Sunday, April 04, 2010

Trend's Baseball Predictions - The National League

With AL predictions out of the way, it's time to move on to the NL. I think there will be a much greater division between the good and the bad here (no completely-mediocre division like the AL Central). Here are my predictions.

NL East
1. Philadelphia (95-67)
2. Atlanta* (89-73)
3. NY Mets (87-75)
4. Florida (77-85)
5. Washington (68-92)

Few changes to last year's NL Champions, except they now have the (healthy) Roy Halladay rather than the (hurt) Cliff Lee, and they have him for the whole season; this should be a wash (though they play the games for a reason). I think Atlanta's going to be an absolute blast, this year; they have again returned to an extremely solid lineup of young (and good) pitching, and Jason Heyward looks so exciting. And I'm not usually an "intangibles" guy, and certainly Bobby Cox is downplaying this being his last year of coaching, but he is a coaching genius, and I think the players, inadvertently or not, may end up going above and beyond the call of duty for Cox's last year, giving the team just enough to make the playoffs. I could be wrong, and perhaps it's almost too perfect, but this just seems right for this year; I think the planets (and the young talent) will line up perfectly for Atlanta. The Mets are....the Mets. I think they'll be healthier this year, but I don't think that will be enough, and given that they've seem to taken on the "Indians-lite" identity in terms of heartbreak, and I expect their fans' hearts will be broken late once again. I know Florida finished last year 87-75; I admit to knowing little about them, but even on paper, they look better than 77-85. I'm just going with my gut (as well as the suspicion that an injury here or there will hurt them much more than other teams), and putting them lower this year. And Washington...well, at least they are back on a path of rebuilding with direction, having cleaned out the front office and putting the Bowden/Dominican player-ripoff issues behind them. And they can look forward to Stephen Strasburg playing in the not-too-distant future, too.

NL Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals (91-71)
2. Cincinnati Reds (84-78)
3. Chicago Cubs (80-82)
4. Milwaukee (78-84)
5. Pittsburgh (72-90)

6. Houston (71-91)

I don't know why, but I continuously find this the least captivating division in baseball. The Cubs saga is beyond tired (and predictable); the Cardinals are almost boringly-good, and between their pitching, LaRussa's skill, and Pujols and Holliday in the middle of the lineup, I expect them to take it yet again (and I don't think McGwire will be a distraction - indeed, I suspect the offense may be better under him). Cincinnati could very well be in the push for the Wild Card towards the end, but I don't think they have quite enough. Milwaukee could be a dark horse, though I don't think they have quite enough pieces for a late-season push. Pittsburgh will once again finish below .500, but I think the fact that they finally seem to have some direction and vision in how they're putting that team together should bring hope to fans (and I say this as somebody who's tried to find hope since he was aware sports existed). And I admit to knowing little about Houston's farm system, but they didn't have any pieces last year, they didn't make any big moves this offseason, and I haven't really heard of any young studs coming up from their farm system. I could be surprised, but right now, at least, I expect them to be pretty bad yet again.

NL West

1. Los Angeles (90-72)
2. Colorado (87-75)

3. San Francisco (87-75)
4. Arizona (76-86)
5. San Diego (75-87)

This should be baseball's most competitive (good) division. The Giants showed a lot of surprise for people last year, and will make a push for the Wild Card and Division. The Dodgers are another year older, and there are some important question marks in their lineup and pitching staff, but this should be pretty easy compared to the crap Torre had to put up with in NY. If Troy Tulowitzki stays healthy and that young pitching staff can stay as good as they were last year, they'll be in the thick of things. I think Arizona and San Diego are still too far off, but both will make things complicated for the other three as their young stars start to bloom. I think Colorado/San Francisco are left out of the Wild Card because the West is tough, while Atlanta should be able to beat up on Washington and Florida with relative ease. This will be a really fun division to watch through the year, though.

Tomorrow, playoff predictions.