2012 MLB Predictions: National League

Alright, I decided to try something new for my predictions this year. I ranked every starting player and gave them a score from 1 to 16. For example, I ranked all the first basemen. The Reds got a score of 16 for Joey Votto, the best first baseman in the National League. The Cubs received a 1 for Bryan LaHair. I did that for every position, and every starting pitcher and every closer, 1 through 5. I did not take into consideration benches or bullpens. Now, I know it probably isn't fair that the Dodgers get a 16 because Chris Capuano is the best 5th starter in the National League, but whatever, it is just a fun and unique way to come up with my predictions. So below is the final standings for all 16 National League teams, with their final score in parenthesis. I thought there were some interesting results. The projected lineups were the players I used in my rankings, at the beginning of Spring Training.

National League

The National League has never been more wide open. I think the Phillies, even with the injuries on offense, are still the class of the NL due to their pitching, but I think any of the top ten teams here have a chance to make the World Series.

Final score in parenthesis.

1. Philadelphia Phillies, (164). The Phillies have plenty of solid bats, but the reason they have the highest score in the National League is because of the dominating trio of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. On the offensive side, they will look for Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Jimmy Rollins to hold down the fort until Chase Utley and Ryan Howard return, if they even do.

2. Milwaukee Brewers, (153). I am surprised the Brewers finished second in these rankings. I like their rotation. Zack Greinke really came into his own after a tough couple of months made his ERA look worse then it really was. Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum are both very solid pitchers. The offense will definitely be hurt by the loss of Prince Fielder, but they have a few other bats. I love the addition of Aramis Ramirez. As a Cubs fan, I know how consistent he has always been.

3. Miami Marlins, (151). The Marlins have made the playoffs two times in their history, both times winning the World Series. Could they do it again? Very possibly. They were in on virtually every free agent this summer, and came away with Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. It is good for the 3 die hard Marlins fans that they spent money, but one has to be somewhat disappointed they did not land Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson or Yoenis Cespedes. Still, the pitching staff is very deep and experienced, and Giancarlo Stanton (what an awesome name upgrade) could smack 50 out of the park this year.

4. Washington Nationals, (143). I really really like the Nationals rotation. Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and John Lannan could be one of the best rotations in the National League. Still, I am surprised they ended up with the fourth best score. The offense still needs plenty of work. This team will really struggle to score runs. In actuality, 2013 is the year to look forward to if you are a Nationals fan, as phenom Bryce Harper will be with the team since day one. Still, with the wide open NL, I would not be surprised at all if they made the playoffs this year.

5. St. Louis Cardinals, (142). Sure, losing Albert Pujols is huge. Monster huge. Godzilla huge. St. Louis Arch huge. But, will it really affect them in the regular season? I don't think their record will be much different then last year. They lost Pujols, but added Carlos Beltran to a lineup already featuring Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman. Plus, the return of Adam Wainwright is huge. The Cardinals are the deepest and most experienced team in the National League Central. They could squeak into the playoffs again, and that is when they usually shine.

6. Arizona Diamondbacks, (138). The Diamondbacks came out of nowhere to win 94 games last year, as several players had career years. Could they do it again? On paper they look like the deepest team in the National West, but this team's record has fluctuated radically during the last few years. Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy thrived, and Justin Upton is a darkhorse MVP candidate. The West is wide open.

7. Atlanta Braves, (133). The Braves were cruising to a post season appearance before a monumental August collapse in 2011. Now they have to go up against a much tougher National League East. They have several good players, but I don't think they have that stud on offense to carry them. Dan Uggla, Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward all have upside, but are more complimentary players right now. The key will be the rotation. There is a ton of talent just waiting to break out. Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and much more. If all of those pitchers perform, they will definitely be in the playoff hunt.

8. Cincinnati Reds, (131). The Reds reverted to their losing ways after making the playoffs in 2010. The reason was a disastrous pitching season. Not surprisingly, Dusty Baker's rotation fell apart, like it always does. They traded for Mat Latos, but is he a product of the San Diego system? I don't think he is enough to get the Reds back into contention. But the offense is deep and powerful, with Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce leading the way. If they win, it will have to be with a lot of numbers on the score board.

