Time for the National League and Playoffs/Awards Preview! (See Part 1 for the American League preview.)
The National League East is woefully weak; they have a potential for three teams below .500 and could have two teams will 100 losses. The Miami Marlins are pitiful; they lost 100 games last year and haven’t done much to change that. Giancarlo Stanton is an animal and he is health. He will have a great season and as a whole the team should be slightly better. The Phillies are ancient; 5 of their starters are over 34 years old and their rotation is nearly as old. They are going to have one of the worst records in baseball.
The Mets are pretty terrible too and one of their most exciting players is hurt (Matt Harvey). Not much will change for the Mets this year. The Nationals are strong this year; they have two of the youngest, greatest players in Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. They will do better than the 86 games they won last year. The Braves won the division last year, but the spring has been rough. Two of their best pitchers are out for the season, but still have a lot of talent.
Prediction: Strasburg will contend for the Cy Young, but Harper will win the MVP (it’s the year of young outfielders). The Nationals are poised to win the division with the Braves injuries, and they have few question marks on their team. The Phillies and Marlins will have woeful seasons.
1. Washington Nationals
2. Atlanta Braves
3. New York Mets
4. Miami Marlins
5. Philadelphia Phillies
The NL Central is by far the best division in the National League and competes with the American League East for most dominate in baseball. The Cubbies are going to extend their years without a title again this year. However, they will be much better than last year. The Brewers benefit from getting Ryan Braun back and he will produce right away (maybe he is still juicing who knows). But there are too many questions marks to see a great season coming. If they manage to get within 5 games of .500 consider it a success.
One of the greatest races last season came from the Reds, Pirates and Cardinals. It should be much of the same this season. The Reds will have a bit of a talent drop off offensively but could have a strong year from their pitching staff. The Pirates are a dream team, its fun to watch them play and after decades of losing last year they became a team everyone rooted for. Gerrit Cole is the guy to watch out for, and Clutch (Andrew McCutchen) will have another MVP caliber season. The Cardinals always seem to put a solid team on the field every year; this season should be no different. They are deep and have no big question marks, but shouldn’t have many big surprises either.
Prediction: Gerrit Cole contends for the Cy Young and the Pirates produce. The season will come down to the end to see who wins. As a whole this division should improve, which is insane to think about considering how well they did last season.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates
2. Saint Louis Cardinals (Wildcard)
3. Cincinnati Reds (Wildcard)
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Chicago Cubs
The NL West is fairly deep; the Dodgers are clear favorites, but all of the teams have potential. The Dodgers spend the most money in baseball and it shows, they are talented and deep. The issues wont be talent, but staying healthy and not having clubhouse issues (looking at you Yasiel Puig). They have all the pressure on them to produce and the second it goes bad watch out.
The Giants and Diamondbacks should have solid seasons, but baring a Dodger meltdown they will only hover around .500 and not much better. The Padres are in the same boat; they have potential but not enough to make a run. They have the talent to hover within reach of .500 but will probably fall short. The Rockies are the team to watch out for, they are finally healthy and have a lot of talent that can produce. If they stay healthy and get production from a few key plays they could make a run.
Prediction: they Dodgers have a meltdown that rivals some of the best in baseball, Puig is a character and has to develop a mindset better that an 8 year old (sorry any 8 year old readers). Their collapse will leave a void. If the Rockies have a good first few months they have the talent to make a trade of bring up talent. They first few months will be key to this division.
1. Colorado Rockies (just like the AL West, bold pick)
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. San Diego Padres
Now the fun stuff… Playoffs and Awards:
AL MVP: Mike Trout, with Pedroia, Cano, and WIl Myers competing for it.
NL MVP: Bryce Harper, with Clutch, Troy Tulowitzki, and Carlos Gonzalez competing
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, with David Price and King Felix Hernandez competing
NL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole, with Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw competing
AL Champion: Kansas City Royals over Tampa Bay Rays
NL Champion: Washington Nationals over Pittsburg Pirates
World Series: Washington Nationals over Kansas City Royals
(Disclaimer: I made some bold predictions, some of which require a lot of things to go right. To see experts picks please check out ESPN, but come season end we will see who the experts are!)