Many detractors of Major League Baseball say that the game is hurt by a lack of parity which is due to a number of factors, i.e. payrolls, talent, etc.. And I would be inclined to agree that there is nowhere near the amount of parity in M.L.B. as there is in the N.F.L.. However, there is one division and one division alone in professional baseball that year in and year out is not only hotly contested, but is hotly contested by different teams every season: The N.L. West!
This weekend I read an intriguing article on the subject by Tracy Ringolsby of FoxSports.com, who broke down the ever-changing yet ever-competitive N.L. West. Moreover, Ringolsby discussed how despite their rebuilding efforts began in the middle of the 2011 season, the Padres are now building for a not so distant run at an N.L. West crown with the moves they have made over the last couple of months. It’s a great read for anybody that is interested, and is a fan of any of the N.L. West’s teams.
Then I began to think of the Padres’ chances in 2012 and beyond. As we have seen over the last decade or so, each of the teams in the N.L. West are close in terms of overall talent, as well as payroll (except the Dodgers of course but who knows what is happening to them). That being said, the difference between competing for a Division Title and finishing in 4th place is slimmer than any Division in baseball.
Moreover, there is usually always a surprise team that somehow competes each and every year. Take the last two for instance. In 2010, the Padres were supposedly the worst team in baseball to start the season, but they took the Division race down to the last day. Last year, the Diamondbacks weren’t thought to be tough competition for anybody, but with a few savvy front office moves and Kirk Gibson at the helm, they were one game away from the NLCS.
Will the litany of off-season moves by the Padres pay dividends and put them over the hump in their mediocre division sooner rather than later? Only time will tell. Yet it does give me hope that the N.L. West is the most winnable Division in baseball, and that Josh Byrnes is at least trying to make his team competitive. And being competitive in the N.L. West is all that is needed for a Division Title.
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