The 2013 Major League Season begins on March 31 with most teams playing their first games on April 1.
As Spring Training games begin, here are my National League division race predictions for 2013 with a very brief commentary of why I predict a team’s finish.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
1. Los Angeles Dodgers – Magic Johnson and company spent big bucks for Zach Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and more to compliment Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. They also have a very good lineup in Kemp, Gonzalez, Ramirez, Ethier, and company.
2. San Francisco Giants – Nearly the exact same championship roster will compete again for another division title and more. Tim Lincecum’s rough season is behind him, and Matt Cain is still one of the best.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks – Good team with a lot of punch, but their pitching does not match the Dodgers’ or Giants’ pitching. Don’t take them lightly, however.
4. San Diego Padres – Very little activity to improve a sub.500 team from 2012.
5. Colorado Rockies – The Rockies had the worst home record in the N.L. in 2012 (35-46). If they cannot out-slug the opposition at Coors Field, then they have no chance on the road, where they were 29-52 last year.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
1. Cincinnati Reds – Most powerful lineup in the division in a very hitter-friendly park. Will easily out-slug opponents.
2. St. Louis Cardinals – Lost Carpenter and Lohse but will score a lot of runs. The Cardinals simply find ways to win. They learned it under Larussa and continued it under Matheny.
3. Chicago Cubs – The Cubs made some good acquisitions, especially in the rotation and bullpen. They will surprise us, score more runs, and continue to improve toward contention next year.
4. Milwaukee Brewers – The loss of Corey Hart and Mat Gamel will hurt the Brewers offensively, leaving little protection for Ramirez and Braun. Pitching will not be as strong as in recent years. Hart’s May or June return may help at that time.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates – They have done very little to improve. Russell Martin is a nice pickup but not enough to go with Andrew McCutchen and Garret Jones.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
1. Washington Nationals – Best starting rotation (Strasburg, Gonzalez, Haren, Zimmerman) in the Majors and three legitimate closers. Offense will score just enough runs for the pitching to shut the door.
2. Philadelphia Phillies – Rotation full of aces (Halliday, Lee, Hamels) and Papelbon closing. Utley, Howard, Rollins are healthy, and Michael Young will add even more punch. Outfield could be a slight problem area.
3. Atlanta Braves – Great pitching and outfield. The Braves will make it a very tight race for second place.
4. New York Mets – With little exception (David Wright), this lineup just does not intimidate opposing pitchers. They did, though, play better than expected last year.
5. Miami Marlins – Last place with big-name, big-contract players last year and then traded them all away and got very little in return.
I cannot wait for the season to begin! Play Ball!
Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. His favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. Follow Raymond on Twitter@RayBureau
Filed Under: Major League Baseball