MLB 2012: National League Predictions

Topic: Projecting how the National League will shape up including division winners and wild cards.

Panel: Doug Nilsen, Matt Riggleman, and Matt Horn

Division winners in red, wild cards in orange.

NL East The Doug MR M. Horn
1 Atlanta Braves Philadelphia Phillies Philadelphia Phillies
2 Miami Marlins Atlanta Braves Miami Marlins
3 Washington Nationals Washington Nationals Washington Nationals
4 New York Mets Miami Marlins Atlanta Braves
5 Philadelphia Phillies New York Mets New York Mets
NL Central
1 Cincinnati Reds Cincinnati Reds St. Louis Cardinals
2 St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals Cincinnati Reds
3 Milwaukee Brewers Milwaukee Brewers Milwaukee Brewers
4 Pittsburgh Pirates Pittsburgh Pirates Pittsburgh Pirates
5 Chicago Cubs Chicago Cubs Chicago Cubs
6 Houston Astros Houston Astros Houston Astros
NL West
1 Los Angeles Dodgers San Francisco Giants San Francisco Giants
2 Colorado Rockies Arizona Diamondbacks Arizona Diamondbacks
3 Arizona Diamondbacks Colorado Rockies Los Angeles Dodgers
4 San Francisco Giants Los Angeles Dodgers Colorado Rockies
5 San Diego Padres San Diego Padres San Diego Padres

The Doug: This is the way the world ends for the Phillies.  Not with a bang, but with a large quantity of 2-1 losses. I don’t see how they’ll score runs.  Old and slow doesn’t score: as an Orioles fan I know these things. The Braves are going to be really solid all-around and I see them staying ahead of a less solid Marlins squad as well as a Nats team that definitely has a good plan going, but will die defensively. Mets will be a sneaky .500 team and overachieve for once.

I really like the Reds. They will score some runs, they will strike out a lot of guys, they will take the division. The Cardinals were the toughest team to me…how much of their success was Pujols and LaRussa? The last Cards team without LaRussa coaching them got Joe Torre fired. I could see them winning the division on the momentum from last year, I could see them going 75-87 and finishing 5th. I hedged and put them in the wildcard due to lots of games vs. HOU, CHI, and PIT.

The west is wide open. Arizona has young talent with no depth. Colorado has an interesting mix, San Fran has pitching but no more hitting than previously, San Diego could even be pesky with their young pitchers in their pitchers’ haven of a park. But LA has the best pitcher, the best hitter, and more surrounding them than last year when they weren’t that far away from competing. If their bullpen throws well, they’re going to surprise some folks and take the mediocre division.

MR: NL East – First of all, let me start off by saying, I think the Phillies are going to underachieve bigtime this year. I just don’t think anyone else in the division is good enough to stop their pitching. I put the Braves second because I think they have the most well-rounded team on this list..they just haven’t figured out how to work yet. The Nats are the Rays of 3 years ago for me – oozing with more homegrown tastiness than a farmer’s market…and I seriously think they’re the biggest wildcard on this list. The Marlins are overrated – plain and simple – because their pitching is more injury prone and unpredictable than a room full of geriatrics.  And, frankly, the Mets are a non-factor. Nuff’ Said.

NL Central – The Reds are a weird team. With the exception of Joey Votto, they’re loaded with homegrown talent with gapping holes…big homerun power, but k’s a lot…runs, but can’t hit..throws 104 without control…great with the glove, can’t hit a lick. It’s kind of like they’re changing hitting and pitching instructors every couple months. But I feel like, even if a handful of these 3 star players become 4 star players…they win..because there’s a buttload of talent there. The Cardinals have always revolved around chemistry – and although I believe they’re still talented enough to win this thing – the X-Factor of losing their Hall of Fame Manager and a guy named Pujols – is too much for me to go all in. The Brew Crew is a definite contender, but they’re here simply because, even with Fielder, they couldn’t get it done..and they’re definitely not as good without Fielder.  The other 3 teams are simply not relevant enough to matter..with Houston being irrelevant to the world in general. I don’t even think it’s safe to say Houston’s in rebuilding mode.

NL West – I feel like the Giants got unlucky last year – Posey injury, Huff remembered he sucks, Belt never stuck, B Wilson was overrated..- but make no mistake, with the addition of Cabrera (who I actually believe in), and the emergence of yet another young, staff ace in Bumgarner, they’re going the distance like Cake. The D-Backs are loaded. They have the ingredient every smaller market team wants – buttloads of solid,
high-upside, controllable pitching. They also have a core of young-ish guys ready to show the world they’re for real. Colorado is 3rd for me only because I think, collectively, they’re better balanced than the Dodgers at this point. Their pitching is a question, but there are a pile of younger arms there that could surprise. Their offense is decent and aided by Coors. The Dodgers have 2 of the best players in baseball with Kershaw and Kemp, but they literally are surrounded by NOTHING. And they’re going to be surrounded by NOTHING..all year…I don’t believe in Dee Gordon, Ethier, Loney, Jansen, Billingsly or (Insert aging star here). The Pads are, by their own admission in rebuilding mode, so they’re on the bottom for a reason…though their system is ranked #1 in depth.

Horn: Even with the Phillies marquee hitters on the brink of being mummified, this team is good enough to win the division again. Halladay, Lee, and Hamels have shown they can carry a team that isn’t scoring. The Nats are starting to peak interest, but winning the division is at least a year away.

In the central I think it’s a two team race. Players love playing is St. Louis. We saw the real Lance Berkman once again last year, and I believe we’ll see something similar this season with Carlos Beltran. Carpenter is battling injuries in the early going so far, but the addition of Wainwright will be huge for the reigning champs. Reds will push the Cards for the division which won’t be decided until the last week of the season.

I see a rejuvenated Giants team that includes a staff as good as Philly’s, just younger. They did it without hitting before and they can do it again if the new acquired Melk-man doesn’t deliver. I like the projected line-up with Brandon Belt up and Buster Posey back. Other than Arizona, I think the rest of the division finishes .500 and under.

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