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MLB 2012 NATIONAL LEAGUE BREAKDOWN

Here is the National League predictions and quick summaries for this 2012 MLB season.  I am a huge Mets fan, so these predictions are going to be quite painful.  I hope everyone who has an opinion of my summaries and predictions tells me how they feel.

NL EAST

Image 1st – After last year’s dominating regular season performance and then their epic playoff collapse, the Philadelphia Phillies will be looking for that hardware on their finger once again.  Last year, the Phillies sported the best starting rotation in baseball and it looks like they have it again.  With major injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, look for the Phillies offense to struggle a little more than it did last year.  Although they ran away with the division last year, (13 games a head of 2nd place Atlanta), you can expect it to be a little closer this year in the NL East race with Miami and its much improved lineup.  Record Prediction:  97-65

Image 2nd – The newly named Miami Marlins are coming into a season with higher expectations then the organization has had since 2003.  After signing huge free agents in the off-season like Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, the Marlins are making it clear that they plan on taking a stab at their franchises 3rd World Series title.  It will be tough to win the NL East pennant with the staff that the Phillies put out there, but you can expect Miami to give them a run for their money and pick up one of the NL’s wildcard slots.  Record Prediction: 92-70 (Wildcard Winner)

Image 3rd – With one of the greatest Mets killers of all time retiring after the 2012 season, I can’t help but have a little smirk on my face.  Larry “Chipper” Jones is one of the greatest third basemen of all time and without question will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.  When last season started, the Atlanta Braves were not supposed to be anything better than a .500 ball club.  They exceeded those expectations throughout the season and, like the Red Sox, had a terrible final month falling one game short of winning the wildcard.  With Miami being a formidable opponent in the East this year you can look for the Braves record to drop from last year. Record Prediction: 84-78

Image 4th – Opening day starter, Johan Santana, is going to have to stay healthy for the Mets to even think about finishing 4th in the division.  On top of that, David Wright and Ike Davis are going to have to stay healthy to keep the Mets in ball games.  Supposedly there is a lot of upside to being a fan of a team with no expectations, I just can’t see it.  Losing Jose Reyes to division rival Miami was a huge hit to the Mets confidence and to top it all off, the Mets are in more debt than MC Hammer.  I am looking forward to Lucas Duda developing this season, but besides that it should be a dull and dark season.  Record Prediction:  74-88

Image 5th – With the incredible depth of young talent, you can expect to see the Washington Nationals fighting for the top position in this division for years to come…just not this year.  With arguably the best bullpen in all of baseball with the likes of Tyler Clippard and Brad Lidge with the breakout young closer Drew Storen, the Nats should be able to hold onto leads.  The only problem with that is that they need the lead first.  They had one of the worst batting lineups of the year last year and they made no significant changes to it, so unless Ace Stephen Strasburg has some pop to his bat, expect a last place finish.  Record Prediction:  72-90

NL CENTRAL

Image 1st – 2011 was an extremely successful regular season for the Milwaukee Brewers.  The only problem was that they didn’t carry that success over into the postseason.  Losing Prince Fielder to the Detroit Tigers was a big loss, but the Brewers made up for some of his lost offense by getting veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez.  With one of the stronger pitching rotations in their division, and being in one of the weaker divisions in baseball, I expect the “Brew Crew” to win the Central once again this season.  Record Prediction:  91-71

Image 2nd – Two years removed from their last NL Central pennant, the Cincinnati Reds look to regain their footing and be a playoff contender once again.  With perennial MVP candidate Joey Votto at the forefront of one of the better batting lineups in baseball, the Reds will be a team to recon with in 2012.  If Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos can be the pitchers we all know they are capable of being then you can expect them to make a push for one of the NL wildcard slots.  Record Prediction:  85-77

Image 3rd – The World Series Champions from 2011 have a lot on their plate this season.  They just lost one of their franchises greatest players of all time in Albert Pujols, and their ace Adam Wainwright is coming off major surgery.  The arrival of Carlos Beltran can help an offense that surpassed everyone’s expectations last season, but with his injury problems who knows how long that could last.  I can not foresee Lance Berkman having the same success as last year because his numbers were far above expectations and now he does not have “the machine” next to him in the lineup.  Record Prediction:  81-81

Image 4th – They lost one of their best hitters from last season in Aramis Ramirez and didn’t replace him with much.  The Chicago Cubs don’t have a lot to look forward to this season with a starting rotation of a bunch of guys who are inconsistent or unproven as starters.  The one bright side of this team will be the emergence of Starlin Castro, who is quickly becoming one of the best SS in baseball.  Castro is coming off a super impressive sophomore season and you can expect him to give the NL Batting Title a good chase. Record Prediction:  76-86

