In a previous article, I made MLB division by division predictions for the American League. Now, I’m going to provide my predictions for who I believe the top two teams will be in each National League Division.
National League East
1. Atlanta Braves
The Braves have two of the most talented, young Venezuelan baseball stars in second baseman Ozzie Albies and outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. These guys just get on base, Albies held a .285 batting average last year in 640 at-bats. He tallied 24 home runs and 865 runs batted in and a mere .852 on base percentage. Acuna Jr. was one step ahead 41 home runs, 101 RBI’s, 37 stolen bases and an .883 on base percentage. The Braves still have Freddie Freeman at first base, they added career .272 hitter Marcell Ozuna as well 2015 number one overall pick Dansby Swanson who is still only 26 and has yet to reach his full potential. The Braves should not only make moves in the division, but I expect they’ll be sitting in the same spot last year against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, looking to earn their way back into the World Series.
2. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies come into this year with high expectations as Joe Girardi takes over the managerial position. Girardi has an experienced and well-rounded team in front of him that should make some noise this year. Before last year, Bryce Harper signed a 13-year contract worth 330 million dollars. In his first year with the Phillies, it didn’t go as planned. He had an average of .260, 35 home runs and 114 RBI’s. That’s a great season by normal standards, but with a contract like that, making roughly $63,000 an at-bat, you want more production. Outfielder Andrew Mccutchen comes back after a season ending injury last year before the season began. They added infielder Didi Gregorious in the offseason and they still have Rhys Hoskins at first base who holds a lot of power in his bat. With New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard out for the season, Aaron Nola becomes arguably one of the top pitchers in the league. Jake Arietta, even at the age of 34, is not far off from his outstanding years with the Chicago Cubs.
National League Central
1. Chicago Cubs
I’m not as confident as I want to be in picking the Cubs to win the Central Division. Joe Maddon is no longer the manager; former catcher David Ross takes over a still young and talented team. The Cubs have a three-headed monster in the lineup with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez and that’s excluding Kyle Schwarber and star catcher Wilson Contreras. On the mound, Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks make up one of the most all-around pitching staffs in baseball. They fell short of the playoffs last year, but my heart believes and hope they’ll be in front when all is said in done this year.
2. Milwaukee Brewers
Christian Yelich and Pete Davidson clone had one of the best offensive performances throughout last year. In 489 at-bats, he hit for .329 average, 44 home-runs and 97 RBI’s. He had an OPS of 1.100. Do I expect that will perform as well as he did last year? No, I don’t, but with Yelich in your lineup, you have a lot of potential. Lorenzo Cain captured the 2019 Gold Glove last season and is no slouch at the plate either. Brewers manager Craig Counsel may have had one of the most uncomfortable looking batting stances I have ever seen when he played, but he’s a hell of a manager and I expect the Brewers won’t be too far behind the Cubs, if not ahead of them, at the end of the season.
National League West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
On paper, the Dodgers are unfair. In the real world, they’re still unfair. Clayton Kershaw wen 16-5 last year with an earned run average of 3.03. His career ERA is 2.44. He’s the best pitcher in baseball and it’s not all that close. Walker Buehler, who only came into the league in 2017, had 215 strikeouts last year, a 14-4 record and an ERA of 3.26. The Dodgers also added former Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts to a lineup with Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Max Muncy, Cory Seager and Justin Turner. This team is stacked, it’s like a team you’d configure on a fantasy draft where you hold every pick. They’re going to win the 2020 World Series.
2. San Diego Padres
It doesn’t really matter, the Padres are no longer the bottom feeders in the NL West, but I suspect they’ll still be well behind in the divisional race. Maybe they can get a wild-card spot with young phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado anchoring that lineup, but when you’re in a division with the Dodgers right now, you’re going to fall behind them.
Please come back soon, baseball.