC+).

The top of the San Fran rotation have done a solid job thus far, but the bullpen has experienced a resurgence in June. In that span, they have the second-best bullpen ERA in baseball (2.70), and back it up with the number-one ranked FIP. What was once a shortcoming on this roster has become a real strength this month.

Third Place: Los Angeles Dodgers (44-34)

Top Position Player: Freddie Freeman (3.1)
Top Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw (2.2)

As a couple of squads have surged in June, this month was not the time for the Dodgers to play sub-.500 ball, but alas. This team wasn’t quite as inspiring as it has been in recent years, and perhaps some of those weaknesses are showing.

The bats have gone cold, as the Dodgers have run out a team-wide 93 wRC+ in June, 19th in the majors. This is still a loaded lineup, but things haven’t clicked lately. Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts have been closer to average than superstar, and Max Muncy has either been hurt or hitting .086 in June.

FanGraphs’ playoff odds still have Los Angeles as the fairly clear favorite to win the division and/or make the postseason, but they don’t appear to be nearly as invincible as they have been in the recent past.

Fourth Place: San Diego Padres (37-42)

Top Position Player: Juan Soto & Fernando Tatis Jr. (2.8)

Top Pitcher: Michael Wacha (1.7)

One of this season’s biggest disappointments, the Padres have remained mediocre, playing .500 baseball this month. This is even with the excellent return of one of their superstars, Fernando Tatis Jr., who has been as good as ever. He owns a 196 wRC+ in June and has the second highest fWAR in the sport over that span.

Despite a top-five offense by wRC+ and the fourth best ERA in baseball in June, the Dads have not been winning as much as the need to. This is a supremely talented roster, with perhaps the most star power out of anyone, but they have a steep uphill climb ahead of them. 10.5 games out of the division, and given just 32.4 percent playoff odds, things look a lot different for these preseason World Series contenders.

Fifth Place: Colorado Rockies (31-50)

Top Position Player: Ryan McMahon (1.6)

Top Pitcher: Jake Bird (1.0)

And this brings us to the Rockies, and folks, things are bleak! They own the third-worst record in baseball, and the light at the end of the tunnel did not appear in June, a month in which they went 7-17.

They have a team ERA a full run worse than any other club (6.60), and are the only staff to have a negative fWAR for the month. If you were looking for hope with the bats, I must regretfully turn you away. They own a 74 wRC+ as a team in June, second-worst in baseball (guess who is dead last!), and much like the pitching, have the lowest fWAR as group as well.

This is sadly not all that new for the Rockies, and I sincerely hope they turn things around out there someday. But for now, they have firmly cemented themselves as basement-dwellers in a division otherwise filled with competitors.