The current National League standings look nothing like what we had predicted at the begining of the season. Find out who is on top and how the current National Leage Playoff picture is shaping up. Who is in and who is out?
The Philadelphia Phillies were to
be the team to beat again in the National League this season. The Pirates were
to have their 19th straight losing record season. The Mets were to lose at
least 100 games. The Yankees might one of the few teams to be doing what we all
The current MLB standings show the
Pirates in first place in the National league Central. This marks the first
time since 1998 that they are in first place in the division entering the All Star break. The Pirates are led by All Star Andrew McCutchin, who is leading
the majors with a .362 batting average. This marks the first time any Pirate
has led the majors in batting entering the All Star break since 1968 when Matty
Alou did the same batting .344. He is certainly my vote for National league MVP
for the first half of the season.
The National League East
The Phillies limped into the
break losers of 11 of the past 12 games and essentially have no chance of
reaching the playoffs. Based on my simulator projections, the Phillies have a
less than two percent chance of reaching the playoffs and that is with Ryan
Howard, Chase Utley, and Roy Halladay performing well. Too many teams to jump over in order to
contend for the wild card this season. Even so, MLB odds makers still list them at +1000 to win the NL.
What is very intriguing is the
idea that I believe is a very real possibility for Cole Hamels. He stated that
he would love the idea of being traded and then rejoining the Phillies in 2013
as a free agent. His comments seemed very genuine that he is more than willing
to be a rental player with the sole intention on testing the free agency market
and then signing with the only club he has ever known for the next seven years.
The Phillies have the second
highest payroll in baseball, but will be renewing their Comcast Cable deal in
2015 so money will certainly not be a problem for the franchise moving forward.
Washington has control of the
division and even though I think they need to add a another offensive weapon,
they will win the East. Their pitching staff ranks best in MLB in several
categories and I see that as dominating the other teams in the East. The Mets
are starting to come unglued after losing a home series to the Cubs and
although R.A. Dickey is a great story, he cannot win the division by himself.
National League Central
The Pirates are a very real team
that has some veteran leadership guiding this young team to a division title. I
remember thinking that when A. J. Burnett left New York and went to the quieter
and media friendly confines of Pittsburgh, that he would finally reach his full
potential. he has delivered for the Pirates posting a 10-2 record with a 3.68
ERA, 1.30 WHIP, averaging 7.65 strikeouts per nine spanning 15 starts.
James McDonald has done even
better than Burnett. He has posted a 9-3 record with a 2.37 ERA, 0.97 WHIP
spanning 17 starts. Moreover, he has allowed opponents a .196 batting average
so far this season. Neither starter has shown any signs of fatigue, and both are
averaging 100 pitches per start.
The one red flag I see is that
McCutchen is truly carrying the team on his back and leads in team in all major
offensive categories. His 60 RBI represents 18% of the teams’ total and
another player or players will have to step up their offensive production or the
Pirates will have to acquire it by the trading deadline.
With the Reds just a game back,
the Pirates will be pushed hard for the remainder of the season. I believe they
will get the job done and win the NL Central this season.
National League West
The Dodgers are leading the
National league West by ½ game over the San Francisco Giants. A rather
remarkable accomplishment since Matt Kemp has missed a ton of games. The Giants
have made a run at them, but they are still being outscored by opponents despite
being six games over .500. Neither team has power in the lineup and are the two
worst teams ranked by home runs in MLB.
Arizona may have what it takes to
make a push to the top fo this unsettled division. However, the bullpen will
need help by the deadline and I fully expect that the Diamondbacks will make a
move to bolster that area of the team. The Dodgers and Giants are bit hamstrung
to get any significant deals done. The Dodgers, of course, would love to have
Cole Hamels, but not as a rental. Hamels is a Southern California born ‘kid’
so, perhaps there will be another twist in his ongoing story as the trading
deadline approaches. If i had to guess, I think the Dodgers will prevail in
So, in the National League, I
see the Nationals winning the East, the Pirates winning the Central, and the
Dodgers winning the West. The two wild card teams will be the Atlanta Braves