9. San Francisco Giants, (125). The Giants continue to win behind a weak, veteran patchwork offense and a dominant pitching staff. That looks to be the recipe once again. It is hard for me to like their offense enough to make the playoffs, but the top three of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner is second to only the Phillies. All of those guys are young enough that you can still ride their arms as far as they will take you.

10. Los Angeles Dodgers, (112). The big news of course, is that the Dodgers were finally sold for *Dr. Evil Pinky* "One hundred billion dollars". The team boasts two of the National League's best players in Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp. The team will undoubtedly get better, but it will take a bit of time. They will be big spenders in the off season, and if they are winning, could even take on some guys at the trading deadline.

11. Colorado Rockies, (100). Just when you think the Rockies are rebuilding, they come out of nowhere to make a playoff push. It would not surprise me if that happened again. Their rotation is full of no name, but high upside, young guys. Jhoulys Chacin, Drew Pomeranz and Juan Nicaso are the keys to the Rockies success. The offense is led by Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and a number of youngsters. I don't think 2012 is their year, but they could make some serious noise in 2013.

12. San Diego Padres, (100). I am surprised the Padres actually got a score of 100. It must be because I think they have a pretty deep rotation. PetCo Park makes guys seem better then they really are. The offense, as usual, is an absolute mess, full of journeyman veterans and other team's castoffs. I do like the potential that Yonder Alonso, Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin offer.

13. New York Mets, (90). The Mets are on the right track. They were losing with big salaries. The team is trying to cut those salaries, while at the same time giving young players opportunities. But the payroll is still high, due to the monster contracts for Johan Santana, Jason Bay and David Wright. When you consider that Santana and Bay are two of the teams least productive players, that says something. This team will lose a lot, but at least they have something to look forward to.

14. Pittsburgh Pirates, (79). Remember last year when the team was over .500 for a couple of weeks and Pirates fans were going crazy? Predictably, that did not last. Since the days of Honus Wagner it seems like, the Pirates will go into the 2012 season with a patchwork lineup of castoff veterans (Erik Bedard, Rod Barajas, AJ Burnett, Clint Barmes) and underachieving youngsters (Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata). The one constant on this team is Andrew McCutchen, who is a stud and the best Pirate in a while. The team does have some young arms who will be ready in a year or two, but expect the 700th losing season in a row for the Pirates.

15. Chicago Cubs, (73). I am a Cubs fan. Unfortunately. At least we can come into this season knowing the Cubs are going to be terrible. And honestly, I am okay with that. Chicago hired Theo Epstein, who in turn hired Jed Hoyer. In the first time in forever, the Cubs seem to have a plan. Epstein is a superstar GM, so he will have the patience of the new Cubs owner. And he will need it. The team is going to let the poisonous contracts run their course and build around cheap, young signings and the draft. I for one am all for it. For 2012, however, the results won't be pretty. Matt Garza and Starlin Castro are very good players to build around, but there is just not enough talent for the Cubs to win games. Soon Ryan Dempster, Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano will be gone, and the Cubs will have plenty of money to spend.

16. Houston Astros, (53). There is no team in Major League Baseball worse off then the Houston Astros. Ever since their World Series appearance a few years ago, the team has been snowballing downhill. Last year they finally hit the bottom and exploded into a million pieces. Management admitted defeat and traded away half the team for youngsters. It will be a very long rebuilding process as the minor league system is not very good. Unfortunately for Houston, they get to move to the American League West next season, so they get to get pounded by the Angels and Rangers.

Predicted Standings

National League East

1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Miami Marlins
3. Washington Nationals
4. Atlanta Braves
5. New York Mets

National League Central

1. Milwaukee Brewers
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Houston Astros

National League West

1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. San Francisco Giants
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres

Jonathan Carrano

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