>The NL North is the most entertaining division race to watch in the National League. A tight race from top to bottom, the Cubs have skipped past the stumbling Brewers despite not outscoring their opponents. Their secret? The Cubs are 19-9 in one-run games. The Brewers meanwhile socked 245 homeruns last year, good for fifth in the league. They have just 92 so far, well below the league average.
Surprise stat: The Brewers starting rotation has thrown seven complete games this season, more than any other team in the league.
The Pirates have a pretty good headlock on the NL North as of the All-Star break. Future Hall-of-Famer Yovani Fuentes continues to shoulder the offense, reaching base more than half the time and posting a slugging percentage just south of .800. The Phillies meanwhile, expected to contend, lost three major league starters to long-term injuries and have fallen to last place.
Surprise stat: Limiting your opponent’s offense is one-way to win. The Pirates stingy pitching staff has yielded just 85 home runs on the year. Only one other staff in the league has given up less.
The NL South is being stolen by the unsuspecting St. Louis Cardinals, due more to the stumbles of the Braves, Marlins and Astros than anything else. The Cardinals are the only team in the major leagues with more than 200 stolen bases on the season. The Atlanta Braves are the mirror of the Cardinals minus the speed: both clubs boast a top five pitching staff while ranking in the bottom five in homeruns and slugging percentage.
Surprise stat: Astros teammates Don Ramirez and Jonathan Nix each have five triples a piece, making them tied with, among others, one other pair of teammates for the league lead.
The LA Dodgers are once again a dominant force in the NL West, building a 15 game lead over the second place Padres who were 49-42 at the All-Star break. The Padres were off to an equally hot start but fell victim to a nine-game losing streak right before the break and lost ground to its division rival, which went 6-3 over that same span.
Surprise stat: The NL West is filled with pitching. The San Francisco Giants pitching staff has tossed two shutouts this year. Only one team has thrown more.