Here are my forecasts for the division standings for the National League for Season 7. I've added additional info for strengths or weaknesses if the team is in top or bottom 25% of the league for one of my three evaluation categories: Offense, Starting Pitching, and Relief Pitching. Unlike the AL, the offseason movement appears to have shaken up the NL playoff picture just a bit with the NL East looking like the power division and the NL South starting to rise from the ashes. The one thing I am certain about is that the NL picture seems alot muddier than the AL with many more teams with playoff potential. (Playoff Seed in parenthesis)
1. Chicago Cubs (2) - Strength: SP
2. Montreal Expos
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. Milwaukee Brewers - Weakness: Off, SP, RP
Can the Cubs live up to their potential this season or will they continue to disappoint? The defending NL champions in Montreal will definitely feel the loss of Springer as Marte must now carry the team himself. The Brewers will continue to stockpile talent in the minors while their major league team flounders.
1. Philadelphia Phillies (1) - Strength: Off, SP, RP
2. Washington DC Nationals (5) - Strength: RP
3. New York Mets (6) - Strength: SP, RP
4. Pittsburgh Pirates - Weakness: Off, RP
The Phillies look like the team to beat once again as they excel in all areas. The Nats are still strong competitors with a dominant bullpen. The Mets have the league's best pitching staff and this season their mediocre offense should get them to their first postseason. The Pirates still have a few top performers but lack of depth remains their downfall.
1. St. Louis Cardinals (4) - Strength: Off; Weakness: RP
2. Florida Marlins
3. Atlanta Braves - Weakness: SP
4. Houston Astros - Weakness: SP
The NL South has historically been the weakest division in Kinsella, but this offseason, a strong effort was made to change that. The Cards are once again my top rated team, but after last season, I am not a believer in seeing it translate to superior on-field performance. The Marlins made some solid additions to compete for the division or wild card. The Braves are a puzzle to me as their SP looks like one of the worst, yet last season was one of the better performing staffs. The players they did bring in should help them get over .500 this season, but they should be watching the playoffs on tv. The Astros made some improvements which should take them away from the #1 pick competition and closer to the middle of the road.
1. San Francisco Giants (3) - Strength: Off, RP
2. San Diego Padres - Strength: Off
3. Arizona Diamondbacks - Strength: SP; Weakness: Off
4. Los Angeles Dodgers - Weakness: Off, SP, RP
The Giants will likely run away with the West again this season as their offense and pitching remain strong. The Padres made the biggest signing in the NL with the addition of Bernard Springer, who single-handedly raises their offense from middle of the pack to top tier and puts them in the wild card hunt. The D'backs will likely slip out of the playoffs this season as their offense just isn't going to provide enough run support for their top notch pitching. The Dodgers will be near the bottom of the league with weaknesses across the board.
1. Washington DC Nationals (5)
2. New York Mets (6)
3. San Diego Padres
4. Florida Marlins
5. Montreal Expos
6. Arizona Diamondbacks
7. Cincinnati Reds
8. Atlanta Braves