National League West

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NL West
League National League
Sport Major League Baseball
Founded 1969
No. of teams 5
Most recent champion(s) Los Angeles Dodgers (12th title)
Most titles Los Angeles Dodgers (12)

The National League West Division is one of the three divisions of the National League of Major League Baseball in North America (including Canada). This Division was formed for the 1969 season when the National League expanded to 12 teams by adding the San Diego Padres and the Montreal Expos. For purpose of keeping a regular-season of 162 games, half of the teams were put into the new East Division and half into the new West Division. Within each division, the teams played 18 games each against their five division mates (90 games), and also 12 games against the teams in the opposite division (72 games), totaling 162 games.

Despite the geography, the owners of the Chicago Cubs insisted that this team be placed into the East Division along with the teams in New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Also, the owners of the St. Louis Cardinals wanted that team to be in the same division with their natural rivals of the Cubs. Given all of this, the owners of the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds consented to being placed into the West Division, even though Atlanta and Cincinnati are both in the Eastern Time Zone. Hence, the West Division had teams spread all the way from the East to the Pacific Coast, and scattered over four time zones. The East Division was spread over the Eastern Time Zone and the Central Time Zone - despite the fact that the National League had six teams in the Eastern Time Zone and six teams spread between the Central Time Zone and the Pacific Time Zone.

All of this increased the traveling distances and times for all of the teams, and it also made radio broadcasting and TV broadcasts of the games more difficult to schedule. The Braves and the Reds had to travel all the way to California three times during each baseball season, and the three teams in California had to travel to Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Houston three times also. Sometimes, the trouble could be alleviated for them by playing some games in Chicago, St. Louis, or Pittsburgh on the same long road trips.

First season[edit]

The very first baseball season of division play resulted in what might be considered by many[who?] to be two of the best pennant races in pro baseball history. In the National League West, most of the teams battled for the divisional championship - with only the expansion team, the San Diego Padres, failing to be a contender. The remaining five teams were separated by as few as one-and-one-half games in the standings on August 18, despite the Houston Astros team having lost 20 of its first 24 games.

Beginning in mid-August the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers started collapsing, leaving the Braves, the Reds, and the San Francisco Giants in contention. Following a very-long hot streak in July, August, and September, the Braves clinched the divisional championship by winning their next-to-last game. The Giants finished in a close second place. One of the main factors in the big surge by the Braves was that the slugging outfielder Rico Carty returned to the team after missing the first half of the season while he was recovering from tuberculosis. Carty immediately resumed his starring role, adding to the powerful offensive line-up of the Braves that also featured the sluggers Hank Aaron and Orlando Cepeda and the good singles hitter Félix Millán who was on base to score a lot of runs. Aaron finished in third place for the N.L. Most Valuable Player Award, and the starting pitcher Phil Niekro finished in second place for the N.L. Cy Young Award.

Perhaps this latter pennant race was overshadowed by that of the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs, with the Mets coming back from trailing by nine-and-one-half games near midseason to overtake the Chicago Cubs for the East championship. The big star for the Mets was their starting pitcher Tom Seaver, who won the Cy Young Award. The so-called "Miracle Mets" won the first National League Championship Series over the Braves three games to none, and then the Mets defeated the Baltimore Orioles four games to one in the World Series in October 1969 — in the Mets' first appearance in any playoff series whatsoever.

Divisional membership[edit]

Current members[edit]

Former members[edit]

Division lineups[edit]

Place cursor over year for division champ or World Series team.

Years
NL West Division[A]
69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres
Atlanta Braves[C]  
Cincinnati Reds[C]  
Houston Astros[C]  
  Colorado Rockies[B]
  Arizona Diamondbacks[D]
NL West Division[A]
05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
     Team not in division      Division Won World Series      Division Won NL Championship
A The creation of the division with the expansion of the league - with the Padres added.
B With the Rockies added as an expansion team.
C With the Braves moved to Eastern Division and the Reds and the Astros moved to the Central Division
D With the Diamondbacks added as an expansion team.

