MLB Analysis: Breaking Down the National League After One Month

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If you happened to miss part one of the my Major League baseball preview/recap of baseball after the first month, which deals with the American League, you can find it here. Today, we bang out the Senior Circuit, which sounds a lot more like an ambitious 19-year-old’s trip to a nursing home on a drug-fueled weekend than a baseball write-up. But don’t be fooled – that’s not what we’re about here.


National League East

Washington Nationals - They’re probably not going to win the NL East with all the injuries they’re dealing with offensively, but they’ve started out the season on a tear. They’re fun to watch, their GM fancies himself some sort of Cowboy, and they have a 19-year-old kid hitting third in the order. Quite a team. The young pitching is awesome, and it’s not like it’s just Stephen Strasburg. Ross Detwiler, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman have all been awesome, and Edwin Jackson has been Edwin Jackson. But as good as they have been, the offense will likely struggle even with Bryce Harper stealing home on a semi-regular basis, and the pitching has to come back to Earth after literally the best April for a starting rotation in 50 years. Don’t get me wrong – they’re good – I just don’t think they’re the best team in the NL. They’ve got second Wild Card written all over them, and I wouldn’t want to play them.

Atlanta Braves - Watch me hit you with some truth here: The Braves are going to win this division. How do I know? Well, besides being a prophet, I watch them play a decent amount, and they’ve got as much hitting as anyone in the division plus a solid top two in the rotation. They can’t quite match-up with the Phillies and Nationals pitching-wise, but they out-slug both of them, and they’re pitching will keep things close. Just trust me on this one, even if I’m not presenting a ton of evidence. Jason Heyward will be better, Freddie Freeman is already hitting well and Brandon Beachy is pitching like an ace. Boom.

New York Mets - Don’t get too excited. I’ve met the Mets, and they’re not going to finish above .500. They’ve had a nice start, but Daniel Murphy is a utility player getting WAY too much playing time, and I’m sure David Wright will break his wrist pretty soon. Plus, do you have a ton of faith in R.A. Dickey (don’t laugh) or Johan Santata? Not I, and especially not in this division. A quick start for the Mets just means a terrible June is upcoming.

Miami Marlins - If Ozzie Guillen doesn’t scare these guys into thinking that he’s going to kill them if they look at him wrong, then they still have a chance to be a Wild Card contender. They’ve dealt with Ozzie’s Fidel-fest, Josh Johnson’s terrible start and, now, Ozzie aggressively swearing at an innocent reporter. And, somehow, they’ve still managed to tread water. There’s no where left to go but up, even if Gaby Sanchez might be forced to go down…

Philadelphia Phillies - The single biggest thing April has taught us about the National League? The Phillies can’t hit a baseball for shit. They have a few guys who are doing okay right now, but those guys are Juan Pierre, Carlos Ruiz and Laynce Nix. Shane Victorino has been mediocre and Jimmy Rollins is washed up. Thank God for Roy Halladay and tough guy Cole Hamels, not to mention a solid early season showing from Fat Joe Blanton. When Cliff Lee comes back, they have way too much pitching to not get better. They’ll still be playoff-bound

National League Central

St. Louis Cardinals – The Cardinals let Albert Pujols walk because they didn’t want to pay him $300 million, the Angels are now in last place, the Cardinals are playing great, Pujols has one home run and Tony La Russa is spending his retirement obscenely drunk and most likely streaking around his neighbor’s yards. Life is good. Everyone in their lineup is hitting  - and I mean everyone – and they have three starters with ERA’s of 2.12 or better. Apparently Lance Lynn is good. Who knew? Now, we all do, and the Cardinals will run away with this division.

Cincinnati Reds - Aroldis Chapman can pitch, man, and the Reds have absolutely no idea what to do about it. You throw 105? Uh…ok…go in the bullpen? No wait..the rotation…uh…be a set-up man? Fuck, we don’t know. All we can be sure of is that Dusty Baker will ruin his career by this time next week. As for the rest of the team, Jay Bruce is a legitimate power hitter at this point, and Johnny Cueto is turning out to be pretty damn good for a lunatic. They aren’t all that good in reality, but with Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips in the mix as well as the other guys I mentioned, they have enough to stay in second in this crappy division.

