National League Preview
By Guest Blogger Kyle Howard:
As the baseball season is underway, there’s already lots of questions to think about. Will a team take down the heavily favored Phillies? Do the Giants have what it takes to make it back to the World Series? Will Cubs finally end their World Series drought of 102 years and coming? Here is my outlook on the NL this year:
Team to Watch: Atlanta Braves; The Braves have one of the best farm systems in the major leagues and finally we may see some of the young stars of the organizations. I see Jason Heyward having an MVP worthy year. Much expectations have been asked from Heyward and the young guns of the staff. Look for this team to be one of the front runners of the division and win the wild card spot.
Player to Watch: Craig Kimbrel (RP, Braves); The braves organization has had its eye on Kimbrel for the past year to take the reigns of the closer role. This hard throwing reliever has hit 98mph on the gun multiple times and looks to be a big difference maker for the Braves this year.
Division Winner: Phillies; As much as it kills me to say it, the Phillies are the front runners for the World Series this year. Over the offseason they were able to turn an above average staff into a hitting nightmare. As long as Chase Utley can come back from his knee problems look for the Phillies to be the favorites to represent the National League this year in the World Series.
Team to Watch: Brewers; A lot of talk has been circulating around this Brewers club. Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun anchor a very decent line up that should give plenty of run support to the pitching staff. Yovani Gallardo anchors a very young pitching staff. The acquistion of Zach Grienke was clutch for the Brewers in the offseason. As long as the bullpen can stay above water look for this team to be pushing for a division title come September.
Player to Watch: Starlin Castro (SS, Cubs); Much hype has been given to this young talent in the Cubs organization. After making his first appearance in the summer of last year, Castro was able to hit .300 and bring a nice spark in the Cubs offense. Look for Castro to have a Rookie of the Year type of year and build off his performance from last year.
Division Winner: Reds; The Reds are coming off a turnaround season last year after not making the playoffs since 1995. Led by MVP Joey Votto and young star Jay Bruce, look for the Reds to continue their success into the playoffs this year.
Team to Watch: Rockies; In a division that is basically a coinflip every year, look for the Rockies to capitalize on a disappointing season last year. Led by star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and Ace Ubaldo Jimenez, look for the Rockies to capitalize on there runner up MVP Carlos Gonzalez’s season and make some noise come playoff time.
Player to Watch: Mat Latos (SP, Padres); After quite an impressive year last year, Mat Latos is a name that will be heard around the baseball community for years to come. He had one of the best era’s in the major leagues last year and he is only going to get better. After his little minor stint on the DL this year, look for Latos to pick up where he left off and have another All-Star worthy year.
Division Winner: Giants; Its hard to pick against the defending World Series Champs. With as young and talented pitching staff their is in the national league, look for the Giants to put themselves in position for another division title.
NL World Series Representitive: Rockies
World Series Prediction: Yankees over Rockies in 6