I’ve been posting 2012 MLB Previews for each division throughout the past two weeks. In case you missed it, you can read my AL East Preview, AL Central Preview, and AL West preview by clicking on the links provided.
It’s time to move onto the National League. First up, is the NL East.
I’ve also included 2012 Predicted statistics from the 2012 Major League Baseball Yearbook and Fantasy Guide.
1ST Place: Philadelphia Phillies (My prediction: 95-67)
This Philadelphia Phillies were the top team in 2011, winning 102 games, before losing in the first round of the playoffs. Over the past five years, the Phillies have only improved during the regular season, winning 89 games in 2007, then 92, 93, 97, and 102. However, I am predicting that they regress a little bit in 2012, thanks to a strengthened National League Eastern Division.
The Phillies have one of the best rotations in the game, despite losing Roy Oswalt.
Anchored by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels – the Phillies shouldn’t experience and losing streaks longer than three games.
The Phillies also added Jonathan Papelbon in the offseason to close games out. Papelbon is one of the top relievers in the game, despite his 2011 finale against the Orioles, where he blew the game and the season for the Red Sox.
The Phillies have a decent offense. Ryan Howard is coming off of an injury, and had a bit of an offseason in 2011, hitting just .253 with 33 home runs.
Chase Utley has been in decline the past three years, each year worst than the last. To be fair, he has been riddled with injuries over the past two seasons. He hit just .259 with 11 homers last season.
I’m not thrilled with Placido Polonco as the Phillies third baseman. Third base is a power position, and Polonco is a contact hitter. He hit .277 with 5 HR and 50 RBI last year, along with a .335 on base percentage.
However, the Phillies brought in Ty Wigginton to be a super utility type player, and he could unseat Polonco as the regular starter at third.
Phillies fans have to be upbeat about their outfield. They have John Mayberry in left field, or possibly Laynce Nix… Shane Victorino in centerfield and Hunter Pence in right field.
For me, I’m most intrigued with Jim Thome signing with the Phillies. Thome hasn’t played the field much in recent years, but I’m hoping that he gets some time at first base, and isn’t just a pinch-hit only type guy like Matt Stairs was the final few years of his career.
Here’s their 2012 statistical projections.
C Carlos Ruiz .289-6-43
1B Ryan Howard .259-29-98
1B Jim Thome .266-14-43
2B Chase Utley .279-20-74
3B Placido Polanco .284-6-52
3B Ty Wigginton .258-10-34
SS Jimmy Rollins .279-19-74
LF John Mayberry .261-24-77
CF Shane Victorino .272-18-67
RF Hunter Pence .302-23-91
SP Roy Halladay 19-8, 2.42 ERA, 234 IP, 212 K
SP Cliff Lee 19-8, 2.89 ERA, 221 IP, 210 K
SP Cole Hamels 14-10, 3.11 ERA, 191 K
SP Vance Worley 12-8, 3.90 ERA, 135 K
SP Joe Blanton 5-4, 4.66 ERA, 100 IP, 81 K
RP Jonathan Papelbon 3.34 ERA, 30 saves, 65 IP, 80 K
RP Antonio Bastadro 3.43 ERA, 3 saves, 60 IP, 74 K
2nd place: Atlanta Braves (My prediction 87-75)
The Atlanta Braves are going to battle it out with the Marlins and Nationals all season long for a wild card spot. For me, the Braves starting rotation gives them a slight edge.
Tim Hudson is 36 years old, but figures to be the ace of the staff, after posting a 16-10 record with a 3.22 ERA in 2011.
The Braves also welcome back Jair Jurrjens in 2011, despite trying to trade him and Martin Prado for most of the offseason. Jurrjens had a 2.96 ERA last season.
Tommy Hanson began spring training a bit banged up after being in an accident, but his concussion like symptoms should be cleared up by opening day. Hanson struggled at times in 2011, posting a 3.60 ERA.
Brandon Beachy led the Braves last year with 169 strikeouts, and continues the trend of top to bottom rotational depth on the Braves.
For their fifth starter, the Braves will choose either Julio Teheran or Mike Minor. With a rotation like they have lined up, its hard not to choose them as second in the division, no matter how much I don’t like them.
