2012 MLB Preview; National League

Posted by    |    April 6th, 2012 at 2:44 pm

NEW THIS YEAR: An extra Wild Card spot per league! Grab ‘em while/if you can!

New Astros Shortstop Jed Lowrie


I know, I know, the season has already started, but in order to properly make my 2012 Major League Baseball season predictions, I simply had to know if corner outfielder Justin Ruggiano was going to make the Astros opening day roster, (he didn’t) if newly acquired shortstop Jed Lowrie was starting the season on the Disabled List or not, and between Jordan Lyles, Kyle Weiland, and Lucas Harrell, who the heck was not making the initial pitching rotation?! So many questions, and these only concern 1/30 of so many unanswered questions that were finally resolved just hours ago – or concerning Lowrie, minutes.

But I have my answers, and without further adieu, I present you my 2012 baseball predictions.

Instead of a three part production that many of my readers called an “essay” for better or worse, you’re getting a clean, neat, easy-to-read division by division prediction. Saving the best for last, let us (me) begin.

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

If not for the closing change in the city of brotherly love, electing to let Ryan Madson walk and sign former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, the popular World Series favorite from the 2011 campaign would begin this year with a severly depleted squad. Franchise faces and occupants of half the infield, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are both nursing injuries that are terrible in their own way. Howard fell down steps from home plate on his very final play of 2011 and limped off the field and into the winter with an Achilles injury. Utley is pretty much ailing everywhere and both players are expected to miss a significant portion of the season. But I picked them. Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and rising star Vance Worley will keep the Phils in every game, and while the Marlins have completely revamped their organization, moving from Florida to Miami (right?) and spending millions and millions and millions of dollars that owner Jeffery Loria found under his couch cushions, the Atlanta Braves pose the biggest threat to Philadelphia. If Atlanta gets numbers from right fielder Jason Heyward that they were expecting a year ago before he flopped miserably, it could be a race. Expect Atlanta to grab one of those Wild Card spots. Also remember the name Freddie Freeman. Please, for me.

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

I successfully predicted a Brewers NL Central title last year, and Albert Pujols and co. returned the favor with a World Series title over yu know who. (Edit: I said “Yu”.)

Milwaukee lucked out when Ryan Braun somehow won his steroid hearing and his appeal of his 50 game substance abuse suspension was overturned, much to the dismay of Commissioner Bud Selig. Prince Fielder has obviously left town, receiving $214 million more from Detroit than Milwaukee was willing to pay. The three headed monster in their pitching rotation with Greinke-Marcum-Gallardo will keep the Brewers in contention, but Mat Gamel is not Prince Fielder. As for the rest of the division, many fellow experts (yeah, I said it) have Cincinnati capturing the division and even a pennant and even a championship, but I’m not buying it. The Pirates continue to grow and the Astros not being the “LAstros” is a (biased) gut feeling. New Cubs President Theo Epstein undoubtedly has a plan in place to rebuild the Cubs just like he did the Red Sox. But right now, they stink.

Diamondbacks Manager Kirk Gibson

National League West
Spoiler Alert: I have a leftover Wild Card spot to assign!
1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. San Francisco Giants WC
3. Colorado Rockies
4. San Diego Padres
5. Los Angeles Dodgers

Kirk Gibson is known for his basically one-legged homer into the right field porch, but last year he was the NL Manager of the Year, winning over his locker room with a “no cell phone” policy and also becoming one of my favorite skippers in the game. Kevin Towers, also one of my favorite General Managers in the game, has done a great, great job building a young, energetic, and balanced contender. Heck, I like this team a lot. Another division title coming right up. The Padres and Dodgers, the latter under new ownership led by legendary NBA superstar Magic Johnson (It’s Magic, Michael Wilbon, okay?! It’s MAGIC) are going to be pesky with some solid arms, but do not project as a threat. The Rockies will be an interesting team to watch, as they develop young arms like Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, but stud bats “Tulo” and “Cargo” will keep the Rocks in the race. Then the second place Giants, whoare my other NL wild card selection. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are on new deals, and young arm Madison Bumgarner is going to take another step towards joining those two as bonafide aces. The baseball version of the “G Men” added outfielders Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, and prized prospect 1B/OF Brandon “Giraffe” Belt is expected to be a big contributor for my second wild card winner.

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