Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MLB Preview (Part 2): NL East

Having covered the NL Central yesterday, we now present our predictions for the NL East. I forgot to include in yesterday's post, but all over/under numbers are from Sportsbook.com

Without further ado:

Atlanta Braves  87 (89 wins)
Sean: Over. Way over. This team won 89 games last year with tons of injuries and players performing way below their career norms. Another year of development for Brandon Beachy and Tommy Hanson will help as will getting rid of Derek Lowe. The Marlins and Nats may be better than last year but the hype they are getting is mostly to fill space in a slow off-season. They don’t have the overall depth and pitching that the Braves do which is why I expect them to win the wild-card. Also, Chippers not fat, the picture is misleading and I’m forever boycotting Deadspin... until tomorrow.

Steve: Over. This is a legitimate team. Chipper Jones did get fat though.

Jon: Over. God they have a lot of young pitching. Maybe they can sell high on Jurrjens, too. And Heyward should turn it around.

Philadelphia Phillies  93.5 (102 wins)
Steve: Over. This is still the best team in the NL. If a team wins 100 games this year, it will be the Phillies.

Sean: Over. This is surprisingly low. Their pitching proved that they can win 95+ wins without a great offense. A full year of Pence will help and Ryan Howard is super overrated.

Jon: Over, but barely. I don’t think this team steamrolls quite how they did last year, but I think they’ll get to right about 95 wins. Halladay, Lee, and Hamels (my pick for Cy Young) is nasty, even if their best hitter is Shane Victorino.

Miami Marlins  84.5 (72 wins)
Steve: Over. I think I’ve predicted that the Marlins will be the sleeper in the NL since like 2007. And I’m doing it again.

Sean: Under. No way their stars are going to stay healthy for a whole season.

Jon: Under. I don’t think Josh Johnson or Mark Buerhle give them what they need, and Jose Reyes is going to regress, get hurt, or both. Hanley should be better, but I don’t think he’s 2008 Hanley either.

Washington Nationals  84.5 (80 wins)
Steve: Under. Bryce Harper is 11 days shy of being 4 full years younger than me. Fuck him.

Sean: Under. Don’t believe the hype. They got some good parts but Mike Morse isn’t going to be good again, Bryce Harper is too young, and Strasburg needs to dominant for a whole season before I believe in his ability or his health.

Jon: Under. This is the MLB version of the 49ers of 2007-2011. Lots of pieces, but I’ll believe it when I see it. I did used to cheer for Ryan Zimmerman when I thought he was Jewish, but no more.

New York Mets  70.5 (77 wins)
Steve: Under. But Johan Santana is coming back! Shut the fuck up Mets fans. Ike Davis is your only good player. And if one person says the name Lucas Duda in response to that I’m gonna fuckin’ flip out. David Wright can suck a lemon.

Sean: Over. Don’t get me wrong, the Mets are going to be hilariously bad but they will still get 73 or so wins. Mets fans in New York, I’ve never seen you, climb out of the hole with your Piazza blow up dolls so I can chant Larry in your last place finishing, Long Island living, stupid faces.

Jon: Under. They won 77 last year, but they have almost no hitting. Last year, they at least had Beltran and Reyes most of the season. They also have no pitching. Johan Santana was very valuable in 2006, but there’s question of if he’ll even pitch this year. I believe Mike Pelfrey is their number 2 starter. His ERA was 4.74 last year. Ugh.


Division Prediction:
Steve: The Phillies are still the best team in this division as of today. Their lineup is surprisingly weak, but it’s probably no worse than the Braves’ lineup (this division’s second best team), and the Phillies’ pitching is still better. My pick for this division is the Phillies, although if the Braves get great production out of Freeman and Heyward, as well as a non-worst thing ever first half from Dan Uggla, the Braves could very well take it. The Marlins and Nats aren’t there, but they’re working on it. If there ends up being a surprise team from this division, it will be the Marlins. Not the Mets. Never the Mets.

Jon: From 2002 on, only 10 times have 2 teams in the same division won 95 or more games (with the AL East accounting for 7 of those instances). That’s exactly what I think will happen in the NL East this year. There’s a clear-cut worst team in the Mets and two promising teams in the Nats and Marlins, but neither seems to be serious contenders to me. This year’s Phillies won’t steamroll like last year, but they still have 3 pitchers who could win the Cy Young. I think the corresponding lack of offense, with aging Victorino and Rollins and hurt Utley and Howard, bites them in the ass as the Braves’ embarrassment of riches in starting pitching talent and young, talented hitters take a step forward. It’ll be close and I expect both teams to be right around 95 wins, but I think the Phillies’ hitting is just poor enough to cost them the division (they’ll still be the first wild card, though).

Sean: Every bone in my body wants to pick the Braves but there are too many question marks. Chipper Jones is already hurt, Aroldys Viczanio got Tommy John surgery, Tim Hudson is out for April, and Jair Jurrjens still looks like his knee is bothering him. The Phillies have their own question marks, namely an aging core and no middle of the lineup but they are falling back on three of the top twelve pitchers in baseball. Simply put, you don’t need a great offense when you only give up two runs. The Braves are still going to make the wild card game with 92 or 93 wins but fall stay four or five games behind the Phillies. The Marlins and Nationals are getting more hype than they deserve but both will be slightly above .500 but plagued by the lack of organizational depth of the Braves and superstars of the Phillies. This is by far the best division in the National League and even the Mets are going to be feistier than people think.

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