For quite some time now, the N.L. West has had a very odd distinction to it - There is no alpha dog. Actually that's not quite right. The division has seen several alpha dogs, only to watch each one of them disappear almost as quickly as they arrived on the scene. The chart below monitoring the fates of the last ten teams to win 90 or more games in the division illustrates this perfectly. All of these squads (sans the 2010 Padres) went to the postseason, but so far none of them have been able to get back there the following season - And in fact, none of them have been particularly close, all losing a minimum of six more games the following season.
The 2013 Giants will have chance to change this pattern, but history is working against them here, and if Heltonfan's projection system is anywhere close to being right, they will fit right in with the other nine teams on this list.
By itself, this strange disappearing act of seemingly good teams makes the N.L. West interesting, but things only get more bizarre when you look at the cellar. In the next chart, we see the opposite extreme - The last ten teams to win fewer than 70 games in the N.L. West.
With the exception of 2002 Padres and the 2004 Rockies (both of who were no more than three years away from a postseason birth anyway) all of these teams (so far anyway) have improved their win totals by at least nine games the following season. Three of them even the division with 90 more victories.
Perhaps the wildest numbers of all though sit at the bottom of the third columns in these graphs. It's one thing for division winners to fall back and for cellar dwellers to rise up, but if you take the last nine teams to win 90 more games in the N.L. West and compare their follow up seasons with the follow up seasons of the last nine teams in the N.L. West to win fewer than 70 games, you find something truly remarkable. The teams who have failed to win 70 games in a season actually have a slightly higher average win total the following season than the teams who have won 90 more more games the year before.
Yes, change seems to be the only constant in this division - And after 2012, I fully embrace it!!!