I covered the AL here.
Welcome the the NL portion of 2 Out Hits' Preview and Predictions.
NL East (proj W-L)
1. Washington Nationals (98-64)
The Nationals look to be the favorite in the entire National League. They have a great lineup top to bottom, the starting pitching is great, and the bullpen is lock down. There is no one glaring weakness to this team. Do I think they will run away with it all? No. There are still lots of talented teams with great pitching. Davey Johnson has been here before, can he do it again almost 30 years later?
2. Atlanta Braves (92-70) WC#1
This team was busy in the off season yet kept its core group of players. The addition of the Upton brothers in the outfield to compliment Heyward should work well. They have a good lineup that will score runs. Will Kris Medlen be magical again? Will they miss Chipper in the clubhouse? The Braves will continue their tradition of being there in the end by getting one of the Wild Card spots again.
3. Philadelphia Phillies (84-78)
This is not a bad baseball team. They just happen to be getting old. There is a mix of past glory and new young talent. If Howard, Utley, and Rollins can put it together for one last run they may push the Braves. Halladay looked horrible in the Spring. He may have lost it. Cole Hamels will be solid and the bullpen is pretty deep. The biggest flaw is the lack of depth on the bench.
4. New York Mets (65-97)
This franchise is a disaster. It's a rudderless ship drifting in the night. The fans in New York are in for a long year. The bench is made up of unknowns, the bullpen is full of rejects, and the lineup is suspect. There is no way a team that plays in that market should suck this bad. They should thank Miami.
5. Miami Marlins (59-103)
I think I am being generous with 59 wins. Here's the only reason to see the Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton.
1. St. Louis Cardinals (89-73)
This is a bit of a surprise here. It's not the most talented team. This organization just knows how to win. The club is made up of players that know their role and are willing to do what it takes. Matheny proved to be more than capable as a manager, and the Cards have a lot of ways to beat you. The rotation is solid, the bullpen is great. Get ahead early on St. Louis or don't get ahead at all. They will barely edge the Reds for the Central.
2. Cincinnati Reds (88-74)
The Reds will have a solid September to climb back in it, but fall short in the end. Dusty Baker will have put them in a hole they can't climb out. The Reds have a ton of Offense, but no bench. They will score a whole lot of runs. The rotation is shaky and that's where I think they lose it. They are never out of a game, but play much better from ahead. This may be Dusty's last run.
3. Milwaukee Brewers (78-84)
This is another team that can hit but can't pitch. Gallardo isn't enough to keep them afloat in the race. With Weeks, Braun, and Ramirez the Brew Crew has a solid middle of the order, but nothing around it. The division will help keep them interested until the end. If anyone on this team gets hurt, they are totally screwed.
4. Chicago Cubs (76-86)
The Cubs are going to be better this year. It's been a while on the North Side. They have good starting pitching this time around. I don't know about Sveum as a manager, but the players talent will come through. Starlin Castro is getting better every year. Carlos Marmol needs to find a job elsewhere. He has lost it. I could see a mid season deal getting rid of Soriano.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates (70-92)
Welcome back to the cellar Pittsburgh! Yup, that's how far they fall. The lineup looks good on paper. I keep waiting for Pedro Alvarez to have a break out year. Andrew McCutchen is good, but can't do it all by himself. There is no pitching to speak of on this club. Must be something in the rivers.
1. San Francisco Giants (95-67)
Yes, they are defending champs. Yes, I am a Giants fan. I will totally admit to being biased. But this team isn't just pretend good, they are for real great. The MVP in Buster Posey. The pitching is amazing. Cain and Vogey are solid, Bumgarner is going to contend for the Cy Young this year. Timmy is still a question. The lineup is seemingly made up of guys meant to hit in their spots. Bochy handles it well, and they do it right. This franchise is not going away.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (89-73) WC#2
The Dodgers spent the money. This is not a homegrown team at all. Suddenly the Yankees moved West. Will it matter? Nah. The manager stinks. Don Mattingly is going to be the reason the Dodgers do not succeed. They have a great starting lineup, there is no denying it. Kershaw at the top anchors an ok rotation, but the bullpen is a little iffy. The Dodgers are good, but nowhere near great.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks (86-76)
The DBacks help make this the best division in the National League. I just don't know if they can get enough run production. The rotation looks like it could be great, or they could all have an off year. I would love to see Brandon McCarthy come back and have a good year. Kevin Towers seems to be trying to build the formula that worked in San Diego, I guess he forgot about all those lost years as well.
4. Colorado Rockies (74-88)
You get a run! And you get a run! Everybody let's score runs! This organization is lost. They have no idea what to do with pitchers. There will be a whole lot of 10-9 ballgames at Coors this season. For fantasy purposes this offense is great, otherwise see ya in a few years Rockies.
5. San Diego Padres (72-90)
This is not the year for a sneak attack by the Padres. The West is too good for them to squeeze to the top. Chase Headley is a great young talent and the only reason to watch the Padres. They have no pitching, hitting, or fans. Maybe Bud Black needs to go.
WC: Braves over Dodgers
NLDS: Giants over Cardinals, Nationals over Braves
NLCS: Giants over Nationals
WS: Giants over Rangers
Yes I know I went there. But they have won it 2 out of 3 years and until someone proves they can beat them in a playoff series, I'm picking the Giants. I would pick a game amount but we don't know who will have home field advantage. Thanks Bud, but that's for another day.
For now, enjoy 2013 everyone! Baseball is back!