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Last season I had the NL East 1 through 5 correct, but I picked the Braves to be the Wild Card. The NL East is difficult from top to bottom. The Mets will likely be the division’s worst team, but they still have a lot of talent. This season it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen, but here I go.
I don’t expect the Phillies to be as good in 2012, but they were plenty good in 2011. As long as they stay healthy they should be fine. The pitching is still good. The bullpen is still good. Keep an eye on Howard. If he doesn’t come back strong that could cause some headaches for the offense.
Biggest Key: Ryan Howard
Last season the Braves were every person’s “dark horse team” and for most of the season they were right. Teams don’t survive if their No. 1 and No. 2 starters going down for significant time. The Braves won’t have a chance if Jurrjens and Hanson don’t stay healthy. The Untouchables are back in the bullpen, but after Kimbrel, Venters, O’Flaherty, and Medlen the Braves don’t really have any solid options. Most teams would kill for four solid guys so it’s not that big of a deal
It will be a big deal if the team doesn’t hit. The Braves were one of the NL’s worst hitting teams last season. If the Braves pitch as well as they did last season and the team finishes 15th in the NL in hitting they’ll win 95 games without a problem. Will they? I’m not sure. A lot depends on Heyward. If he hits well, it will help everyone out. The Braves will continue to struggle against Left Handed pitching. They have too many lefties in the lineup. The organization has tried to find a solution, but no answer has been found. I think I’m being a little optimistic about the Braves, but I’m a fan.
Biggest Key: Jason Heyward
The Nats are going to be better, but they need a lot of things to go right. There’s no doubt they have an exciting young ball club and they’re moving in the right direction. The question is will this be the year? It could be, but it depends on the pitching and I don’t think it’s there yet. The Nats need Strasburg to stay healthy and the rest of the staff come together. Could it happen? Sure, but I don’t think it will be this season.
Biggest Key: Stephen Strasburg
Everyone loves the Marlins. They have a new manager, a new stadium, and some new players. They have the worst thing ever and horrible new uniforms. The Marlins had a great SS so they went out and got Jose Reyes. They also made some additional picks up for the bullpen and starting rotation. The Marlins should be better in 2012, but how much better are they? They still have an unproven starting rotation. The lineup might produce a lot of runs, but if they don’t get pitching it won’t matter.
The Marlins have a higher ceiling than the Nats. The new stadium and coach may energize the team. Or, it might not matter. We’ll know more by July.
Biggest Key: Josh Johnson
It’s easy to pick on the Mets right now. They have to survive on a payroll this season that’s around the same amount as the Braves. Alas, Babylon! Everyone is picking the Mets last, but I don’t think they’ll be that bad. Getting back a healthy Santana already makes the team better. Yes, they lost Reyes, but his health has been a major issue the last three season. If the rest of the team can stay healthy the Mets can surprise some people.
Biggest Key: Ownership
As far as the rest of the baseball is concerned.
AL: Rangers, Yankees, Tigers, Rays and Angels
NL: Phillies, Cards, Giants, Braves, and Dodgers
World Series: Tigers over the Giants.