One game is all that separates the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the race for the National League West crown.
Both teams desperately needed to bring in a bat before the trade deadline, and the bitter rivals did exactly that.
#Phillies make trade official: Hunter Pence and cash to the San Francisco Giants for OF Nate Schierholtz, C Tommy Joseph and RHP Seth Rosin.— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) July 31, 2012
While the Dodgers acquired Shane Victorino (per Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown via Twitter):
Phillies have traded Victorino to Dodgers for Lindblom and Ethan martin— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) July 31, 2012
It's almost strange to see the Philadelphia Phillies gut two-thirds of their outfield for prospects and financial relief, but both NL West teams sure are happy they did.
Now that the trade deadline rumors have been put to bed and we know who is going where and who isn't, it's time to evaluate which of these two teams improved the most.
We'll start off with the Dodgers and Victorino.
There's no doubt that Victorino is an effective catalyst at the top of the order, and the Dodgers certainly needed a stopgap leadoff hitter while Dee Gordon recovers from a thumb injury.
He's more than a stopgap though, and should turn out to be a quality guy for the Dodgers. That is, if he can up his on-base percentage a little bit.
The "Flyin' Hawaiian" is getting on base at a respectable .324 clip, but if he wants be known as the midseason acquisition that injected life into the Dodgers lineup, that number will need to climb.
Los Angeles has virtually nobody behind Victorino other than Matt Kemp and Andre Eithier, but Victorino will be seeing plenty of quality pitches, much like he did with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard behind him.
He's a good fit for the Dodgers, but is he going to have more of an impact than his former teammate?
Pence was once regarded as the best young players in the entire league back during his days with the Houston Astros. He's been solid and had a career year in 2011, but he hasn't evolved into one of the premier players in the league.
That being said, he's going to be great for the Giants.
Bruce Bochy desperately needed a guy to put in the two-hole ahead of Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey, or in the five-hole to protect them. It makes more sense for Pence to be slotted into the fifth spot in the lineup, as there is hardly anybody in the middle-third of the order to hit behind Posey.
Pence has showed solid power, albeit in the ban box that is Citizens Bank Park, but he'll be able to find the gaps at AT&T Park easily.
Both Victorino and Pence fill needs for their new clubs, but Pence is going to have more of an impact on the anemic Giants offense. San Francisco needs Pence's power more than Los Angeles needs Victorino's speed at the top of the order.
Pence is a better player and better masks the shortcomings of the Giants than Victorino does for the Dodgers.
It's really a no-brainer.