Monday, May 25, 2015

2015 National League Predictions

This post is a mirror image of my last post on the AL, which you can read here.  In that post, I wrapped up my final thoughts on the AL for the 2015 season.  While I started my team breakdowns before the season, life slowed me down and I’m behind.  Since an important part of my breakdowns are predictions, I decided to open my NL breakdowns with this post, even though it’s not my “final” thoughts, as it was for the AL.  I’ll call these my initial thoughts and then publish all my breakdowns based on this post. 

We are already well into the season so my predictions need to come ASAP if people are to buy them.  But, as you’ll see, I made my predictions at the beginning of the year and haven’t changed them.  I just haven’t posted them yet.  So I’ll post them now, even if they are way off, and then later in the year I’ll make some adjustments. 

Okay, without further ado, here are my national league predictions for the 2015 season.

NL Standings:

NL East

Washington Nationals

Miami Marlins

New York Mets

Atlanta Braves

Philadelphia Phillies

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals

Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates

Milwaukee Brewers

Chicago Cubs

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies

Okay so those are my projected PRESEASON standings from before the year began.  I don’t have any other proof, other than the fact that there are some picks I wish I could undo. 

The Nats got off to a slow start, but are back on track in the East.  It’s the Marlins that are the biggest disappointment to me, though I have never had any trust in the owner or system in Miami.  For that reason I’m not overly surprised, but I can honestly say I thought they’d be better.  It’s not too late, but they are on a really rough run right now.

In the Central, the Cubs are playing a little better than I thought.  The Brewers are far worse than I thought.  The Cards are where I expected them to be.  And the Reds and Pirates are playing worse than I expected, but still similarly matched, just lower in the standings than I thought.

In the West, the Dodgers are where I expected them to be.  The Giants and Diamondbacks are far better than I thought and the Padres aren’t playing like I thought they could.   I didn’t think the Padres would be great, but better than they are currently playing, especially considering how well Justin Upton is hitting.  I guess I correctly pegged the Rockies, hot April aside.

I haven’t made any changes to my standings and won’t make any adjustments to my playoff picks at this time.  Those are posted below:

NL Playoffs

NL East Winner:                     Washington Nationals

NL Central Winner:                 St. Louis Cardinals

NL West Winner:                    Los Angeles Dodgers

First Wildcard:                       San Diego Padres

Second Wildcard:                    Cincinnati Reds

Wildcard Round:                     Reds over Padres

NLDS 1:                                   Nationals over Reds

NLDS 2:                                   Cardinals over Dodgers

NLCS:                                      Nationals over Cardinals

NL Champ:                              Washington Nationals

So those are my playoff predictions.  I like the Nationals a lot this year, and feel better about them now that they have rebounded from their sluggish start.  They have the best team on paper (in my opinion) and the pitching to win playoff series.  The Cardinals and Dodgers should be solid as well, but I just think the Nationals are too good to be beaten.

I can say the Reds and Padres aren’t playing as well as I thought, but other than that the rest of my playoff picks look good to this point.  But we are still very early in the season.  So we’ll have to see how it plays out.  In my AL Post, I picked the Kansas City Royals to return to the World Series.  In my predictions, I have them meeting the Nationals.  How do I see that playing out?

World Series:                          Nationals over Royals in 6

World Series Champ:              Washington Nationals

I am bullish on the Nats this year, even though they are a division rival of my team.  They seem to be on track now and with that starting staff and offense, I just can’t see them running into many sustained periods of losing. 

NL Awards

NL MVP:                                 Giancarlo Stanton

NL Cy Young:                          Johnny Cueto

NL Manager of the Year:        Matt Williams

With Stanton, I figured he’d have another great year, but finally have the team around him to give him support.  It’s hard to win an MVP if teams continuously pitch around you.  With the addition of Prado and Morse, I thought Stanton might get more pitches to hit.  Morse has struggled, but Prado has not.  However, he’s hitting in front of Stanton and behind the very impressive Dee Gordon.  So the protection is Marcell Ozuna, the struggling Morse and then Yelich.  It’s not bad.  But it’s not the support I imagined.  The other guy I considered was Paul Goldschmidt, who I think should have won over McCutchen a few years ago (compare their numbers in 2013, you’ll see what I mean).  But I didn’t pick Goldy because of his supporting cast.  At this point, it seems that Stanton is the one missing the supporting cast.  He has good HR/RBI numbers, but it often pitched around in RBI situations and his AVG isn’t’ anywhere near where he wants it to be.

For the Cy Young, it’s easy to just jot down Kershaw’s number every year.  I almost did this year, but figured eventually the West had to figure out something against him, even if just for a few months.  If that were to happen, perhaps it would hurt his numbers enough for another great pitcher, like Cueto or Wainwright to take the mantle.  Cueto was great last year and is pitching in a contract year.  While I liked Wainwright and also considered Scherzer (new guy in a new league that hasn’t seen him much and playing in a weak division), I settled on Cueto because we know he’s great, he has been for a while and is playing for a team that I thought would be playoff bound.  Also, if he pitches well enough he’ll start the All Star game in his home stadium, and that cache may give him an edge at the end of the year when we vote for awards.  Seeing Kershaw’s early struggles, I am lucky I made this call.   But I could have gone with Wainwright and been way off.  I love Cueto, his stuff and his makeup.  But if the Reds don’t make the playoffs, he may be overlooked at awards time.

And the Manager of the Year was the toughest.  When you are given a great roster, people often don’t give you credit.  They figure the only thing that can derail a good roster is the manager, so if the team struggles, it’s the manager’s fault.  If they don’t, then any success is expected and not often given the credit it is due.  But we have seen good teams on paper struggle to overcome expectations and stay focused for a full year.  If the Nats play as well as I think they will, I think that will be because Matt Williams kept them focused and playing hard for the full season.  For that reason, I thought that Williams would be a good choice.  I also considered Don Mattingly, Bud Black and Mike Matheny.  But if the Nationals do indeed have the best record in the league, I don’t see how you can’t give Williams this award.  And I happen to think they will achieve all the greatness so many predict of them.  So I’ll stand by this pick for now.

Ok that’s it.  The NL breakdowns are coming soon, staring with the NL East, and my World Series pick, the Washington Nationals.

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