Monday, April 1, 2013
Write it down: NL final standings
By David Schoenfield
OK, here are my final AL standings. Here are the NL standings. Yes, we can all laugh at this at the end of the season. FYI: All runs scored and allowed totals add up, as do wins and losses. For wins and losses, I merely took each team's projected runs totals and ran them through the Pythagorean method of determining wins and losses. Of course, teams rarely match that total exactly, but usually do come within a few wins (last year's Orioles by a big exception).
Like most, I'm picking the Nationals to have a huge season and wouldn't be surprised if they crush the National League this year, especially if the Phillies and Mets aren't that good. But don't discount the Braves' ability to turn this into a two-team race.
Washington Nationals: 100-62 (761 runs scored, 584 runs allowed)
On paper, no weaknesses. Of course, injuries could set in, but the lineup depth, rotation depth and bullpen depth are all championship-quality. I'm going with 100 wins and wouldn't be surprised if they win 105.
Atlanta Braves: 93-69 (736 RS, 625 RA)
The best-case scenario here is very high: Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman go from good to scary good (Heyward is a sleeper MVP candidate), Justin Upton has an MVP-caliber season like he did with Arizona in 2011, B.J. Upton loves hitting away from Tampa and Andrelton Simmons is Ozzie Smith-like at shortstop for 150 games. The rotation is good enough, especially if Kris Medlen comes anywhere close to his dominance after moving into the rotation last year (0.97 ERA in 12 starts) and Brandon Beachy returns in midseason. And they have the best reliever in the game in Craig Kimbrel.
New York Mets: 77-85 (650 RS, 682 RA)
I'm a little higher on the Mets than most, as I like Ike Davis to have a big season, David Wright to be David Wright and Matt Harvey to show his ace potential. Look for Zack Wheeler to be up soon, giving them a nice 1-2-3 rotation of Jonathon Niese, Harvey and Wheeler.
Philadelphia Phillies: 76-86 (671 RS, 716 RA)
Obviously, the Phillies need Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to be healthy and productive, but Roy Halladay's poor spring and injury issues from 2012 are cause for alarm and bringing in guys like Michael Young and Delmon Young, on the backside of their careers, were desperation moves. It could work out with Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and a good Halladay, but the Phillies look ripe for bust potential.
Miami Marlins: 59-103 (562 RS, 758 RA)
Placido Polanco hit cleanup on Opening Day.
Everybody likes the Reds and Cardinals with good reason, but I'm stubborn and will say that we shouldn't count out the Brewers. And as much as I'd like the Pirates to finally play .500 ball -- and make the playoffs -- I just don't see it.
Cincinnati Reds: 92-70 (725 RS, 627 RA)
The Reds have a well-balanced team, with a deep rotation that didn't get the publicity of Washington's a year ago but was just as effective, a terrific bullpen with Aroldis Chapman back at closer and a superstar hitter in Joey Votto to anchor the lineup. Defense in center field is an issue and the Reds are counting on Ryan Ludwick to hit again and Todd Frazier to avoid a sophomore slump, but the pitching staff should carry the Reds to the postseason again.
Milwaukee Brewers: 87-75 (770 RS, 714 RA)
The Brewers led the NL in runs scored a year ago and should be up there again, even if Aramis Ramirez drops off a bit. The Kyle Lohse signing helps the rotation, but the key here will be the bullpen that blew an MLB-leading 11 leads in the ninth inning (the MLB average was less than four). If John Axford returns to 2011 form, the Brewers could be back in the playoffs.
St. Louis Cardinals: 86-76 (728 RS, 676 RA)
As much as everyone loves the Cards, this was an 88-win team that lost its best pitcher from last year in Lohse. Shortstop looks like an issue and I worry about injuries to David Freese and Carlos Beltran, plus possible declines from Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina. Yes, the Cards have youth in the likes of Shelby Miller and Oscar Taveras, but those guys may not be stars right away.
Pittsburgh Pirates: 73-89 (642 RS, 712 RA)
Umm ... Jonathan Sanchez and Jeff Locke are in the rotation. How soon until top prospect Gerrit Cole gets called up?
Chicago Cubs: 70-92 (635 RS, 736 RA)
Cubs should be more competitive than last year, and fun to watch with the likes of Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Jeff Samardzija, but they're still going to struggle to score runs and some of the veteran starters (Scott Feldman, Matt Garza, Scott Baker) may end up as trade bait if they actually pitch effectively.
It should be a great three-way race in the West ... but I'm going with a bit of an upset here.
Arizona Diamondbacks: 89-73 (750 RS, 676 RA)
The team with the strangest offseason (trading Justin Upton, Chris Young and Trevor Bauer) has added depth throughout the roster, and I like their chances to return to the top of the NL West. Talent-wise, the D-backs weren't actually that far behind the Giants last year; they won 13 fewer games, but had a run differential just 23 runs worse. The rotation is five deep and they still have top prospect Tyler Skaggs in Triple-A and I like Paul Goldschmidt to have a huge year in the middle of the lineup.
San Francisco Giants: 85-77 (715 RS, 673 RA)
Everything went the Giants' way last year -- other than Tim Lincecum's poor season -- and I just don't see the same return on good luck. The rotation has no depth if somebody gets hurt and I worry about the Lincecum-Barry Zito combo at the back of the rotation. Yes, I know ... they know how to win. And maybe that will prove to be the case.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 84-78 (655 RS, 625 RS)
Similar to the Blue Jays, there is a big boom or bust potential here. A lineup with 2011 Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez would be scary, but there are also potential problems at shortstop, third base and left field. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke should be a great 1-2, so the keys will be the next three starters and Kemp staying healthy and Gonzalez proving his bat isn't slowing down.
San Diego Padres: 72-90 (651 RS, 732 RA)
The offense could actually be pretty good -- although some of that quality is masked by Petco Park -- but I have hard time believing in a team with a rotation of Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard, Eric Stults, Jason Marquis and Tyson Ross.
Colorado Rockies: 68-94 (735 RS, 873 RA)
The good news: Troy Tulowitzki is back and healthy. The bad news: The rotation. Jeff Francis and Jon Garland? Come on.
Braves over Brewers (wild card)
Nationals over Diamondbacks
Reds over Braves
Nationals over Reds
Nationals over Rays