As the first Spring Training games are about to be played, everyone is thinking about Opening Day. This post is looking at the post season and will try to predict: “Who will win the Division?” Today we start with my prediction for the NL East. My next post will look at the AL East. And we’ll go around the country Division by Division.
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The problem with the Miami team is that last year they spent a lot of money buying good players, but they couldn’t pull it together. They ended up stinking up their brand new stadium with 93 losses. After the All Star Game, they shipped their Face of the Franchise, Hanley Ramirez, to the Dodgers. (I wrote about this as my first Matt’s Bats post). In the offseason, they dismantled the team even more by sending Jose Reyes, John Buck, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and Mark Buehrle to the Toronto Blue Jays. All they really have left is Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison (both of who were injured last year). And more, they play half their games in Marlins Park where the fences are a whopping 418 feet from the fish tanks at home plate. It takes a lot of power to hit a homer at Marlins Park. I feel bad for the poor little fishies living in the tank, because their home could be broken by a ball, and because they have to watch the Marlins every day.
4. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have signed Ben Revere to replace Shane Victorino, as he became a Dodger last year. With Jimmy Rollins at short, Kevin Frandsen at third, Chase Utley at second, and Ryan Howard at first, the Phillies will have a power defense. They had poor 2012 because they had a lot of injuries. I think that 2013 will be a recovery year for them. Their team is also getting older, and they’re not the same team that ran the Division for so many years.
3. New York Mets
This is a little controversial to pick the Mets to finish ahead of the Phillies, but the trio of Ruben Tejada, Kirk Neiuwenhuis, and David Wright will blow pitchers out of the game. Jordany Valdispin, who disappointed the Nats a few times last year off the bench, will help the Mets too. John Buck, who got passed from the Marlins to the Blue Jays to the Mets in the R.A. Dickey deal, is also a good backstop and will delight Mets pitchers
2. Atlanta Braves
With Martin Prado, Chipper Jones, Tommy Hanson, and Michael Bourn now fleeing from Atlanta, the Braves have little talent despite the rich minor league and the Upton Bros. patrolling the outfield. In 2013, they’ll specialize in the outfield, and rookie short stop Andrelton Simmons will win the Braves (and maybe even the League) MVP. They’ll give the Nats a challenge, but my prediction is they won’t lead the NL East this year (maybe a wild card win again, though). The Braves are still a dangerous opponent.
1. Washington Nationals
There is really no question here. The Nats have the best rotation in the bigs, backed up by power offense with the Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Laroche, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond, and Danny Espinosa punch. The bullpen is as tough as the starting rotation. For the 7th, they got Christian Garcia. For the 8th, they got Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen. For the 9th they got former Yankees closer Rafael Soriano. Best defense and offense in the NL East. The addition of Denard Span, Dan Haren and Rafael Soriano put the finishing touches on the team that had the best record in MLB in 2012. General Manager Mike Rizzo and owner Theodore Lerner have a rich future with the newest franchise.