Championships[edit]

Overall, the National League West has recorded a 27–30 won-lost record in postseason series. The Division Champions have had an overall record of 29–36, winning sixteen National League pennants and six World Series championships. The wildcard teams from this division have had a record of 4–3, winning two pennants (the 2002 San Francisco Giants and the 2007 Colorado Rockies), but no World Series.

Division champions[edit]

Before the forming of a third division in both leagues in 1994, the winners of each division competed in a best-of-five series, with the series being lengthened by two possible games in 1985 to a best-of-seven series, dubbed the "League Championship Series" to determine the winner of the league pennant. This format was to be changed in 1994, though it was not carried out until 1995 due to the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike that started on August 12, 1994. There was the addition of two further teams in the playoffs in each league. This has led to the creation of a "Division Series" round of the playoffs, in which two best-of-five series are conducted to determine the participants of the League Championship Series. As before, the winners of each league's pennant compete in the best-of-seven World Series to determine the champion of Major League Baseball.

  • Team names link to the season in which each team played
Year Winner Record % Playoffs
1969 Atlanta Braves 93–69 .574 Lost NLCS to New York, 3-0
1970 Cincinnati Reds 102–60 .630 Lost World Series to Baltimore, 4-1
1971 San Francisco Giants 90–72 .556 Lost NLCS to Pittsburgh, 3-1
1972 Cincinnati Reds 95–59 .617 Lost World Series to Oakland, 4-3
1973 Cincinnati Reds 99–63 .611 Lost NLCS to New York, 3-2
1974 Los Angeles Dodgers 102–60 .630 Lost World Series to Oakland, 4-1
1975 Cincinnati Reds 108–54 .667 Won World Series over Boston, 4-3
1976 Cincinnati Reds 102–60 .630 Won World Series over New York, 4-0
1977 Los Angeles Dodgers 98–64 .605 Lost World Series to New York, 4-2
1978 Los Angeles Dodgers 95–67 .586 Lost World Series to New York, 4-2
1979 Cincinnati Reds 90–71 .559 Lost NLCS to Pittsburgh, 3-0
1980 Houston Astros* 93–70 .571 Lost NLCS to Philadelphia Phillies, 3-2
1981 Los Angeles Dodgers 63–47 .573 Won World Series over New York, 4-2
1982 Atlanta Braves 89–73 .549 Lost NLCS to St. Louis, 3-0
1983 Los Angeles Dodgers 91–71 .562 Lost NLCS to Philadelphia, 3-1
1984 San Diego Padres 92–70 .568 Lost World Series to Detroit, 4-1
1985 Los Angeles Dodgers 95–67 .586 Lost NLCS to St. Louis, 4-2
1986 Houston Astros 96–66 .593 Lost NLCS to New York, 4-2
1987 San Francisco Giants 90–72 .556 Lost NLCS to St. Louis, 4-3
1988 Los Angeles Dodgers 94–67 .584 Won World Series over Oakland, 4-1
1989 San Francisco Giants 92–70 .568 Lost World Series to Oakland, 4-0
1990 Cincinnati Reds 91–71 .562 Won World Series over Oakland, 4-0
1991 Atlanta Braves 94–68 .580 Lost World Series to Minnesota, 4-3
1992 Atlanta Braves 98–64 .605 Lost World Series to Toronto, 4-2
1993 Atlanta Braves 104–58 .642 Lost NLCS to Philadelphia, 4-2
1995 Los Angeles Dodgers 78–66 .542 Lost NLDS to Cincinnati, 3-0
1996 San Diego Padres 91–71 .562 Lost NLDS to St. Louis, 3-0
1997 San Francisco Giants 90–72 .556 Lost NLDS to Florida, 3-0
1998 San Diego Padres 98–64 .605 Lost World Series to New York, 4-0
1999 Arizona Diamondbacks 100–62 .617 Lost NLDS to New York, 3-1
2000 San Francisco Giants 97–65 .599 Lost NLDS to New York 3-1
2001 Arizona Diamondbacks 92–70 .568 Won World Series over New York, 4-3
2002 Arizona Diamondbacks 98–64 .605 Lost NLDS to St. Louis, 3-0
2003 San Francisco Giants 100–61 .621 Lost NLDS to Florida, 3-1
2004 Los Angeles Dodgers 93–69 .574 Lost NLDS to St. Louis, 3-1
2005 San Diego Padres 82–80 .506 Lost NLDS to St. Louis, 3-0
2006 San Diego Padres†† 88–74 .543 Lost NLDS to St. Louis, 3-1
2007 Arizona Diamondbacks 90–72 .556 Lost NLCS to Colorado, 4-0
2008 Los Angeles Dodgers 84–78 .519 Lost NLCS to Philadelphia, 4-1
2009 Los Angeles Dodgers 95–67 .586 Lost NLCS to Philadelphia, 4-1
2010 San Francisco Giants 92–70 .568 Won World Series over Texas, 4-1
2011 Arizona Diamondbacks 94–68 .580 Lost NLDS to Milwaukee, 3-2
2012 San Francisco Giants 94–68 .580 Won World Series over Detroit, 4-0
2013 Los Angeles Dodgers 92–70 .568 Lost NLCS to St. Louis, 4-2

* - Defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in a one game playoff for the division title, 7–1.

† - Due to the 1981 Major League Baseball strike, the season was split. Los Angeles won the first half and defeated second-half champion Houston (61–49) in the postseason.
The Cincinnati Reds had the best record in the division (66-42) overall but due to the split season did not qualify for the playoffs.

§ - Due to the players' strike starting August 12, no official winner was awarded. Los Angeles was leading at the strike.

†† - The San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers finished the 2006 season tied for first place with identical records. San Diego won the season series against Los Angeles and was awarded the tie-breaker; Los Angeles was awarded the wild-card berth. Had a team from another division won the wild card, a one-game playoff would have decided the division champion.

Wild-card winners produced[edit]

See List of National League Wild Card winners (since 1994)

The wild card is given to the team in each league with the best record that did not win its division and was first introduced in 1994. The system, however, was not implemented until the following season, as a player strike prematurely ended the 1994 season. Since its implementation, three different NL West teams have won the wild card, on six different occasions.

Year Winner Record % GB Playoffs
1995 Colorado Rockies 77–67 .535 1 Lost NLDS to Atlanta, 3-1
1996 Los Angeles Dodgers 90–72 .556 1 Lost NLDS to Atlanta, 3-0
2002 San Francisco Giants 95–66 .590 2.5 Lost World Series to Anaheim, 4-3
2006 Los Angeles Dodgers 88–74 .543 0 Lost NLDS to New York, 3-0
2007 Colorado Rockies 90–73* .552 0.5 Lost World Series to Boston, 4-0
2009 Colorado Rockies 92–70 .568 3 Lost NLDS to Philadelphia, 3-1

* The Colorado Rockies played the San Diego Padres in a wild card tie-breaker game after both teams finished the season with the same record, 89–73. The Rockies defeated the Padres, 9–8, in 13 innings. A wild card tie-breaker game is still considered part of the regular season, and thus, the Rockies' win made it their 90th victory of the season - a franchise record(at the time).

Division titles won by team[edit]

Team Number of Championships Won Last Year Won Year (s)
Los Angeles Dodgers 12 2013 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1995, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013
San Francisco Giants 8 2012 1971, 1987, 1989, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2010, 2012
Cincinnati Reds 7 1990 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1990
San Diego Padres 5 2006 1984, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2006
Atlanta Braves 5 1993 1969, 1982, 1991, 1992, 1993
Arizona Diamondbacks 5 2011 1999, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2011
Houston Astros 2 1986 1980, 1986
Colorado Rockies 0 N/A

indicates no longer in division since 1993

See also[edit]

References[edit]