How Many Games Will It Take To Win The NL West In 2013?

So the Dodgers swept the Giants and people are already starting to re-order those World Series tickets. Not so fast there. The Dodgers have a long way to go before we start talking about them being contenders again. Still a sweep of the evil Giants was a wonderful treat. I’m sure nobody expected the Dodgers to sweep the Giants. I was hoping for two out of three, but a sweep was more than I or anybody else could have ever expected. The Dodgers have won five in a row now and are enjoying their first real winning streak of the season. The Dodgers have some good momentum going, and momentum is very important during the Baseball season. For the first time this year, we are feeling a sense of at least some kind of success.

The clutch sweep filled us with pure unfiltered joy. It was as beautiful and poetic as a Robert Frost poem, and made us all want to well….scream and shout…….

I love you Britney. Please marry me.

(Hellooooo Britney). The Dodgers are now only six games back and their record stands at 35-42 coming into the series against Philadelphia which begins tonight.

The question I hear so often asked is about how many wins it will take to win the NL West this season. I hear this a lot. People say “It’s only going to take 85 wins to win the west this year” Oh really? Is that so now?

This couldn’t be further from the truth. I know it appears that way at the moment. Yes the NL west is a weak division. Yes Arizona leads the division with a 41-36 record, and a .532 winning percentage. Yes only six games separates the Snakes from the last place team, which is the Dodgers of course. Still I could bet you dollars to donuts the division winner finishes with 90 wins. By the end of the season, someone will have 90.

This happens a lot of years. Most years it always looks like the division is mediocre even through July, and into the all-star break. But I can tell you this, that will change. There is a lot of games left, and more than likely, one or two teams will start to pull away from the pack.

If you remember people said the same thing about last year’s NL West race. Last season the Dodgers were leading for most of the first half. Everybody said the same thing. “It’s only going to take 85 wins this year.” And the familiar “The NL west is a weak division” quote. Yeah I get it. The NL West isn’t a strong division right now. It’s not the NL west, but riddle me this batman, did it happen last year?

Why no it did not. That’s because Matt Kemp crashed into a wall in Colorado, the Dodgers slumped, the Giants got hot and boom, the Giant’s 94 wins were plenty enough to win the division. And the season before that in 2011, the Arizona Diamonbacks won 94 games as well, to win the division by a hefty margin. The season before that, the Giants won 92 games to finish in first.

As a matter of fact, the last time a team won the NL West, with 85 wins or less, was the Dodgers themselves. They did it back in 2008, when they finished 84-78 and eventually went on to the NLCS that year. As a matter of fact, since the creation of Division play, and the NL west, only three teams have ever won the division with less than 90 wins. Of course not counting strike shortened seasons of 1981, and 1995. (82 Braves, 05 and 06 Padres, 08 Dodgers)

1995Los Angeles Dodgers78–66.542
1996San Diego Padres91–71.562
1997San Francisco Giants90–72.556
1998San Diego Padres98–64.605
1999Arizona Diamondbacks100–62.617
2000San Francisco Giants97–65.599
2001Arizona Diamondbacks92–70.568
2002Arizona Diamondbacks98–64.605
2003San Francisco Giants100–61.621
2004Los Angeles Dodgers93–69.574
2005San Diego Padres82–80.506
2006San Diego Padres88–74.543
2007Arizona Diamondbacks90–72.556
2008Los Angeles Dodgers84–78.519
2009Los Angeles Dodgers95–67.586
2010San Francisco Giants92–70.568
2011Arizona Diamondbacks94–68.580
2012San Francisco Giants94–68.580

 

Only two teams have ever won the division with 85 wins or less. Check out the table above that lists all of the NL West division winners since 1995, with records and winning percentages. As you can see above, it just doesn’t happen very often ever.

So no, it’s not going to take 85 wins to win the NL West this season, and yes it will take at least 90 wins to win this thing. I know that at some point, at least one of those teams is going to get hot, and will get to 90 wins by the end of the season. It may be the Dodgers, or it may not. The point is, it normally takes 90 wins to win a division. Most of the time 90 doesn’t even cut it. Besides, why leave anything to chance. 94 wins gives the division winner a comfortable margin. I guess we’ll discuss it when and if we get there. In the meantime, 90 wins is a much better goal to shoot for. 90 just sounds sexier doesn’t it? Almost as sexy as Britney. Almost.