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Dodgers not intimidated by NL West race: 'We're the best team in the division'

Managers often feign ignorance about their team’s place in the standings, but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sees little reason to ignore the race unfolding around his team. At this early juncture in the season, only five teams have won 40 games or more. Three reside in the National League West.

The Rockies lead the division, on pace for 102 wins heading into Saturday’s games. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks were tied just beneath Colorado, on pace for 100 wins. No other division can touch the National League West.

“As we do pay attention, I don’t think that anyone’s concerned,” Roberts said. “Because we realize we’re the best team in the division. We’ve still got to go out and play, but it’s clearly the best division in baseball. It’s going to be a fun September.”

The projection systems still view the Dodgers as the prohibitive favorite to win the West. FanGraphs gave the Dodgers an 83.7-percent chance to take the division, heading into Saturday. Baseball Prospectus offered a slightly more pessimistic view: 71.7 percent.

In the era of the second wild card, it is not unprecedented for a three-team logjam like this. In 2015, the Cardinals captured the National League Central with 100 victories. Pittsburgh finished second with 98 wins. The Cubs won 97 games — which merely earned them a spot on the road in the one-game playoff.

Roberts said he welcomed the competition. The Dodgers have won the division four seasons in a row.

“I think it’s a good thing,” he said. “Not that our team needs incentive to keep going and stay focused, but when you have teams in your division that you’re going to see nine more times and you’re playing for the division and the wild card and positioning yourself, yeah, it’s good for us.”

Roberts stays mum on Rose

The Reds celebrated the career of Pete Rose on Saturday afternoon and dedicated a statue to him outside Great American Ball Park. The statute depicted Rose diving into a base. After the ceremony, Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez regaled attendees at a news conference about their exploits as the Big Red Machine in the 1970s.

Bench and Perez, of course, are members of baseball’s Hall of Fame. Rose is not, as he remains banned from the sport after an investigation into his gambling, including betting on baseball as the manager of the Reds, in 1989. Rose has appealed the ban twice, but was rejected a second time by Commissioner Rob Manfred in 2015.

Roberts was asked a simple question: Does Rose belong in the Hall? He did not feel comfortable providing an answer.

“Wow,” Roberts said. “That’s a tough one. In my opinion, which doesn’t mean anything ... Am I going to get in trouble? Do managers give their opinions? That’s a good question, though. I don’t want to get in trouble.”

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter @McCulloughTimes

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