Offensively, the Braves have some stars with Brian McCann behind the plate (24 HR in ’11)
and Dan Uggla (36 HR) at second. Uggla couldn’t hit his weight for much of the season before going on an impressive 33 game hitting streak to salvage his season.
The Braves also have some questions marks. Will Chipper Jones be able to play regularly at a high level? He’s 40 years old now, and hasn’t been able to stay in the lineup regularly for two years now.
Will Jason Heyward’s reconstructed swing hasten him back to the days of 2010 when he was a star rookie? Or will he struggle again like he did in 2011? (.227/14/14)
Will Matt Diaz defy all odds and actually hit a home run?
How will Tyler Pastornicky do? He could be the team’s opening day shortstop.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Brian McCann .263-22-70
1B Freddie Freeman .296-22-83
2B Dan Uggla .253-36-90
3B Chipper Jones .268-18-67
SS Tyler Pastornicky .256-4-29
LF Martin Prado .271-15-67
CF Michael Bourne .290-2-51
RF Jason Heyward .255-19-66
SP Tim Hudson 17-10, 3.05 ERA, 224 IP, 155 K
SP Jair Jurrjens 15-10, 3.57 ERA, 209 IP, 137 K
SP Tommy Hanson 15-8, 3.82 ERA, 177 IP, 171 K
SP Brandon Beachy 11-8, 3.78 ERA, 179 IP, 187 K
SP Julio Teheran 9-6, 4.01 ERA, 126 IP, 70 K
RP Craig Kimbrel 1.81 ERA, 35 saves, 70 IP, 118 K
RP Jonny Venters 2.35 ERA, 3 saves, 84 IP, 88 K
3rd place: Miami Marlins (My prediction 85-77)
The Marlins went on a spending spree this winter as they move into a new stadium this year. Despite losing out on the Albert Pujols sweepstakes, they did manage to sign impact free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell. It’s full steam ahead for the Marlins in 2012.
The Marlins offense looks to be quite good. They’ve got John Buck, who has power, but struggles to hit for average behind the plate. He only hit .227 last year.
Gaby Sanchez is a solid first baseman offensively – he hit 19 homers last year. He’s no Albert Pujols, but he’s respectable. At least he throws a mean clothesline. Ask Nyjer Morgan.
Omar Infante and Emilio Bonifacio could share time at second base in 2012. Bonifacio could also spend time in the outfield, displacing Chris Coghlan.
Hanley Ramirez will garner some attention as he moves from shortstop to third base. Ramirez appeared to be upset with the move at first, which was necessitated when the Marlins traded for Reyes. However, he seems to be warming up to the idea of playing third, and hopefully his bat warms too, because he was bad last year. The former All Star only hit .243 with 10 homers.
Jose Reyes was the batting champ last year, and probably the third best free agent behind Pujols and Prince Fielder in 2012. He brings speed and excitement to the Marlins.
The outfield looks solid at the corners with Mike Stanton on track to have another monster year. He launched 34 home runs in 2011, and figures to hit even more as he continues to age and progress as a player. He’s only 22 years old after all.
Logan Morrison, known more for his antics off the field with his zany twitter alter-ego LoMo, hopes to make a name for himself on it as well this year. He did well in 2011, hitting 23 home runs, but saw his average dip to .247.
In center field, Emilio Bonifacion will play, or possibly Chris Coghlan. Coghlan was injured much of 2011, hitting only .230. Some would say it’s karma after this incident involving fellow ballhawker the Happy Youngster. Coghlan went on to win the rookie of the year, while the Happy Youngster got a bad rep and faded away from the ballhawking scene. Maybe the Youngster makes a comeback in ’12?
As far as their rotation is concerned, the Marlins look like they’ll be decent, but not great.
Josh Johnson is returning from an injury, but has the talent to be a front line starter. He had a 1.64 ERA in 9 starts before being injured last season.
Mark Buehrle is a proven veteran that is a solid #2 starter.
Behind those two, the Marlins have Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez. Nothing spectacular, but acceptable as starters.
