Thomas Wayne’s 2012 National League Predictions
We finally got my AL predictions posted the other day – so let’s move on to my lead-pipe locks of choice in the senior circuit.
(Note: These predictions were originally written on April 3rd)
By Thomas Wayne
- Philadelphia Phillies 96-66
- Washington Nationals 90-72
- Atlanta Braves 88-74
- Florida (Yes I know its Miami now – I’m just defiant) Marlins 80-82
- New York Mets 71-91
I really like what Washington has put together this off season. I like their pitching, like their sticks, like the whole kit-and-caboodle. If I had any guts I’d do what I’d really like to do which is call them the NL East Champions. Sadly, I am not that gutsy. Philly still has Halladay, still has Lee and once they get all their sticks healthy they will be right where they want to be – in striking distance of the East title. Conversely, I think the Bravos take a step back as do the new and improved (I say that tongue planted firmly in cheek) Marlins. I’m not convinced the high priced talent in Miami has the right attitude to win (Reyes, Zambrano, and Hanley have never impressed me as players who put team and winning first – all have major attitude and selfishness problems) and even a fiery new manager won’t make the difference. The Mets are still rebuilding but I believe they might be better than everyone thinks.
- St. Louis Cardinals 96-66
- Cincinnati Reds 88-74
- Milwaukee Brewers 80-82
- Pittsburgh Pirates 79-83
- Houston Astros 74-88
- Chicago Cubs 70-92
This is where I get accused of playing favorites – and that may be true, but it’s also no less true that I believe St. Louis will be BETTER in 2012 than they were in their 11th championship season. Better overall hitting (yes Pujols is gone but add Beltran to Berkman along with a full year of a healthy David Freese and an always-improving-offensively Yadi Molina and you have the makings of something special), solid pitching and the vast majority of the returning players have played in multiple post seasons and want to get back again, this makes this veteran laden team hungry for more. Couple this with the fact that I believe the Reds are HIGHLY overrated by far too many of the so called “experts” out there and you have the makings of a run-away and hide kind of season by the Red Birds.
- Arizona Diamondbacks 90-72
- Los Angeles Dodgers 85-77
- San Francisco Giants 79-83
- Colorado Rockies 79-83
- San Diego Padres 76-86
The West, in my humble opinion, is not the best. With the exception of the Padres each of the teams in this division has great individual talent but there are no truly great teams. I’m sure some would greatly disagree with me but if you really break these teams down they each have one or two solid hitters and/or one or two solid pitchers but there are no truly great teams top to bottom. If I had to throw one team out there as “the” team to beat under my assumption that there are no great overall teams I guess it would be Arizona, but the Dodgers have two amazing sticks (Should-have-been-2011-NL-MVP Matt Kemp and healthy-an- ready-to-have-an-MVP-year Andre Ethier) who might carry them all the way to the division title if the one great arm on the team (Cy guy Clayton Kershaw) can repeat his 2011. San Francisco probably has the best arms in the division but most likely the worst sticks. Colorado and San Diego are playing for pride come June.
Manager of the Year – Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals
With Tony LaRussa gone (along with his HOF pedigree, should-be-a-shoe-in-for-the-HOF pitching coach Dave Duncan, and all world first ballot HOF first sacker Albert Pujols) Mike Matheny has huge shoes to fill, but all indications are the four time Gold Glover has the chops and backing of his veteran players to be successful. A good year from Washington might just give Davey Johnson a boost in some voter’s minds but I think this is Matheny’s award to lose.
Comeback Player of the Year – David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals
Some might forget that Freese only played in 97 games last year (363 at bats) because of his history making October performance but facts are facts – if Freese plays in 140 or more games he should come close to an OPS of .850 or higher and hit between 25 and 30 homers and drive in over 85. A comeback player of the year award will look odd sitting next to his NLCS and WS MVP awards but I’m sure he will take it.
Rookie of the Year – Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds
The young Red’s shortstop looks like he’s going to get a shot at playing every day, all year long. I think he’ll hit a solid .280 with 15 homers and 25 steals and possibly 100 runs scored. Diamondbacks outfielder AJ Pollock and Padres first sacker Yonder Alonso could make a push if they get day in and day out at bats.
Cy Young Award – Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
Yes, I know that supposedly they are going to shut him down once he hits the 150 innings mark regardless of whether or not they are in playoff contention. And since I believe they will be in playoff contention largely in part to Strasburg pitching more than 150 innings (funny how that works out huh?) I like the young man’s chances at winning his first Cy Young award. I see him pitching between 180 and 200 innings with a WHIP around 1.10 and an ERA around 2.70 to go with a 16 to 18 win season. The kicker will be the 215 strikeouts he will have in those 180 to 200 innings pitched. Mark it down – the Nats are in playoff contention on September 1st and Strasburg pitches masterfully down the stretch making him the favorite for the Cy Young.
MVP – Ande Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers
Yep, I like a Dodger to win the MVP and it’s not Matt Kemp. Ethier is in a contract year and has shown before that when healthy he’s as good a stick as anybody. If he gets hurt again all bets are off – but if healthy and 550 at bats or more come his way I look for A.E. to bat .315 with 35 homers, 115 batted in, 90 runs scored and 40 plus doubles and an OPS over .900. Most importantly he will produce when the entire league starts pitching around arguably the games most talented player in Matt Kemp.
If Ethier falters who do I like? Well….
If you want a real sleeper for MVP and are willing to go out on a limb (hell, more like the tip of the last leaf about to fall off a broken twig) try this one on for size – Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina. Yadi is the game’s best individual defensive player at his position and has constantly improved his offense from year to year since entering the league. This is the year he breaks out and for a team a lot of so called experts think will struggle without Albert Pujols. Yadi will bat .315 this year with a career high in all categories (I’m predicting 21 homers, 82 RBI, 80 Runs and 30 doubles). In the past team-leader type studs like Barry Larkin, Kirk Gibson, and Dustin Pedroia have all won MVP awards with solid to great numbers even though other players had much better individual numbers throughout the league. With that in mind I like Yadi for a top five finish in this year’s balloting. Mock or praise me on this one in November.