Thomas Wayne’s Brave and Boneheaded 2011 Predictions – National League Edition
With my AL picks firmly in place let’s move onto the Senior Circuit and see how much damage we can do.
National League East
- Philadelphia Philles 102-60
- Atlanta Braves 92-70
- Florida Marlins 84-78
- Washington Nationals 78-84
- New York Mets 72-90
That loud, ominous sound you hear bearing down on the rest of the National League is the Philly Phreight Train – a loud unstoppable beast that will consume any meager and mild mannered team that gets in its way.
In other words I like the Phils chances. They be real good.
The rest of the NL East is playing catch up from day one and it won’t be pretty for most of them (except the Braves who will gladly take the NL Wild Card). Sadly, (or courageously) I believe the Nats will be better than the Mets. It may be hard to agree with that, but then again it may be even hard to disagree.
National League Central
- St. Louis Cardinals 91-71
- Milwaukee Brewers 90-72
- Cincinnati Reds 89-73
- Chicago Cubs 82-80
- Houston Astros 77-85
- Pittsburgh Pirates 70-92
That’s right – A healthy Wainwright or no healthy Wainwright – I’m sticking withmy Cardinals. I am doing this for three reasons. One….Dave Duncan….two…Albert Pujols….three…the other teams aren’t as good as advertised (and for those of you saying neither are the Cardinals I say go write your own article and lea me alone to dream the good dream). I think Dave Duncan will pull another rabbit out of his considerably magical hat and give us a year out of Ian Snell or Kyle McClellan or whomever that won’t replace Wainwright and his Cy Young caliber stuff…but it will be good enough to get by. The biggest difference in replacing Waino won’t be his replacement, but a full year of Jake Westbrook who pitched extremely well for the Cardinals last year after coming over from the Tribe. I also think Albert Pujols will carry the team like no other player ever has (more on that later). Finally I’m just not a big believer in the Reds (sure they won the Central last year but that doesn’t qualify them as a dynasty). Take it from a man who watched 155 or so Cardinal games last year: the Reds didn’t win the division, the Cardinals lost it. Regardless of who wins, it will be a very close race between three and maybe four teams.
National League West
- Colorado Rockies 90-72
- San Francisco Giants 86-76
- Los Angeles Dodgers 85-77
- San Diego Padres 76-86
- Arizona Diamondbacks 70-92
Which has the better combo: Giants pitching and meager hitting or Rockies hitting and meager pitching? I like the Rockies meager a little better than the Giants meager. Then again a full year of Buster Posey…hmmmm (forgive me as I menatlly waffle on this situation).
If the Dodgers can get some consistency they could surprise both of the top teams in this prediction.
National League Playoffs
- Phillies vs Rockies
- Cardinals vs Braves
Philly will roll through the Rockies the way they did the East. The Cardinals will slip past a very good Braves team.
- Phillies vs Cardinals
As badly as I want to pick the upset here I can’t (as my old man used to say “I may be dumb but I ain’t stupid) – the Phillies will handle the Cardinals in a very close serious that will end in 6 or 7 games.
National League Rookie of the Year
- Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta K Machine (think I’m kidding – he K’d 40 in 20.2 innings pitched last year) is going to enter the 2011 campaign as the favorite to win the closer’s job for the Bravos. He will win it and have similar closer numbers to last year’s AL ROY Neftali Feliz. Here is what I figure you will see by the end of September from young Kimbrel: 62 IP, 36 Saves, 2.11 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 103 K’s.
National League Manager of the Year
- Tony LaRussa – St. Louis Cardinals
Yeah yeah…I can hear you know – stupid Cardinal fan picking with his heart and not his head. Maybe….or…. maybe I’m-smart-as-a-tack (which in my mind is actually a really stupid thing to say about someone smart. It makes no sense. It’s like cute-as-a-button. What the hell does that even mean? Dumb sayings….)
If LaRussa can manage the Cardinals to my predicted first place finish in the Central without Adam Wainwright and with the burden of not having Albert Pujols under contract (which really isn’t his burden – I gotta spin this into my favor though so a burden it is) he has to be the hands down favorite to win the award. The other contenders for this honor are all supposed to be really good this year. The Cardinals have question marks and that’s to LaRussa’s advantage when award time rolls around.
National League Cy Young Award
- Roy Oswalt – Philadelphia Phillies
I am sorry for all of you who choked on something or spit out a beverage on your computer after reading my Cy Young pick. Shocking yes, but upon further inspection not as bold as you might think. All winter long you heard about the Phearsome Philly rotation. How now that Halladay has Lee and with Cole Hamels they will be unbeatable. Oh yeah, there’s also this guy named Oswalt. Well I am here to preach out of the book of Oswalt (can I get an Amen from the cheap seats??). Did you know that once traded to Philly from Houston last year Oswalt went a stellar 7-1 witha 1.74 ERA and a WHIP of .089 while striking out 73 in 82 IP? He was also the only Philly hurler to pitch worth a damn versus the Giants in the NLCS last year (he was 1-1 with a 1.84 ERA against the eventual champs). I think he will carry that hot streak over into this season and help Halladay and the boys dominate the East. He will beat out the other Roy and the Giants Lincecum by the slightest of margins with number that will look a lot like this: 220 IP, 20-7, 2.34 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 195 K’s.
National League MVP
- Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals
From time to time I like to equate Albert Pujols and his other worldly baseball skills to that of Superman. They both wear red. They both have very few weaknesses (although I admit I’ve never seen anyone expose Albert to a Kryptonite slider) and both never cease to amaze me. Just when you think starting a land side with his heat vision to create a dam of massive rubble to contain a runaway flood from wiping out a small town is the pinnacle of super-human achievement he catches an out-of-control comet and re-directs its trajectory before it hits our planet; saving everyone from mass extinction.
And to clear up any confusion, it was Superman I was talking about with the heat vision and comet catching abilities. Everyone knows Albert doesn’t have heat vision (he would’ve used his super speed to build the dam instead).
For a decade Mr. Pujols has done nothing more than dominate the sport he plays. He is without question the finest hitter in the game today and dare I say deserving of placement in the conversation with the Bambinoand the Splinter as the greatest hitter to ever live.
But for all his greatness and consistency 2011 will be a strange and different year for Albert Pujols. In 2011 he will have to fight a super villain that no one could’ve ever seen coming.
That villain is disrespect.
Cardinal GM John Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt Jr. spent the off season symbolically spitting in Albert Pujols’ face. Instead of taking care of their franchise player for the foreseeable future they treated him as if he was a replaceable bench warmer who deserves a salary but not anywhere near what the market dictates.
This would never happen to Tom Brady. Or Peyton Manning. Lakers fans would storm the Staples Center with torches in hand if Jerry Buss ever treated Kobe Bryant like this.
So why would the Cardinals front office take a chance on losing the best hitter alive by playing disrespectful games with him?
I think the thought of their disrespect is burning deep inside Pujols; fueling him, energizing him.
So my bold prediction is this: with the unbeatable desire to prove his bosses wrong Albert Pujols will lay waste to the NL with one of the greatest seasons in Major League history, winning the Triple Crown (the first in the Senior Circuit since 1937) and topping the 50 homer barrier for the first time in his career and while winning his 4th NL MVP award.
He’ll do all of this to remind the business suits that an astronomical paycheck is one thing – but you can’t put a price on respect.
Albert Pujols will win the Triple Crown this year to prove a valuable point to the Cardinals top brass; you’re a fool if you think you can tug on Superman’s cape without consequences.