Over the next month I will be writing previews for every team and division in Major League Baseball. I will break down each team and predict the winner of each division. Today I will start with the National League East. Here is a look at how each team finished last season:
2012 National League East Final Standings:
Washington Nationals: 98-64
Atlanta Braves: 94-68
Philadelphia Philles: 81-81
New York Mets: 74-88
Miami Marlins: 69-93
The Miami Marlins had very high expectations last season. Everyone crowned them NL East Champions before the season even started. However, the Marlins greatly underacheived. They took their projected record and flipped it upside down. So what did the Marlins owner do? Exactly what we all would have done (haha). Can anyone say FIRE SALE?!?! Everyone is criticising the Marlins owner for dumping his entire roster just one year after building a brand new stadium in Miami. I say to those people, wake up and smell the coffee!! This is the third time in Marlins franchise history that they’ve done this. I don’t know why anyone is surprised. Anyway, outside of Giancarlo Stanton this team is pretty much awful. I do like Justin Ruggiano’s potential, but he needs to get out of town before it is too late. I see the Marlins having a long frustrating season, finishing with a putrid record of 65-97. Sorry Miami. Hang tough though, in 5 years you’ll probably win another World Series.
What can I say about the New York Mets that hasn’t been said already? I love New York, and I try to root for every New York team even if they’re not my favorite team. But it is hard to root for the Mets. How long can they be downright awful for? It’s almost like being a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, you just know they are going to be bad every year. I hope they turn it around in the near future, but the near future is not going to be 2013. The Mets, like the Marlins, have a couple of nice players and the rest are essentially Triple-A ballplayers. I like David Wright and uh yeah only David Wright. Anyone else on the roster with potential to be great is injury prone. It would be a miracle if Shawn Marcum, Daniel Murphy, and Johan Santana last the entire season. I do actually like Jonathon Niese to be their best pitcher this season, but unfortunately they don’t have enough to compete in this division. The Mets will be slightly worse than last season, finishing with a record of 71-91.
The Philadelphia Phillies are no longer a great team. They proved that by finishing a pedestrian 81-81 last season. The majority of the problems are a result of injuries and aging players. Roy Halladay should bounce back from last season’s poor performance, but at 35 years old he doesn’t have any CY Young Awards coming his way. The additions of Michael Young, Delmon Young, and Ben Revere are all solid moves, but I don’t think it’s going to land them in the playoffs this season. They still have a very good pitching staff in Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Doc Halladay, but they like the Mets are also injury prone. I see a slight improvement from last season to the tune of an 87-75 record. This will leave them just outside the playoffs.
The Atlanta Braves were the first wild card in the National League last season. In the new playoff format that was put in place in 2012, they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in a one game playoff. With the addition of the Upton brothers, the Braves have certainly improved their outfield and added some power to their lineup. The upton’s can both run also, so while Michael Bourn will be missed, they might actually steal more bases than they did in 2012. Without question the Braves have the best closer in baseball; Craig Kimbrel. As long as their starters can carry a lead through the 8th inning, the Braves will win A LOT of games. The Atlanta Braves have a decent pitching rotation that is headed up by old-timer Tim Hudson. Tim has remained very good even as he enters his late 30’s, and he will need to continue to pitch like a #1 starter if the Braves are going to make the playoffs this season. The rest of their pitching rotation is filled with younger guys with plenty of potential. These young guys bring about plenty of questions. Is Kris Medlen as good as the pitcher we saw last season, or will he regress? Is Paul Maholm the pitcher we’ve watched struggle for years in Pittsburgh, or is he the consistent pitcher we saw last year? What can we expect to see from Mike Minor and Julio Teheran? These questions make the Braves rotation a wildcard. Their success will be predicated on the rotation and will be the reason the Braves either return to the playoffs or falter and miss out on the party in October. I believe they will regress slightly from last year and finish with a record of 86-76.
Last season the Washington Nationals finished with the best record in the National League. They had a very successful season which was highlighted by their phenomenal pitching staff. Unfortunately, the Nationals weren’t able to win a playoff series and lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in 5 games in the Divison Series. This season the Nationals are primed and ready to make a deeper run into the playoffs. The silly innings limit has been officially lifted from Stephen Strasburg, and I believe he will be the best pitcher in baseball this season. The advantage gained by being able to pitch Gio Gonzalez against #2 starters from other teams can’t be overstated. Jordan Zimmerman is also looking to build on a solid 2012 season. The addition of Dan Haren to the rotation should help bolster the back end of their rotation. It should also be a nice change of scenery for Haren, as he looks to get back to winning ways after a poor 2012 season. You’d be hard pressed to find a better pitching rotation in all of baseball than the Washington Nationals. They also added Rafael Soriano to an already impressive bullpen. Handing the ball to Soriano, Tyler Clippard, or Drew Storen (if he can stay healthy) is a nice luxury to have and should help shorten games. They also brought in Denard Span who is a nice baserunner and fielder when healthy. Oh yeah, they also have this rising star you may have heard of named Bryce Harper. He is the youngest player in the Major Leagues and is only going to improve. The Nationals are a very good team who from top to bottom have the potential to be the best team in all of baseball. I see them finishing with a very similar record as last year, only this season they will get over the hump and win at least one playoff series. The Washington Nationals 2013 Regular Season Record will be 99-63 and they will win the National League East.
2013 National League East Projected Final Standings:
Washington Nationals: 99-63
Philadelphia Phillies: 87-75
Atlanta Braves: 86-76
New York Mets: 71-91
Miami Marlins: 65-97
2013 National League East Projected Winner: Washington Nationals
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