Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Nats Set for Even Better ’13

Two weeks ago, I introduced my 2013 predictions for the American League, and now I present my forecast for the National League. Last year, your favorite prognosticator nailed the ascendancy of Washington, D.C.’s boys of summer but whiffed on the decline of division rival Philadelphia, a team I expected to play for the World Series.

Hopefully for fans in the DMV, my pick this year does not fall victim to that same kiss of death.

Projected NL East Standings

1. Washington Nationals

2. Atlanta Braves

3. Philadelphia Phillies

4. New York Mets

5. Miami Marlins

The East is incredibly top-heavy, with three candidates for the postseason, two of which — the Nationals and Braves — reside among the league’s best. Those two clubs each boast incredible depth and feature complete pitching staffs and exciting young players expected to play major roles in 2013. After winning the division in 2012 — and thanks in part to a significant change in leadership in Atlanta with the retirement of Chipper Jones and the arrival of the Upton brothers — the Nationals remain the favorite for the division crown in 2013. Expect young stars Bryce Harper of Washington and Jason Heyward of Atlanta to take the next steps in their careers and contend for the MVP award this season.

For the Phillies to compete, meanwhile, a lot is going to have to go right. Key veterans who have dealt with injuries — like Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley — need to return to their original form, and former top prospect Domonic Brown also needs to develop into the offensive force he was projected to be just two years ago; while I am pessimistic on the former, I remain hopeful on the latter. As for the Mets and Marlins, I expect each of them to fall into the bottom five of the entire league, especially after the Mets’ loss of ace Johan Santana for the entire season.

NL Central

1. Cincinnati Reds

2. St. Louis Cardinals

3. Milwaukee Brewers

4. Pittsburgh Pirates

5. Chicago Cubs

Like with the Nationals in the East, I expect the Reds to return to the promised land this season as winners of their division. Cincinnati’s competition, however, appears easier than its counterpart in D.C., with St. Louis the only significant threat to the Reds’ supremacy. Aside from adding outfielder Shin Soo Choo, Cincy mostly held steady this offseason, but the offensive upgrade from Drew Stubbsto Choo in center field should be significant. Likewise, the Reds are set to return Aroldis Chapman to the closer role, where he had one of the best seasons ever by a reliever a year ago, with a 1.51 earned run average, 0.81 WHIP and astounding 122 strikeouts.

The Cardinals, though, always outperform their perceived talent and have several impact prospects waiting in the wings. Up-and-coming outfielder Oscar Taveras projects as an All-Star long-term, while pitchers Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal have top-of-the-rotation arsenals that will bolster St. Louis’ big-league staff this season.

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

2. San Francisco Giants

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

4. San Diego Padres

5. Colorado Rockies

I learned my lesson with supposed superstar-laden rosters before, but I still cannot help but believe the Dodgers will dodge the trend and emerge as the champions of the NL West in 2013. Yes, they are significantly overpaying several players — notably the trio of Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett they received from the Red Sox last August — but the roster is incredibly deep with offensive and starting pitching depth. Should Crawford or Andre Ethier struggle in the outfield, they have phenomenal outfield prospect Yasiel Puig waiting in the wings, while they also have seven starting pitchers to fill five spots, led by ace and Cy Young award favorite Clayton Kershaw. Sure, the production won’t match the price tag (the Dodgers, not the Yankees, are projected to have the league’s highest payroll in 2013), but there is just too much talent in L.A. to avoid the postseason.

Moving on, I fully expect the Diamondbacks and defending World Series champion Giants to contend for not only the division but also the wild card positions, though I ultimately see them falling short in a five-team race with the Braves, Cardinals and Phillies for the two spots.

NL Championship Series

Nationals over Braves

The Fall Classic in D.C.? You’d better believe it. The Nationals are simply baseball’s most complete team thanks to a versatile offense, excellent starting five and quality bullpen with a steady closer. Not only do I expect them to win the National League, but I also see the Nationals emerging victorious in the World Series.

Dare to dream, District faithful.


Preston Barclay is a junior in the McDonough School of Business. TURNING TWO IN THE 202appears every Tuesday.

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