2012 Major League Baseball Preview: National League

East Division

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Miami Marlins-*
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. Washington Nationals
  5. New York Mets

Analysis:  This division rivals the AL East for the best division in baseball.  Teams one through four have a chance to make some serious noise this season.  The Phillies still have their Big Three in the pitching rotation in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels.  The Jonathan Papelbon signing was a shrewd one for the Phils, as it addressed there weakness at closer.  As long as Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley stay healthy, the Phils will be the team to beat in the NL.  If only they played that way in the playoffs…

The Marlins have some newness to them: manager, personnel, the name (Miami), unis, phat ballpark, and some swagger.  The Marlins do have the talent to win the NL East, and they have the manager in Ozzie Guillen to help reach that goal.  That buzz alone should help generate some more fan interest.  Hell anything more than 20 fans per game would be an improvement.  Look for twenty more fans to be jazzed over a playoff berth.

Poor Atlanta.  It’s one thing to try and recover from an epic choke job that only the Red Sox could trump.  It’s another to look and find themselves looking up at TWO teams instead of one in the division.  I like the Braves’ talent.  I love their manager.  I think the “Chipper Jones Retirement Tour” would bring good vibes to the team.  I think that this is the wrong division to try and pull it off.  The Braves would be instant faves in the Central and especially the West.  Alas, it was not meant to be…

I really, REALLY love what the Nationals are doing.  They are staying aggressive in free agency and are definitely displaying a commitment to win.  As with the Braves, they are in the wrong division.  They will be a team to watch next season.

As for New York, it is what it always has been.  Mets is an acronym for “My Entire Team Sucks”.

Central Division

  1. Cincinnati Reds
  2. Milwaukee Brewers
  3. St. Louis Cardinals
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates
  5. Chicago Cubs
  6. Houston Astros

Analysis:  This is a division in transition.  All of these teams are undergoing changes in personnel.  The Reds have lost their newly signed closer for the year with an elbow injury.  The Brew Crew lost Prince Fielder to the Detroit Tigers.  The Cards lost Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim above San Diego and former manager Tony LaRussa to retirement.  The Pirates acquired AJ Burnett.  The Cubs cleaned house and hired a new manager and front office led by Theo Esptein, formerly of the Boston Red Sox.  And the Astros …well they are still the Astros.

I think the Reds are the best of this flawed bunch because they still have their hitting led by young stud Joey Votto.  Their starting pitching is still underrated.  In short, they had the least amount of turnover from last season, and should win the division because of that.

The Brew Crew’s offense got a lot weaker this past offseason when they lost Fielder.  It also doesn’t help to have that steroid – errrr, I mean “performance enhancing drug” – cloud hovering over reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun’s head in spring training (don’t think for a minute it will get better during the regular season).  All that will be too much to overcome.

West Division

  1. San Francisco Giants
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks-*
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Colorado Rockies
  5. San Diego Padres

Analysis:  I think the Giants are on a mission to avenge last year’s injury-riddled season.  Let’s face it, if they suffered injuries to only HALF their stars, they would have won the NL West.  It’s hard to overcome injuries to your star closer (Brian Wilson) and star catcher (Buster Posey).  Last I checked, the Giants still have their one-two pitching punch in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.  They will win the division in what will be a hotly contested battle with Arizona.

Speaking of which, the Diamondbacks over-achieved big time under manager Kirk Gibson.  The good news is they still have pitching studs Ian Kennedy and Joe Saunders.  The bad news is they will not sneak up on any teams this season.  Before I leave D-Back fans all sad and (spit), I think Arizona will still make the playoffs.  That pitching will make them VERY dangerous in a one-game playoff scenario.

The Dodgers will receive good vibes thanks to finally being rid of Frank McCourt’s bumbling ass.  Magic Johnson owning the team is the best thing to happen to Major League Baseball in a long time.  I think that alone will help the Dodgers improve dramatically in the standings this season.

To Rockies and Padres fans, better luck next year – and perhaps the year after that if you are a Padres fan!

-*: denotes wildcard team

National League Champion: Philadelphia Phillies

World Series Champion: Philadelphia Phillies

Categories: baseball, MLB, sports story

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2 replies

  1. Ha ha! “Pitching studs of Ian Kennedy and Joe Saunders”

    I never thought I would hear the words “pitching stud” and “Joe Saunders” in the same sentence. Especially when we have Daniel Hudson and Trevor Cahill ahead of him in the rotation.

    I don’t agree that we overachieved under Gibby, but I can see how outsiders get that view. We have just been without a real manager for a few years before him so our team has been underachieving.

    Overall I think the D’Backs match the Giants pitching for the most part and have a much better lineup, which gives them the edge in the division. (Obviously my judgements are influenced by my fan allegiance though!)

    Nice article. I am excited for the season.

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