Who will win the NL West? Inside MLB’s most thrilling division race

  • Joined ESPN in 2016 to cover the Los Angeles Rams
  • Previously covered the Angels for MLB.com

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres had the look of teams that could potentially be the two very best of the sport when the 2021 season began. At the start of the second half, neither even leads their division.

That’s how dominant the National League West has become.

The Dodgers and Padres have basically been as advertised, but the San Francisco Giants, a team in transition, went into the All-Star break with the best record in Major League Baseball, creating a logjam at the top of the NL West that should spill into an exhilarating final stretch of the regular season.

The Giants, Dodgers and Padres all fall within the top five in run-differential and the top eight in winning percentage. Over the past 20 years, there has been only one instance — with the 2015 NL Central — that three teams from the same division finished within the top five winning percentages, a realistic outlook for 2021.

The Dodgers (99.5% playoff odds, according to FanGraphs), Giants (91.5%) and Padres (91%) all possess highly favorable odds of reaching the postseason. But only one can win the division and thus avoid the dreaded one-game playoff.

“It’s gonna be exciting the last couple months of the season trying to chase down the division,” Justin Turner, a key cog in a Dodgers team that has practically owned the NL West for nearly a decade. “It should be a lot of good baseball.”

Below is a look at where these teams stand heading into the second half.

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