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Tuesday July 15, 2008 5:08 pm

2008 MLB Predictions - N.L. Division and Wildcard Winners




Posted by Dennis Velasco Categories:

Continuing on with our series of predictions, let’s take a look at the National League Division and Wildcard (predictive… is this even a word?) winners. You can check out the A.L. division/wildcard winners here.

WHO WILL WIN EACH NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION AND THE WILDCARD?

NL EAST - New York Mets

Yes, we all know about the huge choke job last season, but this time, I don’t think it’s going to go down that way. I expect it to be a dogfight straight through with no one really running away with it as the Mets did last season… til the last 15 games or so, anyway. The Atlanta Braves should be as good as always, and of course you can’t count out the Philadelphia Phillies, the defenders of this here division, but with the acquisition of Johan Santana, the return for hopefully a full season for Pedro Martinez, as well as the continued growth of both John Maine and Oliver Perez, and the Mets actually have a potentially top staff on their hands. Offensively, the Mets are led by David Wright and Jose Reyes, the young cornerstones of the club for the next several years. It’s Reyes in particular that affects the Mets more as he is the one that sets the pace. Towards the end of last season, Reyes seemed to be pressing, whether it be trying to hit more long balls or succumbing to the scrutiny of manager Willie Randolph. If Reyes can sustain his first half .387 OBP and not his second half .316 OBP, the Mets should do some major damage offensively, especially with Carlos Beltran and hopefully a rejuvenated Carlos Delgado. Mets fans can only hope.

NL Central - Chicago Cubs

Expect the Cubbies to do it again and take the Central. They return their top three starters - Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Hill - with the addition of Ryan Dempster, former closer, to the starting rotation. So, who’s closing? Remember Kerry Wood, he of one of the nastiest fastballs and dude that struck out 20 batters in a game? Yeah, him. Imagine Wood only having to pitch one inning or so effectively. “Because the ninth belongs to Kerry…” Sorry, had a 90’s relapse. In any case, the offense is pretty good with Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, basestealer galore Ryan Theriot, and potential Rookie of the Year, the slugging catcher Geovany Soto and the O is looking good. The x-factor to how much this offense goes to another level will be Japanese import, Kosuke Fukudome.

NL West - Colorado Rockies

Last season, the Rockies made it all the way to the World Series only to lose to the Boston Red Sox. Still, last season’s run in the postseason was impressive and it wouldn’t be surprising if they did it again. They will be led by N.L. MVP runner-up, Matt Holliday, as well as star-on-the-rise, Troy Tulowitzski. And don’t forget about Garrett Atkins and the underappreciated by the general fan, Brad Hawpe. Actually, speaking of underappreciated, how about the Rockies very solid pitching. Jeff Francis, former Minor League Player of the Year is starting to come into his own, winning 17 games last season. Francis will lead the way with young gunners, Ubaldo Jiménez and Franklin Morales, two pitchers who can really deal. Closer Manny Corpas looks to be the stopper many expect him to be over a full season. So, while young like the Diamondbacks, the Rockies have the experience of getting to the World Series on their side, which adds a lot confidence to a team.

NL Wildcard - Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks traded away highly regarded prospects to the Oakland A’s in order to get pitcher Dan Haren. Good move? You bet. The combination of Brandon Webb and Haren will be as good as any one-two punch out there. Add a healthy (?) Randy Johnson, a promising Micah Owings, and the rotation will be strong. And while the offense is young, there is no doubting their talent. Who wouldn’t want a Chris Young, Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, or Conor Jackson in their lineup? And they all have one year of a successful season and playoff experience under their belts. And just imagine that this group is led by firebrand, Eric Byrnes who had a legit argument going for him to be the N.L. MVP.

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