Tag Archives: NL West

2011 MLB predictions: National League

1 Apr

Albert Pujols (5) and Prince Fielder (28) look to have big years, as the MLB season began on Thursday. / majorvols

On Thursday, the 2011 MLB season got underway. And with that comes my 2011 predictions – who will win their division, awards and in the playoffs. First up is the National League.

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies.

No surprise here – the Phillies are poised to win their fifth straight division title. Most of the offseason talk has been about the acquisition of Cliff Lee, and whether his addition makes the 2011 pitching staff one of the best ever. They have two bonafide aces in Lee and Roy Halladay (who have three Cy Young awards between them), a great third option in Roy Oswalt – who has exactly zero seasons with a losing record – and the decent, if not entirely overrated, Cole Hamels in the fourth spot. The Phillies’ batting lineup – which features former NL MVPs Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, is among the deepest in baseball. Even though all-star second-baseman Chase Utley is expected to miss the first half of the season, look for the Phillies to finish the season with over 100 wins.

Runner-up: Atlanta Braves. While the Braves have a promising young team, the gap between them and the Phillies has been widened with the addition of Lee. They’ll look to earn the NL Wildcard spot for a second straight year.

NL East
2011 Prediction Last Season
1. Philadelphia Phillies 1 (97-65)
2. Atlanta Braves 2 (91-71)
3. Florida Marlins 3 (80-82)
4. Washington Nationals 5 (79-83)
5. New York Mets 4 (69-93)

NL Central: Milwaukee Brewers.

Last year, the Brewers finished third in the NL Central solely because they couldn’t pitch. While finishing second in the NL in hits and home runs, and fourth in runs, RBIs and OBP (on-base percentage), the Brewers ranked either 14th or 15th in ERA, batters walked, hits allowed, and WHIP. This year, the Brewers have garnered enough pitching to make the playoffs. They have a legitimate ace in former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, and good second and third options in Yovani Gallardo (2010: 14-7) and Shaun Marcum (2010: 13-8). There are few teams with a more talented one-through-four in the batting line-up (2B Rickie Weeks, RF Corey Hart, LF Ryan Braun, 1B Prince Fielder), and as long as Hart and Greinke can get themselves off the DL sooner rather than later, the Central is theirs to lose.

Runner-up: St. Louis Cardinals. The injury to Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright (2010: 20-11) really hurts them. While the Brewers have greatly improved their pitching, the Cardinals have no depth after Chris Carpenter. And despite the unearthly talents of Albert Pujols, not only can the Cardinals’ offense not make up for the lack of pitching, it is also inferior to the Brewers’.

NL Central
2011 Prediction Last Season
1. Milwaukee Brewers 3 (77-85)
2. St. Louis Cardinals 2 (86-76)
3. Cincinnati Reds 1 (91-71)
4. Houston Astros 4 (76-86)
5. Chicago Cubs 5 (75-87)
6. Pittsburgh Pirates 6 (57-105)

NL West: San Francisco Giants

After the Giants won it all last year, the rest of the division assumed the fetal position, trading away their best players in the offseason. The Giants will once again depend on their pitching staff – which led the NL in practically every statistical category last season.

Runner-up: Colorado Rockies. The Padres traded away their best player (Adrián González). The Rockies didn’t (Ubaldo Jiménez/Carlos González). Pretty simple.

NL West
2011 Prediction Last Season
1. San Francisco Giants 1 (92-70)
2. Colorado Rockies 3 (83-79)
3. San Diego Padres 2 (90-72)
4. Los Angeles Dodgers 4 (80-82)
5. Arizona Diamondbacks 5 (65-97)

Awards Predictions:

NL Rookie of the Year: Aroldis Chapman, Reds

NL Cy Young Award: Roy Halladay, Phillies; Runner-up: Tim Lincecum, Giants

NL MVP: Prince Fielder, Brewers; Runner-up: Albert Pujols, Cardinals

Coming up: 2011 American League predictions