Baseball: Spring Preview

Written by Ezra Troy on . Posted in Sports

Number denotes team’s rank at that position group within the division.

National League East

In a division that only had two teams with winning percentages over .500 last year, this division promises to be top heavy again, with a clear split between the two best teams (Nationals and Mets) and the bottom three teams (Braves, Marlins, and Phillies).

 

1.) Washington Nationals: Starters — 2,
Bullpen — 3, Lineup — 1

The Nationals have won the division two of the past three years and looked poised to win again, despite some questionable offseason moves (trading their future for Adam Eaton). The Nationals have a very good lineup led by Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, and Daniel Murphy. Their rotation is also incredible, with one of the best 1-2 punches in the league, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg. The bullpen has some solid players, but no stars.

2.) New York Mets: Starters — 1, Bullpen — 2, Lineup — 2

The Mets have arguably the best rotation in baseball, led by rising stars Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. Their lineup is very good too, with all-stars Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce, with many other solid players. Their bullpen is led by star closer Jeurys Familia, but has no other good players. The Mets should be able to easily take a wild card spot for the second straight year.

3.) Atlanta Braves: Starters — 3, Bullpen — 4, Lineup — 4

The Braves seem poised to make a run in 2019, but they may be able to do some good things this year. With the trade for Brandon Phillips, they now have an infield with Phillips, all-star first baseman Freddie Freeman and rising stars Dansby Swanson and Adonis Garcia. Their outfield consists of Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, and Matt Kemp, who are all solid players. Their staff is led by Julio Teheran and also has solid pitcher Jaime Garcia.

4.) Miami Marlins: Starters — 4, Bullpen — 1, Lineup — 3

The Marlins have a powerful lineup led by GIancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon. Their staff is unfortunately diminished and without an ace due to the unfortunate death of Jose Fernandez, but it still has some ok pitchers such as Wei Yin Chen and Tom Koehler. Their bullpen has some fine pitchers such as David Phelps and Junichi Tawanza, as well as closer AJ Ramos, but no stars.

5.) Philadelphia Phillies: Starters — 5, Bullpen — 5, Lineup — 5

The Phillies have finished last in the division two of the past three years and seem poised to do so again. The Phillies are a team built for 2020.

National League Central

Home of the Major League Baseball (MLB) champs, the Chicago Cubs, the division also has many other very good teams (e.g. the Cardinals and Pirates), but also some not very good teams (the Reds and Brewers).

1.) Chicago Cubs: Starters — 1,
Bullpen — 2, Lineup — 1

The Cubs were the best team in baseball last year and only got better in the offseason, trading for all-star closer Wade Davis and addressing their biggest “issue” of last year, the bullpen. Their lineup is led by stars Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo as well as many other good players. Their rotation is led by Jake Arrieta, one of the best pitchers in baseball who has all-stars Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks behind him. The Cubs are definitely favorites to repeat.

2.) St Louis Cardinals: Starters — 2, Bullpen — 1, Lineup — 3

The Cardinals look to continue their winning ways by making the playoffs again. The bullpen is very good and could compete with the Cubs for tops in the division. Their rotation is led by ageless wonder Adam Wainwright and young up-and-coming stars Carlos Martinez and Lance Lynn. The lineup is a good mix of young and old players, but is missing the star-power that is seen in the Cubs lineup. The Cardinals should be able to cruise to a second place finish in the division and nab a wild-card spot in this year’s playoffs.

3.) Pittsburgh Pirates: Starters — 4, Bullpen — 3, Lineup — 2

The Pirates have a very good lineup led by Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison. Their issue is pitching. The only good pitcher in their rotation is the unreliable Gerrit Cole and they have nobody in the bullpen. To make the playoffs they will need rotation help from the pitchers behind Cole, as well as an injury free season from Cole to give them a reliable ace.

4.) Milwaukee Brewers: Starters — 3, Bullpen — 4, Lineup — 4

The Brewers are in the middle of a rebuild, so they don’t have much at the major league level. Their one plus is their lineup, led by Ryan Braun and Jonathan Vilar. They have some young pitchers as well, but no bullpen. The Brewers are just another team building for 2020.

5.) Cincinnati Reds: Starters — 5, Bullpen — 5, Lineup — 5

The Reds are engaged in a massive rebuild and have been trading away stars such as Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, Aroldis Chapman, and Brandon Phillips for the past two years. The Reds only have one older star left, Joey Votto, but have plenty of rising stars such as Adam Duvall, Anthony DeSclafani, and Billy Hamilton. The Reds are another rebuilding team that should be good in a few years.

National League West

The NL West has a few very interesting teams. They have the payroll-heavy Las Angeles Dodgers. They have the Rockies, with the best hitters park in the league. They have the Giants, winners of three world series this decade. They also have two teams engaged in some sort of win now, but also rebuild position (Diamondbacks and Padres). It is going to be interesting to see who wins this division and to see if it will send more than one team to the playoffs in the ultra-competitive NL.

1.) Los Angeles Dodgers: Starters — 2, Bullpen — 1, Lineup — 2

The Dodgers have the best pitcher in the league heading a staff filled with a mix of veterans and rookies, each of whom are very good. Their bullpen is headed by all-star closer Kenley Jansen, who is supported by stars Sergio Romo and Pedro Baez. Their “weak spot” is their lineup, which is still one of the best in the division, led by rising star Corey Seager and many other good players. The Dodgers look like a lock to win 90+ games and win the division that they have won every year since 2013.

2.) San Francisco Giants: Starters — 1, Bullpen — 3, Lineup — 4

The Giants have easily the best starting five in the league. Led by ace Madison Bumgarner, they also have Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija Matt Moore and Matt Cain. In the bullpen they have all-star closer Mark Melancon, but nothing else. The lineup is pretty solid, but doesn’t have much star power behind Posey. The Giants should be an 80-85 win team, but that probably won’t be enough to make the playoffs in the super competitive NL.

3.) Colorado Rockies: Starters — 4, Bullpen — 2, Lineup — 1

The Rockies have a great lineup in the best hitters park in the league. They are led by perennial MVP candidate Nolan Arenado and have many other good players behind him. The bullpen is led by closer Greg Holland and also has Chad Qualls and Adam Ottavino, good pitchers but not stars. The Rockies’ one weakness is their staff, where they have no good pitchers behind Jon Gray. They will likely miss out on the playoffs for the eighth straight year due to their lack of pitching.

4.) Arizona Diamondbacks:
Starters — 3, Bullpen — 4, Lineup — 3

The Diamondbacks have a really good team, but are at a disadvantage because they are a member of one of the best divisions in baseball. The lineup is led by MVP caliber player Paul Goldschmidt, has all-star AJ Pollock, and rising stars Yasmany Tomas and Jake Lamb, yet is still only the third best lineup in the division. Their staff has former Cy-Young Zack Greinke, all-star Shelby Miller, a good number three starter in Taijuan Walker, and two young rising stars in Robbie Ray and Archie Bradley, yet it is still only the third best staff in the division. Their only real weakness is the bullpen, where they have nobody behind Fernando Rodney.

5.) San Diego Padres: Starters — 5, Bullpen — 5, Lineup — 5

The Padres tried to go all-in a few years ago and failed miserably. Now, they are back to rebuilding with only one player of all-star caliber, Wil Myers. I pity you Padres fans; it’s going to be a long next few years.

Wild Card Game: Mets beat Cardinals

NLDS: Cubs beat Mets

NLDS: Dodgers beat Nationals

NLCS: Cubs beat Dodgers

World Series Cubs beat Indians

Ezra Troy is a sophomore at the Berman Hebrew Academy, where he is a member of the Model UN team, student council, and the student paper. In addition to writing for Kol HaBirah and his school paper, Ezra is the senior east coast correspondent for My ESPN for Kids, a sports blog. He has lived in the Kemp Mill neighborhood of Silver Spring, Maryland, for 14 years and currently attends Kemp Mill Synagogue.