The Dodgers are favored to win the NL West. Or they’re not


The Dodgers remain the favorites to win the National League West. Or not. Depends where you look.

On the last day of April, the Dodgers awoke in fourth place in the NL West, four games under .500 and seven games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers open a four-game series in Arizona on Monday.

Still early, as the Dodgers would tell you? Or getting late early, as Yogi Berra might have told you?


We checked with two leading analytical websites, both of which post daily playoff odds.

On Monday, Fangraphs gave the Dodgers a 63% chance to win the NL West. Baseball Prospectus gave the Dodgers a 24% chance.

Hmm. We called David Appelman of Fangraphs and Rob McQuown of Baseball Prospectus, and it turns out each site determines its daily odds similarly. The sites project how well each player will perform and how much he will play, and computers then simulate the rest of the season 10,000 times.

“This far in, it wouldn’t change the individual player projections that much,” Appelman said. “If you get to August and they’re still slightly under .500, it’s going to matter a lot more.”

Neither Appelman nor McQuown was entirely sure what to make of the difference in odds.

“We put in a pretty good adjustment for the [new Chase Field] humidor,” McQuown said. “That gave the Diamondbacks a boost to their pitching.”

At the start of the season, Fangraphs also liked the Dodgers more than Baseball Prospectus did — an 85% chance to win the NL West versus what appears to be a 65% chance.

How about history? On the one hand, as Eric Stephen of True Blue LA noted, the Dodgers never have finished April as many as seven games behind in the NL West. On the other hand, in 2013, the Dodgers trailed the Diamondbacks by 9-½ games in June and still won the division.

Even Baseball Prospectus, which now favors Arizona to win the NL West, still projects the Dodgers with a better record than Arizona over the balance of the season, a playoff spot, and the third-best record in the NL, bettered only by the Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs.

“I still think the Dodgers are great,” McQuown said.

The Dodgers’ record has yet to show it.

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin