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My Very Early Playoff Predictions - Part 2 The National League

Following on from last weeks American League early playoff predictions here is part 2 the National league using same format as before these are very early but it will be nice to look back on these come playoff season.

 

All records correct as of 27th May 2024 and seeds 4, 5 and 6 will be in alphabetical order.

Part 1 can be found here 

National League East Winners – Philadelphia Phillies current record 38-16. As it stands the Phillies currently have the best record in baseball and this is following from a slow start of 8-8 in their first 16 games. Since then, they have won 30 out of their last 38 games. The NL East is basically a 2-team division with the Atlanta Braves who I am also predicting to have a strong season. When the Phillies reached the NLDS last season I was predicting them to make it all the way to the world series but lost to an unfancied Arizona Diamondbacks who surprisingly had a great playoff run. Although the NL has some great teams in it, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Phillies going one step further this year and make it all the way to the World Series. We all know Bryce Harper is the main man and when he isn’t playing wingman to college prom invites (search this if you haven’t already seen, it’s amazing) he is hitting a home run. 13 so far in fact the second highest in the NL, but it isn’t just Harper he’s got solid help from players such as Trea Turner, J.T. Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber and someone who impresses me and is having a real good season in Brandon Marsh a player who if he keeps going is an outside shot to make his first all-star appearance. The starting pitching rotation is just as good led by Ranger Suarez who in 11 games so far is pitching to a 1.75 ERA. When you combine a great offensive team with a great defensive team you’re a shoe in to make the playoffs and I think the Phillies will get there with ease.

 

 

National League Central Winners – Milwaukee Brewers current record 30-22. The Brew Crew as they love to be termed are my pick to win the NL central for a second year in a row. As I have discussed in previous articles, I do have both central divisions of MLB as the two weakest divisions on each side of the playoffs but the Brewers are consistent if not spectacular and I think they could make the playoffs with a 90 to 95 win season. William Contreras continues to be one of the better offensive catchers in the game and currently leads the Brewers in a lot of their offensive categories, and although currently on the 10 day IL Rhys Hoskins has been a great addition coming over on a 2 year deal from the Phillies. Jackson Chourio signed an 8-year $82 million dollar deal as the largest ever contract to a player in the system yet to make his MLB debut and things have not yet clicked, but he was signed to this deal for a reason and if the former top prospect clicks this season he is going to help to make the playoff cause.

 

National League West Winners – Los Angeles Dodgers current record 33-22. The Dodgers were basically the talk of the off season for two reasons Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The first directly pertains to the other as the fact Ohtani has deferred $68 of his $70 million a year contract means that the Dodgers then had the payroll amount available to go and sign Yamamoto. After a rough first outing in the Seoul series on his debut where he conceded 5 earned runs in just 1 inning of pitching against the San Diego Padres, he has settled into being the pitcher that so many MLB teams wanted to sign. Currently sitting at an ERA of 3.51 from 11 games I only expect him to get better. The main man though is of course Shohei Ohtani baseballs biggest superstar exclusively a DH in the first year of his 10-year deal is exactly what you would expect him to be. He’s an MVP level player currently sitting on 13 home runs and a batting average of .336 with 35 RBI’s. He is the focal point of an attack which also includes Freddy Freeman and Mookie Betts. The top of the Dodgers order is intimidating to say the least. Add to that one of the best rotations in baseball including Tyler Glasnow, Gavin Stone and James Paxton added to the aforementioned Yamamoto means the playoffs is the very minimum expected from the team this season.

 

 

Wild Card Race – In alphabetical order Atlanta Braves current record 30-20. The Atlanta Braves over the past few years are the definition of consistency with a core group of young players that play together pretty much every day. Literally yesterday their season hit a major blow with arguably their best player Ronald Acuna Jr tearing his ACL in a non-contact injury between the bases. With this season ending injury the Braves will have to adapt and they are good enough to do so. Trading for Chris Sale seems like an inspired decision and as long as he can stay healthy will improve an already good rotation. Sean Murphy is coming back from injury, and he is one of the best defensive catchers in the National League. If the Acuna Jr injury doesn’t affect the team mentally the Braves will most likely make the wild card slots with ease.

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates – Current Record 25-29. Possibly my most controversial pick a team that currently has a losing record. Obviously they will need to improve upon this to make the wild card spots. I know its easy to say but the pirates play better than their record suggests. They have a plethora of players who will get better and one of my favourite players to watch in terms of individual get you off your seat excitement in Oneil Cruz. The guy is pure power and has 7 home runs this season, his defence has improved and alongside veteran Andrew McCutchen and reliable outfielder Bryan Reynolds there is a good group of attacking players the Pirates still possess. Where they could struggle is in the pitching department, but this could all change with the call up of one of baseballs newest stars Paul Skenes. He has only pitched 3 games so far but looks already made for the big time. I genuinely think the Pirates could grab the final wild card spot.

 

 

San Diego Padres – Current record 28-28. With the inclusion of the Padres I am predicting my final wild card spot will go to a team currently running at a .500 pace. They have lost Juan Soto but gained an abundance of new pitching options including Michael King the one player in the trade the New York Yankees were reluctant to get rid of and you can see why. He’s an option to start or be a long reliever but has been inconsistent, King is a player I believe will come good the longer the season goes similar to last season with the Yankees. Fernando Tatis Jr looks more focussed this year and provides highlight reel moments both at the plate and on the field and currently sits on 9 home runs for the season. The very favourable for the Padres trade of Luis Arraez the on base machine and good starts from Jake Cronenworth and Jurickson Profar show that the offense is there or thereabouts. The starting rotation aside from King has also been solid Dylan Cease has had a fine start and apart from getting destroyed by the Yankees in the fourth innings a few games ago Yu Darvish has had a great start to the season.

 

So after reading both parts to the article the striking thing that I am predicting is that both the world series contenders from 2023 will not the playoffs. A bold claim and neither team have had a bad start and could easily make it. It will be nice to revisit this come the start of October and see how many of my 12 predictions came to pass and what the layout of the playoffs will be in 2024.

 

Stats taken from baseball-reference.com

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