2013 MLB Over/Under Predictions – National League
The 2013 baseball season is upon us. There are bound to be many surprises, both good and bad around the league. Over the course of the next couple of days, I will be breaking down each of the thirty Major League teams. I will base my analysis on their over/under line given to them by the Atlantis Casino in Reno, Nevada.
Let's kick things off with the National League.
Arizona Diamondbacks: 81½
The Diamondbacks are often forgotten about in the NL West. The Giants are the reigning champions and the Dodgers are spending money like there's no tomorrow. While the most notable move of the D-Backs' offseason is undoubtedly dealing Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves for a package centered around Martin Prado, you can't discount the signing of outfielder Cody Ross, who has historically been a great asset to every team he's played for both on and off the field. They also added some good veteran presence in Eric Hinske and Eric Chavez, signed starter Brandon McCarthy and traded for overpaid reliever Heath Bell. The Diamondbacks are by no means a World Series contender just yet, but I do think they are moving in the right direction, although the starting rotation has a lot to prove. I think a lot will fall in their favor this year and I'm taking the over. 88 wins.
Atlanta Braves: 86
It's just as likely the Braves will soar over 86 wins and hit 94 like last year as it is they take a gigantic step back and finish at .500. Bringing in both Upton brothers is all well and good, but it's not going to be easy to make up for the losses of Michael Bourn, Martin Prado and Chipper Jones. Both Upton's have played their entire careers as “potential stars.” We have all waited for that time to come, and it may just happen in Atlanta in 2013, but they have not proven anything so far in their careers. Brian McCann is injury ridden and a shell of his former self, and I think the starting rotation will take a step back. With the Phillies getting better and the Nationals perhaps being the best team in baseball, I think 86 wins is a bit of a stretch. I'm taking the under. 83 wins.
Chicago Cubs: 72
I would have loved the Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston signings if the Cubs were headed in a positive direction, but they are not. The starting rotation is deplorable after Matt Garza and the lineup looks atrocious. I think 72 wins is actually being nice. The pitching staff finished 23rd in the league last year, and adding pitchers Edwin Jackson, post-Tommy John surgery Scott Baker and Scott Feldman are okay, but nothing that could get the Cubs over the hump. The only two reasons to watch the Cubs this season are to watch Anthony Rizzo develop and if Starlin Castro can get his act together and play up to his potential. Time will tell for both, but it will be a very long season if you're a Cubs fan. Take the under. 64 wins.
Cincinnati Reds: 88½
I love this team going into 2013 mostly because they look a lot like the team that won the Central in 2012. Aside from adding Shin-Soo Choo in the outfield, the team will pretty much be the same. Even Chapman will remain in the bullpen as the Reds' closer. The only real question this team has to worry about is how strong Joey Votto will be coming off of his knee injury, but I have no doubt in my mind he will put up a 30-100 season. I feel confident taking the over. 93 wins.
Colorado Rockies: 71½
The rotation in Colorado is a collection of number three starters and journeymen who have no business pitching in a ballpark that will surrender as many runs as Coors Field will. As is always the case with the Rockies, the lineup will score runs. They almost have to in the thin Denver air. If the Rockies have any chance of being relevant after the All-Star break, Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez have to figure out a way to stay on the field. I have virtually no expectations for this team going into 2013, especially since they are competing with the Dodgers, Giants, and Diamondbacks all season. I'm taking the under. 66 wins.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 90
The Dodgers continue to spend money at a ridiculous rate. I love the rotation, which was respectable to begin with but will now include Zack Grienke as well. I'm even excited to see what Josh Beckett can accomplish. After going 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA with Boston, he finished out the season with a pretty 2.93 ERA for the Dodgers. The Hanley Ramirez injury will be noticed, but the Dodgers lineup is strong enough that it shouldn't hold them back from scoring runs until he comes back. I don't see anything stopping the Dodgers from winning a lot of games this year and I think 90 wins is too low. I'm taking the over. 92 wins.
Miami Marlins: 64½
This one is pretty self explanatory. They were only able to salvage 69 wins last season, only to dismantle the team from the inside out as soon as the season was over. All of that money spent on Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell was for nothing as they all start 2013 with different squads. The worst ran franchise in all of sports will continue their pathetic ways. Look for free agent additions Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre to be dealt by the July 31st trade deadline. Will they move the great one? Will Giancarlo Stanton be put out of his misery and be dealt to a contender? That's the only thing to keep track of on that team this season. I'm taking the under. 55 wins.
Milwaukee Brewers: 79½
Nothing stands out about this Brewers team. I've been high on them in years past, even last year after losing Prince Fielder to free agency. This year is different, and I think they are going to take a significant step back to the pack. Last year, they had a much deeper pitching staff. Zack Grienke was traded in the middle of last season and Shaun Marcum signed with the Mets, leaving Yovani Gallardo as the ace of the staff. Gallardo is not a top of the rotation guy, and neither is newly signed Kyle Lohse. The bullpen is average. The defense is average. The lineup besides Ryan Braun is not intimidating in the slightest, and how hard is it going to be to face Ryan Braun if there's no one hitting around him? I'm taking the under. 75 wins.
