I took a look at the skill of each player on each roster and concluded the Dodgers ought to run away with the division. The Giants started off winning way more games at a way faster rate than I thought they would, the Dodgers way slower. But lately, talent has been shining through.
The Dodgers have more top end talent and more depth. Depth is important for two reasons. First, you never know who's going to overperform or underperform expectations, but if you have several guys that can carry a team, one or another probably will (Adrian Gonzalez slumps but Yasiel Puig is hot). Second, injuries happen. How the roster can reconfigure around an injury is critical (Carl Crawford is out but they still have four solid outfielders).
Do I still feel like the Dodgers will coast into the playoffs? Well, I thought the Dodgers had the talent to be a 98-win team, and the Giants an 83-win team. According to the individual achievements of the players so far, the Dodgers are on pace to be a 92-win team and the Giants a 81-win team. BUT, because of luck, timing and other things that are not likely to continue, the Dodgers and Giants have won about the same number of games, both on a 90-win pace. I was probably a bit ambitious with my Dodgers predictions, but right on with my Giants ones. The Giants are not very good. To be a good baseball team, you need many good and very good baseball players, and the Giants just don't have that. Given what's already in the books for this season so far, mix that with the talent-levels going forward (of course we have yet to see what the trade deadline brings) and we see the Dodgers finishing with maybe 92 wins, and the Giants 85.
Here's a helfpul talent visualization. The horizontal axis is each player's projected (by me) WAR. The vertical axis is the average of the FanGraphs and baseball-reference WAR achieved to date, scaled to a full season. Click to see it at a larger scale. The blue names are Dodgers hitters, the red names Dodger pitchers. The orange names are Giants hitters, the black names Giants pitchers. You can see who has over and underachieved (underachievement comes in some cases from time missed due to injury, and you wouldn't expect the same people to be injured in the second half of course). By the way, "Staff" is the WAR due to pitcher hitting (it counts, and both teams are relatively good at it).
So bottom line, I'm feeling pretty good about the projections and about the Dodgers. Most of the misses in individual projection are due to playing time, with a few surprises nobody could see coming. And in the aggregate, the projections are pretty on. The Dodgers meanwhile continue to look substantially stronger than the Giants and that ought to play out over the next 75 games.
Photo credit: File photo