The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Archive for the tag “Washington Nationals”

National League Predictions For 2015

There is but one potentially great team in the National League, the Washington Nationals.  They are the only team in the Majors that I could imagine winning as many as 100 games in 2015. There are about another half-dozen N.L. teams I can see making the playoffs, depending on the breaks they receive.  The weakest division in the N.L., even with the inclusion of those Nats, is the N.L. East.  Like wages in right-to-work states, it is essentially a race to the bottom in that division.

N.L. East

1888 Washington Nationals team photo

1888 Washington Nationals team photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1)  Nationals – It’s a pretty ridiculous pitching staff when Doug Fister is your 4th starter.  Prediction:  98 wins.

2)  Mets – Young and ready to rise above .500, and Matt Harvey adds swagger.  If everything breaks right, a potential Wild Card contender.  Prediction:  83 wins.

3)  Marlins – In some ways, not really all that different from the Mets.  The return to form of Jose Fernandez is key.  Prediction: 81 wins.

4)  Braves – May not finish in last place only because the Phillies are still allegedly a Major League baseball team.  Prediction:  74 wins.

5)  Phillies – May not finish in last place only because the Braves might be even worse than expected.  Prediction:  69 wins.

N.L. Central

1) Cardinals – Does this team ever have a really bad season?  Not this year.  Should rather easily win the Central Division.  Prediction:  90 wins

2) Pirates – An outfield of McCutchen, Polanco, and Marte is one to salivate over.  Should take a Wild Card slot, even with some pitching issues.  Prediction:  85 wins.

3)  Cubs – Lots of people pick the Cubs to grab a Wild Card slot this year.  Could happen, but I’m betting their chances are better in 2016.  Prediction:  83 wins.

4)  Brewers –  Really didn’t do much to improve their team in the off-season.  Lost their de facto ace, Gallardo.  Should be consistently mediocre.  Prediction:  79 wins.

5)  Reds –  A franchise that appears to be moving in the wrong direction.  Will Joey Votto and Jay Bruce return to form?  Prediction:  73 wins.

N.L. West

1)  Dodgers – Look very strong on paper.  Would be hard-pressed not to at least make the playoffs, even if they somehow don’t win this division outright.  Prediction:  93 wins.

2)  Padres – Lots of upgrades in the off-season, but still not a shoo-in for a Wild Card slot, though I think they’ll grab one.  Prediction:  85 wins.

3)  Giants – The Giants are consistently the most difficult team for me to pick correctly.  Bumgarner is a monster, but tossed a huge number of innings last season.  Prediction:  83 wins.

4)  Rockies – Car-Go and Tu-Lo, Corey Dickerson, Blackmon and Arenado provide a solid core of offense.  If the pitching improves at all, this could be the surprise team of the N.L.  Prediction:  80 wins.

5)  Diamondbacks – Hard to envision this team not finishing in last place.  May even be the worst team in the entire Majors this year.  Prediction:  65 wins.

World Series prediction:  Nationals over the Red Sox in seven games.

 

 

Major League Teams – Best to Worst, By Run Differential

One way to list the 30 MLB teams from best to worst is by using run differential, that is, the difference between how many runs a team has scored minus the number of runs they’ve surrendered.  Although it’s still very early in the year, you will notice some real surprises on this list.

1)  Boston Red Sox   +34

2)  Atlanta Braves    +33

2)  Cincinnati Reds    +33

4)  Texas Rangers     +29

5)  Colorado Rockies  +28

6)  St. Louis Cardinals +23

7)  New York Mets      +18

8)  Oakland A’s            +17

9)  Arizona Diamondbacks   +15

10) Baltimore Orioles   +11

10) Kansas City Royals  +11

10) New York Yankees  +11

13) San Francisco Giants +8

14) Detroit Tigers             +6

15) Pittsburgh Pirates      +1

16) Tampa Bay Rays       -3

17) Milwaukee Brewers  -5

18) Cleveland Indians     -6

19) Chicago White Sox    -7

20) Minnesota Twins     -7

21) L. A. Angels              -10

22) Washington Nationals -15

23) Philadelphia Phillies   -17

24) Chicago Cubs             -18

24) L. A. Dodgers            -18

26) San Diego Padres      -28

27) Seattle Mariners      -29

28) Toronto Blue Jays    -29

29) Houston Astros          -40

30) Miami Marlins            -46

Starting at the top, certainly the Red Sox, Rockies, Mets and, to a certain extent, the Diamondbacks have to be counted as pleasant surprises.  Though many people had the Braves picked to at least win the Wild Card in their division, they have been playing perhaps even better than expected.  The A’s are the little engine that can, and does, always find a way to win.  Notice, too, that the expected collapse of either the Yankees and / or the Orioles hasn’t occurred to this point.  And the Rangers don’t appear to miss Josh Hamilton very much yet, either.

On the negative side of the ledger, Don Mattingly’s days as Dodgers’ manager may be short-lived if he can’t turn his team around before the All-Star break.  Like the Dodgers, the Blue Jays have gone all in this year, but have realized the same lack of success.  The Astros and the Marlins were both expected to be terrible, and they are working hard to deliver on that promise.

What’s with the Angels?  Although Pujols is playing well, they are seriously under-performing to date.

The Washington Nationals slow start, however, must rate as the most stunning in all of baseball to this point.  Many people picked them to win the N.L. pennant this year, but (with the exception of Bryce Harper) they are playing like a team that is trying not to lose, rather than as a confident team playing good baseball.  I think they will turn it around.

Another team that I think will play much better as the season progresses is the Tampa Bay Rays.  Currently, they are a mediocre 16th overall, but I have little doubt they will finish the season among the top half-dozen teams in baseball.

As a Mets fan, I would like the see the Mets finish among the top seven teams at the end of the season, but, barring some peculiarly astute, timely trade,  I see little chance of that happening.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see the Pirates finish at or above .500 this year?  I think they are capable of doing so.

Which teams do you think will improve, or implode, over the course of the rest of the season?

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