As the 2011 MLB season is a little more than halfway
completed, some teams have lived up to expectations while other teams have
exceeded expectations. The NL East is a great example of this.
The Philadelphia Phillies are the class of the National
League East and the favorites in the baseball lines to win the World Series. The Phillies are
currently -500 to win the NL East, 11/10 to win the NL Pennant and 11/4 to win
the World Series. The Phillies are gunning for their 2nd world championship in
3 years. Currently, the Phillies hold a 3.5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves
in the NL East and have the best record in baseball at 57-34.
Mostly responsible for the Phillies success is their
pitching staff. They sport 4 of the best pitchers in baseball. 3 out
of the 4 pitchers are having great seasons while Roy Oswalt is currently
injured and hasn't performed up to his normal standards. Oswalt is 4-6 with a
3.79 ERA. Opposing batters have hit .276 off of Oswalt. Luckily for the
Phillies, Cole Hamels has picked up the slack. Hamels leads the team with a
2.32 ERA and a 11-4 record. Opposing batters are hitting just .207 off of
Hamels. He's having a career year.
The Phillies then have the pitchers that they expected
excellence from, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. They've had occasional lapses
but have pitched great baseball overall. Halladay, whom many consider to be the
best pitcher in baseball, has a 11-3 record with a 2.45 ERA and 6 complete
games. Lee has a 9-6 mark with a 2.82 ERA,4 shutouts, and is only allowing the
opposition to hit .228 off of him. The Phillies starters define them. This team
will make it to the World Series through their pitching.
On the offensive side, the "Fightin Phils" have
counted on Ryan Howard (18 HR, 72 RBI, .257 BA) and Raul Ibanez (12 HR, 47 RBI,
.241 BA) for power, while aside from the power players, Shane Victorino (9 HR, 34 RBI, .303,
13 SB) has been their most productive player. Look for Chase Utley to make a
strong 2nd half surge. He's been a grinder ever since he's been a Philly and I
expect Utley to start producing shortly.
Overall, this will be a tough team to overtake in the
division, even though the Braves are within reach, the Phillies have more than
the division on their minds.
As predicted by SBR writer Chance Harper, the Braves and the
Phillies have been the two best teams in the division. The Braves are hot on
the Phillies heels and it's due to the pitching and the play of catcher Brian
McCann. McCann leads the Braves in HR (15), RBI (50), and BA. (.310). Young
budding star Jason Heyward, has had a very poor start to the 1st half and look
for Heyward to improve during crunchtime. Future hall of famer Chipper isn't
the same player that he was but is still able to provide the Braves with
leadership off the field and some production on the field. Jones has 46 RBI,
which is good for 2nd on the team to McCann.
The pitching has been a major positive for the Braves.
Regardless of the personnel throughout the last decade, this team seems to find
a way to keep winning. One major reason for their success is the pitching of
Jair Jurrjens. Jurrjens is 12-3 with an eye popping 1.87 ERA. Jurrjens isn't
someone that will strike everyone out but he keeps runners off the basepath,
allowing just a .229 BA from opposing hitters. Another top flight pitcher on
the Braves staff is Tommy Hanson. Hanson has always been a reliable pitcher for
Atlanta, he just needed the run support. So far this season, Hanson is 10-4
with a 2.44 ERA and opposing batters are hitting a mere .190 off of him. It's
almost like an automatic out facing Hanson. The Braves also rely on veteran Tim
This team will be a tough team that the Phillies and the
rest of the league should worry about because they have good pitching and all's
they do is win.