Image 5th – Outside of Andrew McCutchen there is not a lot of positive things to say about the always disappointing Pittsburgh Pirates.  McCutchen is coming off a great year where he had career highs in home runs, 23, and RBI’s, 89.  I see McCutchen’s 4th year in baseball being one where he goes for 30 HRs and 100 RBIs.  The Pirates Ace, Erik Bedard, has the potential to be a very good pitcher, but 7 stints on the DL in the last 5 seasons makes him a huge question mark.  Expect Pittsburgh to be in the same area they are every year…hovering around the bottom of the Central.  Record Prediction: 71-91

Image 6th – The proud owners of 2011’s worst record in baseball, the Houston Astros did absolutely nothing to indicate that those numbers will change in 2012.  Besides the streaky Wandy Rodriguez, there is not one pitcher on the Astros that’s even worth mentioning.  The once proud franchise with names like Biggio and Bagwell now sell jerseys with fairly unrecognizable names like Altuve and Lowrie.  You can expect the Astros to finish at the bottom of the Central once again and it will be interesting to see if they can beat out Baltimore for the worst record in baseball.  Record Prediction:  60-102

NL WEST

Image 1st – After winning the World Series in 2010, the San Fransisco Giants look to recover from a disappointing 2011.  The Giants endured a heart-breaking early season ending injury to their star young catcher Buster Posey.  But, with a healthy Posey and the second best pitching staff in the entire NL, San Fran can expect to be playoff bound once again.  Only in his 6th season in the majors, I expect Tim Lincecum to pick up his 3rd Cy Young award.  Not only will the Giants win their division, but I think they will make some noise throughout the playoffs and give the Phillies a battle for the NL crown.  Record Prediction:  94-68

Image 2nd – The Arizona Diamondbacks had a great season last year with 94 wins and the NL West pennant.  Ian Kennedy had a breakout season in his 5th year in the league with career bests in innings pitched (222), strikeouts (198), ERA (2.88) and WHIP (1.09).  You can expect Kennedy to lead the Diamondbacks to another successful season and one of the two NL Wildcard positions. If Chris Young and Justin Upton play to their fullest potential then there will be a lot of teams that fear playing the Diamondbacks.  Record Prediction:  89-73 (Wildcard Winner)

Image 3rd – Magic Johnson is now one of the proud new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Besides the teams new owners purchase, there really wasn’t much to get excited about this off-season for the Dodgers. In only 4 seasons, Dodgers Ace Clayton Kershaw has quickly become one of the best pitchers in baseball and with Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay he should be in the running for the NL Cy Young this season.  If Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp can stay healthy than this could be the year when the Dodgers become relevant once again.  Record Prediction:  85-77

Image 4th – With the worst overall offense in the 2011 season, the San Diego Padres have only one direction to go…up.  The Padres had a very impressive pitching rotation last year with relatively unknown players like Tim Stauffer and Cory Luebke.  Unfortunately their big problem was at the plate and this problem was not adressed the way it needed to be.  If Chase Headley can stay healthy and Cameron Maybin can be the player we all expected him to be when he came up in Detroit and quickly got traded to the Marlins, then you can expect to see a better offensive performance in 2012. Record Prediction:  77-85

Image 5th – One of the best acquisitions of this past off-season has to go to Colorado with the pickup of long-time Minnesota Twins Veteran Michael Cuddyer.  He should have a great season hitting in the Mile High, but with a pathetically non-existent starting rotation and a combined 300 years of experience (slight exaggeration) at first base between Todd Helton and Jason Giambi, the Rockies can expect to be at the bottom of the West.  I am sure Troy Tulowitzki will be on the list for MVP once again but it will not be enough to salvage this season for Colorado.  Record Prediction: 70-92

These are my thoughts a predictions for the National League in the upcoming 2012 season.  Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree with what I have to say.

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3 responses

  1. sleeds

    I think Miami may squeek past philly this year by a game or two. Hanley is looking for a comeback and ozzie is going to be looking to make a statement with his new team.

    April 2, 2012 at 8:00 PM

  2. I think you are basically correct though I have to agree with EdB about the Mets. Looking like it could be a loooong summer in Queens for the Metropolitans. Even if Johan Santana does well look for the Mets to trade him by the All-Star break. I can’t say I really know enough about the other two division to argue any points with conviction, so I guess I will take your word for it.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:40 PM

  3. Matt:
    In the National League East, I generally agree with your predictions. Unfortunately for your sake, I must flip the Nationals and the Mets. Jason Bay has hit .190 this Spring and not knocked in a run. I am wondering what freak injuries are on the way, because they seem to happen to the Mets. Lucas Duda is going to become a player for them. Will that be enough? In the central, I do not know if Aramis Ramirez will adequately replace Prince Fielder. I am not sure if the Reds have enough and the Cardinals with a new manager are iffy. It is going to be close and maybe the Brewers will hold on. I like the Dodgers in the West. Donnie Baseball has done a good job. The Dodgers played twenty games of five hundred at the end of the season and against good teams. The Dodgers have some nice bats in the lineup, good pitching and some good young arms on the way. EDB

    April 2, 2012 at 4:58 PM

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