Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 National League Preview

Another regular season is upon us and that means that it is prediction time for a lot of writers across the inter-web. There will be surprise teams, surprise players, and even some other surprises along the way. The unknown and unpredictability of baseball is one of the most enduring qualities of "America's Past-time."

Through out the coming week, I will be making my picks for the National League and the American League, taking a closer look at the AL Central, and selecting awards for the Twins. Here is a look at the weekly schedule so make sure to stop in all week to get yourself primed for the season to come.

2014 Preview Series
  • National League Preview
  • American League Preview
  • American League Central Preview
  • Talk to Contact Preview Episode
  • Minnesota Twins Awards Preview
NL East Champions: Washington Nationals
The Nationals were a run away favorite for the NL East last season but things didn't really follow that plan. This year will be different, as the Nationals will fend off the Braves and other competitors for the top spot in the NL. Doug Fister will join a rotation which already includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmerman (a sleeper pick for the Cy Young Award). Bryce Harper looks to stay healthy this season and live up to the major hype that has surrounded the former number one pick. Atlanta's pitching injuries will allow the Nats to coast down the stretch and this will be a team to watch out for in September.

NL Central Champions: St. Louis Cardinals
It's hard to imagine a time when the Cardinals weren't in the fight for the top spot in the NL Central. This organization seems to know how to scout, develop talent, and create a roster at the big league level. The Pirates and the Reds will field good teams this year but this is still the Cardinals division to lose. Top pitching prospect Michael Wacha proved his worth in last year's postseason and top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras will look to make his big league debut. Catching stud Yadier Molina will be in the MVP discussion again as he tries to lead the Cards to their second World Series in the last four years.

NL West Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers
Things didn't go the Dodgers way last year as injuries and poor play put the team in a hole that was tough to get out of. Yasiel Puig's rookie campaign was hard to ignore but his behavior might push manager Don Mattingly to the brink. Clayton Kershaw has established himself as the best pitcher in the game. He will lead a strong staff that also includes the likes of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. If Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, and Adrian Gonzalez can avoid the injured list, this team could score a lot of runs and see themselves pushing Washington for the best record in baseball. The Giants and Diamondbacks might be pesky but this division belongs to Los Angeles.

Wild Cards: Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants
Last season was tough for the Giants but this year will be a bounce back year for one of the strongest franchises in the game. If Buster Posey can be behind the plate for over 140 games, he will be back in the MVP discussion. The addition of Tim Hudson to a stacked starting rotation of Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Tim Lincecum will help. Atlanta has been dealt a ton of injuries this spring but their line-up is still enough to overcome any pitching woes. Justin Upton and Jason Heyward will be back in form to push Atlanta back into the postseason but it will be a close race with the Reds and the Pirates not far behind.

National League Award Picks (Sleeper Pick)
MVP: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals (Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves)
Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (Jordan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals)
Rookie of the Year: Oscar Tavares, St. Louis Cardinals (Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds)
Manager of the Year: Matt Williams, Washington Nationals (Walt Weiss, Colorado Rockies)

No comments: