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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

MLB: National League Preview

Predictions

STANDINGS
NL East

1. Atlanta Braves
2. Florida Marlins
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. New York Mets
5. Washington Nationals
* The NL East has become one of the best divisions in baseball this season and look for the race to be tight. Atlanta is gonig for their 14th straight divison crown and have a retooled starting rotation led by Tim Hudson and John Smoltz. The Mets are a better club with Beltran and Pedro, but they still lack depth in their pen and need a reliable closer should Looper falter early. Look for the Phillies to make a hard charge for the Wild Card this year as they bost a potent offense, and perhaps the best bullpen in the majors with tough lefties Rheal Cormier and Billy Wagner. The Marlins added Carlos Delgado to sure up first base and Miguel Cabrera should also help that offense provide enough runs for their young aces. As for the Nationals, well I guess some people are happy to have baseball in Washington again, but the Senators were usually awful, and I expect much the same from the Montreal Expos of the District.

NL Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Cincinnatti Reds
4. Houston Astros
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
* Look for the Cardinals to dominate this division again with their everyday lineup being the best in the game today. While the Cubs are the easy favorites on paper, nobody believes that Wood and Prior can hold up all season, needless to say they forgot to replace Sammy's bat in the offseason. The Reds should continue to improve and are probably another productive offseason away from seriously contending for the division. The Astros are going to be the underachievers of this bunch. Age is catching up with Biggio, Bagwell and Clemens, and they won't have Berkman for at least another month. This race would be closer if the talent on the Cubs and Astros could trump their age and injuries, but that just doesn't figure to be true.

NL West
1. San Diego Padres
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. San FRansisco Giants
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Colorado Rockies
* With Bonds out for who knows how long, the Padres have to be the immediate favorite. Their young core of infielderds and pitchers should be just enough to outlast the weak teams out west. Arizona poses no threat, and LA is still looking for an identity after bringing in JD Drew but shipping out their leader Paul LoDuca. Again, this whole division hinges on Bonds. If he plays in 120+ games, the Giants should take the division. I just don't have enough confidence right now to say he is gonig to make it into that many games.

NL Wild Card
1. Florida Marlins
2. Philadelphia Phillies
3. Chicago Cubs
* Again look for the Marlins to sneak in behind the Braves, but be very formidable come playoff time.

Playoffs
Marlins over the Cardinals in 6
Padres over the Braves in 6

Marlins over the Padres in 5

2005 NL Champions: Florida Marlins


AWARDS
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
NL Cy Young: Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves
NL Rookie of the Year: Gavin Floyd, Philadelphia Phillies
NL Newcomer: Carlos Delgado, Florida Marlins
Most Improved Team: Philadelphia Phillies

LEAGUE LEADERS
Wins: Eric Milton, Cincinnatti Reds
Saves: Jason Isringhausen, St. Louis Cardinals
K's: Jason Schmidt, San Fransisco Giants
Batting Average: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
HR: Adam Dunn, Cincinnatti Reds
RBI: Jim Thome, Philadelphia Phillies

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