National League East Predictions
The Washington Nationals surprised everyone in 2012 in capturing the NL East title with a 98-64 season. They finished four games ahead of Atlanta (94-68) and a whopping 17 games ahead of Philadelphia (81-81), which came into the season as the favorite to win the division. These three teams all figure to be very strong once again in 2013, while the New York Mets and Miami Marlins are stuck in rebuilding mode. Here is a look at how I have the NL East playing out in 2013. I have also listed each team’s odds to win the division.
1. Washington Nationals (-120) – Off a 98-win campaign last year, the Nationals certainly haven’t gotten any weaker this offseason. If anything, they have gotten stronger. They added Denard Span to an already dangerous lineup that features Harper, Zimmerman, LaRoche, Worth and Desmond. Stephen Strasburg no longer has an innings limit, so they’ll have him as their ace for a full season this time around. Plus, they’ve added former ace Dan Haren to the staff, and he should bounce back from a down year with a switch to the National League. Washington has former Yankees’ closer Rafael Soriano closing out games in the bullpen as well. This is the team to beat in the NL East.
2. Atlanta Braves (+240) – The Braves are coming off a 94-win season last year. If anything, they have gotten stronger this offseason as well. They added the Upton brothers in Justin and B.J., and with Jason Heyward coming into his own last year, they have arguably the best outfield in baseball. I am a little concerned with the rotation outside of Kris Medlen and Tim Hudson, but the bullpen features the best closer in the league in Craig Kimbrel. This is a strong team that should compete with Washington for the division title. It will certainly be playing postseason baseball for a second straight year.
3. Philadelphia Phillies (+310) – The Phillies are probably the most underrated team in the league heading into 2013. They were one of the favorites to win the World Series in 2012, but completely fell apart. They rallied to finish .500 at 81-81 on the season as everything that could go wrong did. Now, with a healthy return of Roy Halladay, the Phillies have arguably the best rotation in the league. Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee headline it, but don’t overlook John Lannan and Kyle Kendrick. I like the additions of Michael Young, Delmon Young and Ben Revere to the lineup. If Ryan Howard and Chase Utley can finally stay healthy for a full season, look out for the Phillies in 2013.
4. New York Mets (+1650) – The Mets won just 74 games last season and did little this offseason to improve. They have traded away two of their best players in 2011 batting champ Jose Reyes, and 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. It’s unfortunate that a player with the talent of David Wright may never get a chance at a World Series. Aside from Wright, this is easily one of the worst lineups in baseball. However, I do believe the Mets will have one of the more underrated rotations in the game. Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee, Shaun Marcum, and Jon Niese are all solid. Now, ace Johan Santana just needs to stay healthy for a full season. The bullpen is worrisome, too, with the shaky Frank Francisco closing out games. The Mets will finish well behind the top three teams in the NL East.
5. Miami Marlins (+6500) – The Marlins are returning to their old ways of cutting payroll. Gone are Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, and in are a boatload of prospects. While they may find some gems in these prospects, it’s clearly going to take a while for the Marlins to return to being competitive. Giancarlo Stanton is now the only real star attraction in Miami, and even he’s not happy. The rotation is in shambles with Ricky Nolasco as its ace. Nolasco has posted an ERA lower than 4.48 just once in his seven seasons in the big leagues. This team could easily lose 100 games in 2013.