New York Mets: 74
I love the direction the Mets are headed in. Besides the season-ending injury to Johan Santana (which not only weakens the pitching staff but also leaves the front office with virtually no valuable trading chips), getting a chance to see Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey play for the big team over the course of the season should be a treat for baseball fans. I have a feeling both will impress. Everything else about this team is a work in progress, but there will definitely be less of a cloud over the team than years past. As the season goes on, I can see the Mets giving a lot of teams trouble. I'm going to take the over. 76 wins.
Philadelphia Phillies: 81½
The Phillies were 14 games over .500 the last 75 games or so last season. This was after Howard and Utley came off the DL and trading Victorino and Pence to the National League West. They brought in the most underrated player in the game in the last ten years, Michael Young and traded for Ben Revere, a guy who will add a lot of speed to the lineup. The bullpen leaves a lot to be desired, and the rotation will certainly keep us interested throughout the season. Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are both capable of putting up disgustingly good numbers. Most scouts say Roy Halladay's best days are behind him, but after watching him pitch for his entire career, I have a hard time writing him off like that. After an extremely disappointing 2012, the Phillies should give fans a reason to come out to the ballpark. I'm taking the over. 86 wins.
Pittsburgh Pirates: 79
The string of sub-.500 seasons will finally come to an end for the Pirates this year. I love the Russell Martin signing. His leadership and ability to call a good game should pay off as the season roles on. The rotation and bullpen are both huge strengths for this team. A full season with Wandy Rodriguez complimenting AJ Burnett and James McDonald will also help them win games. One player to look out for is number one pick in the 2011 draft Gerrit Cole. Cole will be starting the season in AAA but will most certainly be up with the Pirates before it gets too late in the season. I can see the Pirates being in races for both the National League Central and one of the wild card spots, so adding a pitcher of Gerrit Cole's potential could perhaps be done out of necessity. I'm taking the over. 83 wins.
San Diego Padres: 74½
San Diego is still a few years away from being a legitimate threat in the National League West. They have a good group of young, hungry offensive players who will hopefully capitalize on the fact that they are finally moving the fences in at Petco Park. Their pitching leaves a lot to be desired though. They're going to be relying on Jason Marquis, Edinson Volquez and lefty Clayton Richard (in no order) to be at the top of the rotation. It should be another disappointing year for the Padres. I'm taking the under. 70 wins.
San Francisco Giants: 86
The Giants hit 86 wins 2011 when they lost their best all around player, Buster Posey for the majority of the season. All I can see is the Giants improving on last year. The only notable move they made was bringing back Andres Torres. I am expecting Hunter Pence being with the team for a full season to benefit both him and the team as well. I also think their pitching is one of the best in the league. The bullpen's only loss was Brian Wilson, and that's only because of his name recognition. He went down with his injury so early on in 2012, the Giants had an entire season to figure out who would take over the back end of the game. They don't rely on Tim Lincecum anymore to be their end all be all in the rotation. Rather, they have Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong who could compete with any team at any given time. I'm taking the over. 96 wins.
St. Louis Cardinals: 85½
Never bet against the Cardinals. No Chris Carpenter or Kyle Lohse? No problem. While Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia are very fragile, youngsters Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller should be a ton of fun to watch. The baseball world has heard about Miller's potential for years now. What's not to love about the lineup? Sure, Rafael Furcal is 35 and sure, Peter Kozma and Danny Descalso won't light the world on fire, but they get the job done in crunch time. I'm looking for Allan Craig to have a breakout season. He's a vastly underrated hitter and he it looks like he'll finally be playing a majority of his games at one position, first base. I'm taking the over. 87 wins.
Washington Nationals: 90
They're the best team in the National League. The core of the team is still the same from last year, except they're one year older with playoff experience under their belt. That can only play to their advantage. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Dan Haren, Jordan Zimmerman, and lefty Ross Detwiler round out one of the strongest pitching rotations in recent memory. The bullpen, which was strong for a good part of last year, gets stronger with the signing of new closer Rafael Soriano. The lineup only gets stronger with speedy centerfielder Denard Span. The Nationals are going to be a lot of fun to watch this season. I'm taking the over. 103 wins.
Here are my division standings predictions for the National League:
(* Denotes Wild Card winner)
National League East
New York Mets
National League Central
Saint Louis Cardinals
National League West
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers*
San Diego Padres
NL MVP prediction: Bryce Harper
NL Cy Young prediction: Cole Hamels
NL Rookie of The Year prediction: Shelby Miller