Houston Astros - Nope, I’m not falling for it. Just because you’re in third place in a six-team division doesn’t make you good. Your three games under .500, Jed Lowrie is your best hitter (I just picked him up on one of my fantasy teams) and Kyle Weiland is on the team. Nope. You’re headed for 75 wins.

Pittsburgh Pirates - My God, this division is wretched. No wonder the Cardinals look so good. The Pirates are in fourth, which means there are two teams right now in the NL Central that are playing worse than Pittsburgh. Let’s see, how can I be nicer about this….um…you might finish in third in the division. But probably not.

Milwaukee Brewers - No Prince Fielder? No prob…oh wait…big problem. Ryan Braun just started doing PED’s again, thankfully for Milwaukee, because now he’s actually hitting. Yet, in the worst division in baseball, the Brewers are 12-17, and they don’t have a guy with more than 14 RBI except for Braun. Their pitching,which has been bad so far, has to get better, which means that – by process of elimination – they’re probably the second best team in the division. Wild Card, perhaps?

Chicago Cubs - Thanks for sending the Red Sox Marlon Byrd. Couldn’t you have warned us that he sucks? Oh well. It’s still nice to see Theo’s new club playing like crap early on, even if the Sox have been just as bad. I’m going to cut right to it though: they aren’t going to contend. Yet, their is still reason to watch. 29-year-old Bryan LaHair is hitting at first base like Adrian Gonzalez was supposed to hit, and he and Starlin Castro are two of the better players in the division right now. Castro should be for the long haul, we’ll have to wait and see on LaHair.

National League West

Los Angeles Dodgers - The only thing you need to know about the Dodgers right now is that Matt Kemp plays for them. The rest of the guys could all hit .150 and they would still be in first place. Kemp has been so hot that he’s inspired Andre Ethier not to slack off, and Ethier actually has 30 RBI – which is more than Kemp. Ted Lilly has found the rejuvenation machine, and Clayton Kershaw will be more than fine. Does that mean the Dodgers are actual contenders? Hell no. But they could make a run at the second Wild Card spot.

San Francisco Giants - Matt Cain has pitched like he deserves that contract, which kind of makes me angry, because he doesn’t deserve that contract. Kung Fu Panda is sidelined, Tim Lincecum has been up and down, and that’s led to a 14-15 start to the year. They’ll probably be better, because the division - and really the National League as a whole – kind of sucks, but it all comes down to Lincecum. Without him, they’re just a weird, long-haired, light-hitting club on the West coast. With him, they’re contenders. He’ll come around – he always does.

Arizona Diamondbacks - They’re all counting down the days until Chris Young comes off the DL in Arizona, because he was ripping the cover off the ball in the early season before getting hurt. They need him, and they need him fast, because they’re not good to sustain a really long run of success without their top players. Then again, like I keep saying, most of the teams they’ll be playing suck…so let’s not rule them out entirely.

Colorado Rockies - At 12-16, they’ve been pretty bad, and they’re probably not going to get a hell of a lot better. Jamie Moyer is the best part about this team, both because he’s weirdly paranoid about people stealing signs and because he’s damn near 50 years old, throws 79 mph and still gets people out. His ERA is 4.01, and it leads the team’s starters.  That alone makes the Rockies entertaining, plus Carlos Gonzalez is awesome. I guess I won’t rule them out entirely either…

San Diego Padres - They’re 10-20 so far. I’m ruling them out. Sorry San Diego – you are officially the worst team in all of baseball, and that’s saying something in the National League. Enjoy the view.

Bottom Line - The league itself is horrible, there is a surplus of decent pitching but that might only be because the hitting is so bad, four teams in the NL East have a chance to make the playoffs, Tony LaRussa is naked right now, Tim Lincecum will get better, Matt Kemp will cool down, the Brewers might make the playoffs despite being bad, the Cardinals should come back to Earth, Bryce Harper might only hit.280 but he’ll be great, Gio Gonzalez is going to win the Cy Young, the Padres make me want to rub saline solution in my eyes and Ozzie Guillen should wear a straitjacket at all times, even when in the shower.

Everybody, I give you the National League.

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