Let's read the following all together, slowly and carefully, so we all believe the madness: The D-Backs are in first place.
(Checks date) Yep, it's August. And the Ari-freakin-zona Diamondbacks are first in the National League West. And yet they're three games below .500 (52-55).
By percentage points they lead the San Diego Padres, who are no games behind but have lost 13 of 16 since the All-Star break.
Have the Padres played anybody good? Only the Cardinals, which one of their wins have come against.
Swept by the Mets. Swept by the Phillies. Swept by Cincinnati. Split a series against Arizona.
Going into the second half they were 7 games above .500. Now they're three below.
Have they sustained injuries? No more than the next team. The only crucial player currently hurt is pitcher Adam Eaton. In fact, on July 18 they returned two position players from the DL — second baseman Mark Loretta and first baseman Phil Nevin — and on July 11 Ramon Hernandez returned from injury. Also before the break they traded for former Yankee reliever Paul Quantrill and signed journeyman pitcher Pedro Astacio.
In fact, during a relatively quiet trading deadline the Fathers may have been one of the most active. After receiving Quantrill at the beginning of July, they traded for Reds third baseman Joe Randa to replace the slumping Sean Burroughs. And on July 31 they traded away Nevin to the Rangers for pitcher Chan Ho Park, after Nevin vetoed a trade that would have shipped him to Baltimore for Aruban knight/pitcher Sidney Ponson.
All they had to do was probably play .500 baseball for the rest of the season. But now they've taken a turn for the worse and now they're in a tight pennant race.
I still think the Padres have the tools, above any other team, to win that division. But it's not just the D-Backs they have to worry about.