Harry How/Getty ImagesThe Los Angeles Dodgers are no longer the favorites to win the National League West with the Arizona Diamondbacks 2.5 games ahead of the reigning National League champions.OddsShark shared updated lines from Bovada which have the Diamondbacks listed at +135 (bet $100 to win $135) compared to the Dodgers at +190. That is a drastic difference from July 24 odds stemming from the same source http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authe...tt-joyce-jersey , which listed Los Angeles as a heavy favorite even in a tight division battle:OddsShark OddsSharkUpdated odds to win the NL West (BovadaOfficial):D-backs (72-58) +135Dodgers (70-61) +190Rockies (71-59) +210Giants (65-67) +8000OddsShark OddsSharkUpdated odds to win the NL West (BovadaOfficial):Dodgers -250D-backs +375Giants +900Rockies +1100Padres +90000While Arizona has more favorable odds than the Dodgers to win the National League West, those setting the lines for the World Series are less bullish on the Diamondbacks. As Covers shared, LV SuperBook has the Dodgers listed at 12-1 to capture the championship and the Diamondbacks just behind them at 14-1.Covers CoversUpdated MLB futures odds from LVSuperBook to win the 2018 World Series. em7GN2DbrqArizona and Los Angeles have to worry about more than each other in the race for the division crown and playoff positioning, as the Colorado Rockies are a mere one game behind the Diamondbacks and 1.5 games ahead of the Dodgers.The National League Central is also an issue for those NL West teams looking to make the playoffs, as the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers occupy the two wild-card positions with Milwaukee enjoying a one-game advantage over Colorado for the last postseason spot.It is a testament to Los Angeles' recent track record it still has fairly favorable odds to win the division and World Series as it is in third place in the division and is on the outside looking in at the playoff picture this late in the season. It won the NL West in each of the last five years, dropped last year's World Series in a heartbreaking seven games and features notable players such as Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner.However, the Diamondbacks are 8-4 against the Dodgers and 7-5 against the Rockies this season and have set the standard in the division to this point. If they continue taking care of business in the seven head-to-head games they have remaining against each division rival, Arizona will be in ideal position to win the NL West and play into October. When Major League Baseball broke for the All-Star Game about a month ago, it seemed safe to take some things for granted about the National League.For one, the NL Central race was strictly between the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers. For another, the NL MVP race was mainly between Nolan Arenado Glenn Hubbard Jersey , Freddie Freeman and Javier Baez.Then Matt Carpenter happened.Thanks to a wayward fastball that struck his right hand on August 15, the St. Louis Cardinals' 32-year-old infielder has been quiet of late. Yet his numbers since the All-Star break still boggle the mind. In 31 games, Carpenter has put up a 1.106 OPS and slammed an NL-high 14 home runs.Couple this with the strong work that Carpenter was doing prior to the break, and he now boasts a .957 OPS and 33 homers. The latter is already a career high, as well as the most in the NL this year. The former translates to a 159 OPS+ that also leads the Senior Circuit.Meanwhile, the temperature of the Cardinals has mirrored that of Carpenter's bat.Their 20-11 record since the break is the best of any National League team, and it's done wonders for their standing in the NL playoff chase. At the break, the Cardinals were 7.5 games out of first in the NL Central and four games outside the second wild-card spot. Now, they're four games out in the division and a half-game out in the wild card.This isn't all Carpenter's doing. In retrospect, the firing of manager Mike Matheny looks like the removal of a weight off the team's back. Also, St. Louis' bullpen has shaped up with an MLB-low2.07 ERA in August.It's nonetheless fair to surmise that the Cardinals wouldn't be doing this without Carpenter. And while this isn't an altogether unfamiliar position for the three-time All-Star, it's to his credit that the driver's seat is now all his.Carpenter emerged as one of the NL's better hitters between 2012 and 2016 Rickey Henderson Jersey , racking up a 130 OPS+. But he sunk to a 120 OPS+, and he began 2018 on track to decline even further. He had a .579 OPS at the end of April, and it was as low as .739 as late as June 7.But in 64 games since then? Try a staggering .306/.431/.711 slash line with 26 homers.The popular explanation for Carpenter's ongoing surge has something to do with homemade salsa鈥攚hich, to be fair, does look mighty tasty. Otherwise, the man himself can't really articulate how he's suddenly turned into a master slugger."It's not the hitter I was. It's not the hitter I've ever been. I'm just developing into somebody I've never tried to be. I don't really have an explanation for that," he said, according to Rick Hummel of theSt. Louis Post-Dispatch.From the outside looking in, however, the sluggerification of Matt Carpenter appears to be a case of a really good hitter deciding to assert himself.Salsa notwithstanding, Carpenter is probably best known for his fondness for efficiency. To wit, his 36.7 swing percentage since 2012 is the lowest of any hitter with at least 3 http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authe...h-hunter-jersey ,000 plate appearances. He also doesn't like wasting batted balls, preferring well-hit balls in the air.There's a fine line between patience and passivity, however, and Carpenter was on the wrong side of it earlier in 2018. His Swing% was down to 35.4, and that covered just a 54.7 Swing% against pitches in the strike zone.Carpenter hasn't exactly turned into Vladimir Guerrero since then, but those numbers are up to 38.9 and 60.2, respectively. His batted ball profile has also changed in ways that are conducive to maximum power:Carpenter has been better about getting the ball off the ground and hitting it hard. He's also been making more frequent use of his pull side, which is the best avenue for slugging.This isn't happening because he's been getting a curiously consistent diet of hanging breaking balls to feast on. Rather, it's happening because he's made mincemeat salsa of fastballs.Through June 7, Carpenter was swinging at just 31.9 percent of fastballs and hitting them at a 20.4-degree launch angle. Since June 8, he's up to a 39.2 swing percentage and a 21.7-degree launch angle against them.He's also gone from inside-outing fastballs to left-center field:Image courtesy of BaseballSavant.MLB.comTo driving them to right field:Image courtesy of BaseballSavant.MLB.comLo and behold, Carpenter has gone from slugging .435 against fastballs to slugging .772 against them. The latter is tops among all hitters since June 8.This doesn't mean Carpenter can't be stopped. Indeed Rollie Fingers Jersey , he's in the process of being stopped. He had been riding a five-game hitless streak before a 1-for-4 showing Sunday against the Brewers. The longer this slump continues, the more vulnerable the Cardinals' postseason odds and Carpenter's own MVP chances will become.But for now, both look pretty good.According to FanGraphs, St. Louis' postseason odds hit a nadir at seven percent on July 31. They've since shot up to 47.5 percent.For his part, Carpenter is front and center in the National League MVP race. He's been the NL's best hitter overall, as well as one of the hottest of the second half. As a bonus, eight of his 14 second-half homers have been either tying or go-ahead shots.If the next month-and-a-half is anything like the last month for Carpenter and the Cardinals, they're going to return to the postseason and he's going to have both numbers and a narrative going for him in the NL MVP race.Not bad for a player and a team that seemed dead and buried not too long ago. Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.