Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The National League frontrunner is...

Though I think the early frontrunner in the American League is the Texas Rangers, I am far less certain about the National League.  There are at least three teams that could emerge as the team to beat.  Of course, it is early in the season so other teams could bound to the front, but right now, I am focused on three.  One of those teams is my beloved Atlanta Braves, but since I have bored you all in other postings about them, I will keep my comments on them brief.  The Braves continue to roll early in the season, including a sweep of defending World Series champion St. Louis last weekend.  It was a statement series for the Braves because the Cardinals aced them out of the last playoff spot last year en route to the title.  If the Braves keep hitting, I like their chances.
The Cardinals also deserve a good, hard look. The Cards and the Braves rank one-two in runs scored in the league. Never underestimate an organization that is used to winning.  The Cardinals have the most World Series titles in the National League (11), and intangibles like this give a good team an extra edge.  Also, the Central Division is hardly as competitive as the Eastern Division where the Braves play. Seriously, who else is good in the Central?  Milwaukee won it last year but have bumbled and stumbled so far this year.  The loss of Prince Fielder has left a gaping hole. After them, who else could emerge there?  The Cubs? Pirates? Astros? You get the point.  If the Brewers do not pull it together, the Cardinals could coast to the postseason.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been red hot in the Western Division.  Strong starting pitching and Matt Kemp have been enough.  Of course, Kemp is dealing with a hamstring injury so a bumpy road could be ahead in the short term.  Again, the Dodgers have a similar, enviable situation like the Cardinals – they play in a relatively easy division.  The San Francisco Giants have good starting pitching but cannot score consistently.  The San Diego Padres stink and are definitely in rebuilding mode.  The Colorado Rockies are fun to watch because the ball is jumping out of Coors Field more than in recent years.  High scoring games are entertaining, but their pitching staff may be in shreds by July.
So, it could be the Dodgers...or the Cardinals...or the Braves...or somebody else.

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