Yesterday I posted my 2011 American League Preview. In case you missed it: http://ntcf.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/2011-american-league-regular-season-preview/
Today I bring to you my National League Preview. I fully admit I am more of an American League fan despite my hatred of the DH. I attribute that to the Red Sox being in the AL and I primarily watch them. But as a baseball fan, I enjoy the National League brand of baseball so much more. Doubles, triples, sacrifice bunts, hit and runs, and double switches are more interesting to me than 3 run home runs. I digress.
After that mini diatribe here is my predictions for the National League this season. Just like yesterday the parenthesis show where I rate them overall. During the season I will ditch the divisional format and do my rankings of all 30 MLB teams.
Philadelphia Phillies (1)
Atlanta Braves (5)
Florida Marlins (8)
New York Mets (11)
Washington Nationals (14)
It is easier to tell the difference between Jose Canseco and Ozzie Canseco than it is to pick against the Phillies this season. They have 4 aces in Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Hamels. Halladay and Lee are arguably the two best pitchers in all of baseball. Pitching alone will get the Phillies to the World Series. The Braves bolstered their lineup with the acquisition of Dan Uggla in the off-season and have a nice 2 headed closer in Craig Kimbrell and Jonny Venters. The Marlins have one of the better young teams in baseball led by Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson. Expect Mike Stanton to have a monster year as the Marlins have some pieces in place to make a run at another title in a few years. The Mets have zero pitching and have a patchwork outfield with Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran being as injury prone as they are. Johan Santana ins expected back in July but it will be way too late for him to help the Mets in any way. Stephen Strasburg is out or the season and Bryce Harper will be in the minors all year. All the National fans have to look forward to is how badly management overpaid WWE wrestler Edge, I mean Jayson Werth.
Cincinnati Reds (2)
Milwaukee Brewers (3)
St. Louis Cardinals (9)
Chicago Cubs (10)
Pittsburgh Pirates (13)
Houston Astros (16)
Over the past year I have become somewhat of a closet Reds fan. I love Drew Stubbs (UT grad) and Brandon Phillips (from my days of being a batboy with Pawsox). I love Bronson Arroyo because of his ties to the Sox. And oh by the way, they have the reigning NL MVP in Joey Votto. The Brewers are another young and very talented team. They are an exciting squad because of their home-grown talent with Weeks, Fielder, and Braun. Also Corey Hart and Casey McGehee are very underrated. They also scooped up Shaun Marcum who was making his living facing the Rays, Sox, and Yanks last year and still putting up solid numbers. Take this into consideration: His Blue Jays faced those 3 teams close to 60 times last season. This season he faces a weaker division. He could be a dark horse Cy Young candidate. St. Louis losing Adam Wainwright for the season definitely sets them back a few places in the division and subtracts a sure 20 wins from their season. The Cardinals biggest worry this season won’t be winning games, it will be making sure they re-sign Pujols. The Cubs don’t have much to work with the season. In fact their only bright spots are their closer (Marmol) and the development of their shortstop (Castro). Other than that, they will be keeping a close eye on the Pujols situation and will be ready to pounce once he becomes a free agent. For the Astros, well, at least Hunter Pence is one of the best young players in the game today. They have too much money tied up in a deteriorating Carlos Lee and Brett Myers is their ace. The Pirates are right there with the Indians in the battle for the worst team in baseball. Pirates fans (if there are any) can only hope Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, and Pedro Alvarez develop at a rapid rate.
The Rockies have two of the best young players in baseball in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. Gonzalez has a swing that has to be seen to be believed (think Kid Griffey). They also benefit from having Ubaldo Jimenez who was lights out last season and another young stud in waiting Jhoulys Chacin. The Rockies are always great in late August and September. If they can hold it together in the beginning and middle of the season the NL West is theirs. The Dodgers have all the ingredients to be a playoff team. Kershaw and Billingsley are a great 1-2 punch and Ethier and Kemp will provide pop in the lineup. If they can keep it together there is no reason they can’t make the playoffs this season. Last season the Giants caught lightning in a bottle with Cody Ross. I do not believe that will happen again. While they benefit from having one of the better pitching staffs in baseball (Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Baumgarner) their bats are synonymous with swim noodles. The Diamondbacks will struggle again this year. They do have a stud in waiting on the mound in Daniel Hudson but this team will not put runs up on the board. The Padres will be just as bad if not worse. They lost their only guy that could produce when they traded Adrian Gonzalez. They also start the season with their ace, Mat Latos on the DL. I honestly think the Padres will average less than 4 runs a game and there is no real reason to watch them this season. That being said, Red Sox fans will be interested to see how Casey Kelly, Reymond Fuentes, and Anthony Rizzo turn out.
2011 NL Wild Card- Milwaukee Brewers
Phillies over Brewers in 4
Reds over Rockies in 5
Phillies over Reds in 6
World Series – Red Sox over Phillies in 7
Cy Young- Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
Rookie of the Year- Brandon Belt, (UT Grad) San Francisco Giants
Manager of the Year- Jim Tracy, Colorado Rockies
So there you have it. Love it? Hate it? Be sure to let me know in the comments section below.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN ALREADY!
I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF