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Manny’s Suspension Opens Up The NL West

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Well, that was kind of a bombshell this morning, wasn’t it?

Manny Ramirez is out 50 games for violating MLB’s drug policy. We could go around in circles until July 3 (when Ramirez can play again) discussing how we lost even more innocence this morning in seeing a free-spirited player become marked for life, but there are four completely undeserving teams that are suddenly back in the race for the National League West that aren’t interested in the legacy of their opponents’ sluggers.

Just yesterday the indispensable Fangraphs called the race in favor of the Dodgers, and this seemed fair given how the season was unfolding after just one month. But now? Their lineup is in flux, their MVP is in limbo, and every pitcher wearing Sedona red is breathing a HUGE sigh of relief.

Ramirez’s numbers were absolutely deadly against the Snakes. In just 19 career games, Manny hit .483 in 60 at bats, with six home runs and an on-base percentage of — sit down for this — .600. His OPS is a hard-to-count-up-to 1.500 against Arizona. No wonder this race wasn’t fair from the start.

So is the playing field leveled? Well, slightly. The Dodgers have already taken four of five from Arizona, and with 13 more games to play, only three of them occur during Ramirez’s suspension. Unfortunately they need to pick up more than three games in the race, meaning they will require deep prayer to elicit a collective Dodgers clubhouse collapse.

Meanwhile, the Giants are in second place with a mere six-and-a-half-game deficit. Like Arizona, they’re not exactly bashing the cover off the ball either, but the production gap between the two lineups has suddenly been bridged as the result of a Golden Gate-sized pee test.

Of course, LA’s lineup is still solid. Andre Ethier and Orlando Hudson lead the way in the top of that batting order. Even with a glaring hole where Manny used to be, it may be enough.

I’m not saying the Dodgers will lose the division — you can stand behind your statement, Fangraphs, it’s as good as anyone’s right now — but suddenly it’s not as much of a foregone conclusion as previously thought yesterday.

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  • Sucks for LA, but not too many people were sold that LA’s starting rotation would hold up for 162 games.