For the record, the standings currently look like this:
LA Dodgers: 56-46, -
SD Padres: 54-46, 1 GB
Arizona Diamondbacks: 54-48, 2 GB
Colorado Rockies: 51-50, 4.5 GB
SF Giants: A long way back
So it would appear to be a 4-team race right now and should wind up being one of the most interesting stories as we wind down the year. At the All-Star break I was pretty strongly on the Padres bandwagon to win the division, but now I'm a lot less sure.
First off let me say that even though Arizona is right in the race, I stand by my thoughts that they will slowly drop out. They've just had great luck in 1-run games, and that doesn't tend to hold up. Their pythagorean record is 48-54, which suggests that they should be closer to San Fran than to the top of the division. They might continue to overplay the pythagorean record if The Big Unit can stay healthy and some of their young guys can start hitting better, but I wouldn't bet on it.
I also don't think the Rockies have much of a chance. They've played well, but they are what they are... a .500 team. They have a nice, young core, but I don't see them competing with the Dodgers or Padres.
Which leaves those 2 teams... I still think it is a 2-team race between the Dodgers and Padres. Both teams are very solid, and either of them could win the Wildcard if they don't win the division. The Dodgers are obviously 1 game up in the standings, while the expected records (based on run differential) suggests the Padres are a little bit better.
I think this is a race that will come down to just a couple of games between them... I wouldn't put any money on it because I think any type of injury of string of bad luck can change the tide. The teams are pretty even. However, if I had to choose, I would stick with the Padres for now... their pitching is a little better, and I think their lineup is getting better (and the addition of Bradley should help. So I'll take San Diego, but I'm not too confident about it right now.
Who do you think will win the NL West?