Interestingly, the Marlins traded for Carlos Zambrano. After a rocky career in Chicago, things have been quiet so far on the Zambrano front.
At the back of the bullpen, they’ve got Heath Bell to close things out. Bell had 43 saves for a poor Padres team in 2011, so he could do even better in 2012.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C John Buck .241-17-66
1B Gaby Sanchez .262-18-76
2B Omar Infante .290-10-59
3B Hanley Ramirez .291-22-91
SS Jose Reyes .318-10-52
LF Logan Morrison .250-24-80
CF Emilio Bonifacio .292-4-31
RF Mike Stanton .265-38-97
SP Josh Johnson 14-6, 2.54 ERA, 226 IP, 216 K
SP Mark Buehrle 13-10, 3.89 ERA, 204 IP, 103 K
SP Ricky Nolasco 13-12, 4.60 ERA, 205 IP, 168 K
SP Anibal Sanchez 9-10, 3.64 ERA, 180 IP, 169 K
SP Carlos Zambrano 11-10, 4.52 ERA, 163 IP, 120 K
RP Heath Bell 2.64 ERA, 41 saves, 65 IP, 65 K
RP Juan Oviedo 4.00 ERA, 4 saves, 63 IP, 59 K
4th place: Washington Nationals (My prediction: 84-78)
The Nationals are an improved team over last year, they added Edwin Jackson and are getting Stephen Strasburg back from an injury that cost him most of 2011.
The Nationals were unlucky and lost out on the Prince Fielder sweepstakes to Detroit and are stuck with Adam LaRoche as their first baseman. LaRoche should not get Nationals fans excited. Based on his track record, he will be abysmal until the All Star break and then recover to finish with a slightly above average line. I’ve seen it in Pittsburgh. Us Pirates fans were expecting 40 HR and 100 RBI with the short right field fence, but it never came close to happening with LaRoche. If LaRoche really bombs in his rebound year from injury, the Nats could put Mike Morse at first base and open up a spot in the outfield for Bryce Harper.
Wilson Ramos, acquired from the Nationals for ex-Pirates reliever Matt Capps survived a harrowing ordeal during the offseason when he was kidnapped at gunpoint and held captive. Thankfully, he was rescued without injury and looks to follow up a 15 HR, .445 slugging season with another decent offensive showing.
The Nationals have a power source at second base in Danny Espinosa. He slugged 21 homers last year despite hitting just .236.
Ryan Zimmerman just signed a $100 million dollar contract to keep him in a Nationals uniform til 2020. That’s a serious commitment to what many in the Nationals brass consider the face of the franchise. Zimmerman was injured for part of 2011, and hit only 12 homers – but if healthy, he’s capable of putting up 25-30 HR on the board while playing excellent defense. He’ll want to prove to everyone that he’s worth the $100 million. Although one baseball writer tweeted, “$100 million is an awful lot for a one time all-star.”
In the outfield, the Nationals are set with Michael Morse, Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth. Werth was terrible in 2011. He may have hit 20 homers, but Nationals fans expected more power, and certainly better than a .232 batting average and .389 slugging percentage. Werth was one of the best players in the league before signing with the Nationals. His statistics took a nosedive once he joined the team. He is one of several reasons why the Nationals could be the surprise team in 2012. Can he return to the Werth that roamed the outfield for the Phillies?
Michael Morse is probably my favorite Nationals player. If you get the chance to go to a Nationals game, simply stand in left center field and get ready to be bombarded with home run balls. The guy is a monster. He reminds me a lot of Mike Stanton in terms of body structure and pure power. After hitting .303/31/95 in 2011, he could be a candidate to hit 40 homers.
A major question in the Nationals outfield leading into 2012 is if Bryce Harper will be the starting right fielder in 2012. Manager Davey Johnson said the 19 year old has a chance. If he makes the team, expect the same level of hype to follow Harper around that Stephen Strasburg had back in 2010.
In terms of the rotation, its much improved after the signing of Edwin Jackson to an 11 million dollar one year contract. Personally, I don’t think much of Jackson after he spurned the Pirates 3 year $30 million offer to accept less money with the Nationals. He’s an excellent #2 pitcher though.