Atlanta is at +300 in the betting odds to win the division and 14/1 to win the
New York Mets
One of the surprising teams in the division are the
New York Mets. With injuries to Johann Santana, David Wright, and Ike Davis,
not much was expected out of the Metropolitans. They also play at Citi Field
which is a tough place for their hitters to showcase their power. The two main
reasons for the Mets success has been the play of Jose Reyes and Carlos
Beltran. Reyes has had an MVP caliber season. He has 3 HR , 32 RBI, .354 BA,
and 30 SB. His enthusiasm and approach to the ball when he steps up to the
plate have been second to none. Reyes also has 15 triples on the season. As
long as he continues the great play the Mets will continue to be a .500 team
or better. Carlos Beltran has been the source of power on the team. Beltran has
been steady, hitting 13 HR, 58 RBI, and .285. Beltran has come up with some
timely hits for NY. A big surprise has been the play of Daniel Murphy. If he
can continue his plus .300 hitting, the Mets will benefit greatly. Slugger
Jason Bay has had an awful 1st half of the season but has started to hit
towards the all-star break. Keep an eye out for Bay as he tries to salvage the season
with at least 20 home runs.
Pitching has been one of the Mets strong points but they're
quite capable of putting up a goose egg on the opponents side. R.A. Dickey had
a great season last season and has started to pitch like the R.A. of old. Look
for this knuckleballer to pitch well down the stretch. Dillon Gee got off to a
fantastic start for NY. Gee has tailed off lately but is capable of pitching
well at any time. These are two pitchers that any team would like to have. The
Mets should have a nice second half. Not much was expected and they'll easily
go over the over-under total that was provided at the beginning of
The Mets are 125/1 for all of you MLB bettors that like to take
a risk. Anything can happen.
Another team that will exceed their expected win total
(72.5) is the Nationals. The Nats are already at the .500 mark at the break.
They're led by players that aren't household names but get the job done.
Michael Morse (15 HR, 49 RBI, .306), Danny Espinosa (16 HR, 52 RBI, .242), and
Laynce Nix (12 HR, 33 RBI, .274) have taken this team to its current position. You
expected to see overpaid acquisition Jayson Werth on this list but he's been a
disappointment to say the least. Werth is hitting just .215 with 10 HR and 31
RBI. That's not what the Nats signed up for when they paid him.
Jordan Zimmerman has been the ace of this staff, with a
sub.500 record. He just hasn't received the run support. Zimmerman has a 6-7
record and a brilliant 2.66 ERA. The Nats bats need to step up for Zimmerman.
The Nationals are solid in the bullpen with Drew Storen. Storen has blown 3
saves but has a 5-2 record with 23 saves and opposing batters are batting just
.193 off of him.
This is an up and coming team that just needs more pieces
and like I said before, those of you who have the over on their amount of wins,
congratulations. The Nationals should shatter that total.
If anyone has a lottery-like mentality, the Nationals are
currently 200/1 at Bodog.
Surprisingly, we find the Florida Marlins in the basement of
the NL East with a 43-48 record. The combination of Hanley Ramirez and Dan
Uggla had worked out like a charm for the Marlins but things have changed. Uggla has been a disaster for Atlanta and Ramirez has been
barely average, if that. On the season, this supposed superstar is hitting 8 HR,
37 RBI,.242 BA, and 15 SB. Hanley can run but he need's to get on base. Luckily
for the Marlins, Gaby Sanchez (13 HR, 50 RBI, .293) and Mike Stanton (18 HR, 51
RBI, .255 BA) have picked up the slack.
On the pitching side, the Marlins haven't had an ace. No
pitcher has more than 6 wins on the season. Chris Volstad is a disaster but
Anibal Sanchez (6-2, 3.58) and Ricky Nolasco (6-5, 3.70) are slightly above
average major league pitchers. The bullpen is solid but the Marlins
need to get to the closer at times. Leo Nunez has 25 saves on the season and
he's more than done his job.
Overall, the Marlins have been a disappointment. They don't
have a high payroll or very supporting fans but this team should be better,
especially Hanley Ramirez.
At 200/1 MLB odds, I tell you to keep your money in
your pocket and save it for a better option or a rainy day.
There you have it. The National League Eastern Division has
brought some surprises and is a very competitive division with all competitive teams.
It will be interesting to see if the Phillies can hold off the relentless
Braves and to see where the Mets go from here.