The ace of the Nationals is Stephen Strasburg and he may be babied again in 2012 as the Nats seem terrified of him getting injured again. If Strasburg weren’t on strict pitch counts, his strike out numbers could be ridiculous. However, he still has amazing stuff and should baffle hitters all season long. He’s a special player. I’ll never forget attending his major league debut against the Pirates in Washington DC in June of 2010.
The Nationals’ third starter is Gio Gonzalez, the ex-ace of the Oakland Athletics. He posted a 16-12 record with a 3.12 ERA in the American League last year. Reason states that his ERA should drop a little since he doesn’t have to face the DH in the National League anymore.
The Nationals rest of the rotation is average. At the back end they’ve got Drew Storen to close out games, or possibly new addition Brad Lidge.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Wilson Ramos .269-16-55
1B Adam LaRoche .243-14-56
2B Danny Espinosa .258-23-72
3B Ryan Zimmerman .296-24-81
SS Ian Desmond .261-8-51
LF Michael Morse .300-30-90
CF Roger Bernadina .238-7-30
RF Jayson Werth .245-20-64
SP Stephen Strasburg 13-6, 2.40 ERA, 139 IP, 151 K
SP Gio Gonzalez 16-11, 3.25 ERA, 211 IP, 208 K
SP Jordan Zimmerman 10-19, 4.33 ERA, 141 IP, 102 K
SP Edwin Jackson 13-9, 3.95 ERA, 203 IP, 156 K
SP John Lannan 12-11, 4.01 ERA, 191 IP, 117 K
SP Chien Ming Wang 9-7, 3.83 ERA, 125 IP, 47
RP Drew Storen 3.01 ERA, 38 saves, 81 IP, 81 K
RP Tyler Clippard 2.34 ERA, 0 saves, 85 IP, 100 K
5th place: New York Mets (My prediction 62-100)
The Mets are going to be bad in 2012. They are slashing payroll left and right, and might deal David Wright at the trade deadline this year.
Am I wrong Mets fans? I think they’ll lose 100 games. The division is tough, and they are worse than last year.
David Wright is the long bright spot, but there’s really no one to protect him in the order.
Ike Davis has some pop, but will be be consistent throughout the season?
Then there’s Jason Bay, one of the biggest free agent busts since Barry Zito. After signing a $66 million contract, Bay has done next to nothing. Maybe moving the fences in at Citi Field will help him some.
Andres Torres, a 4th or 5th outfielder on just about every other team, will be the starting center fielder.
Ruben Tejada is no Jose Reyes at shortstop. He has no power, but can hit for an acceptable average near .300.
The rotation pales in comparison to the other four teams in the division. Johan Santana will finally be back after missing an eternity due to injury. If he’s half the pitcher he used to be, he’ll still be the best pitcher on the Mets.
It’s going to be a long year. At least watching RA Dickeys facial expressions and knuckleball should be fun.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Josh Thole .273-4-46
1B Ike Davis .260-20-73
2B Daniel Murphy .318-8-66
3B David Wright .269-20-87
SS Ruben Tejada .288-0-60
LF Jason Bay .252-16-76
CF Andres Torres .237-6-27
RF Lucas Duda .301-13-61
SP Johan Santana 12-7, 2.84 ERA, 162 IP, 142 K
SP Mike Pelfrey 11-11, 4.39 ERA, 193 IP, 106 K
SP Jonathon Niese 10-11, 4.43 ERA, 167 IP, 146 K
SP Dillon Gee 12-10, 4.79 ERA, 179 IP, 134 K
SP RA Dickey 9-12, 3.13 ERA, 201 IP, 125 K
RP Frank Francisco 3.33 ERA, 28 saves, 51 IP, 55 K
RP Jon Rauch 4.05 ERA, 5 saves, 53 IP, 39 K
So, to review, I have:
I think the Braves, Marlins, and Nationals could be pretty much interchangeable though, as they are all similar in talent level.
What are your thoughts?
Leave a comment!
There’s only 37 days until opening day, and 4 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). Also, the first listed Spring Training game on the MLB schedule is tomorrow when the Phillies take on the Seminoles. Also, just five more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.