I was inspired to write what I thought would happen in the NL because of Neyer’s post on the AL earlier today. I knew his NL post was forthcoming and so I wanted to spit out my own before his NL was posted. Well, he just posted his NL projections and they aren’t so different from my own.
Seriously, you can bet on everything you're about to read. Bet the house. Bet the car. Bet the kids.
Seriously, don't do any of that. Don't even bet the dog. Baseball players are people and people are people and people will surprise you. But this is how I see the final National League standings, anyway ...
I'm not counting the Phillies out yet. They've won too many games over the years, have too much talent, and the Braves aren't exactly perfect. I just can't figure out how they're going to win on those days when Roy Halladay or Cole Hamels aren't toeing the old slab. If Chase Utley comes back strong, though, they'll be worth at least a sidelong glance. I am, on the other hand, giving up on the Mets. According to geniuses like me, they were supposed to make their push when Carlos Beltran got back into the lineup. Instead they've gone the other way, and it's not hard to imagine them getting worse before they get better.
It's not that I don't like the Reds. It's just that I like the Cardinals more.
Generally speaking, this entire exercise is roughly akin to dart throwing. But hashing out the National League West is like throwing featherless darts while blindfolded. Granted, there is some separation now, with the Dodgers six off the pace and the sliding Rockies 7.5 games out of first place. But Baseball Prospectus' third-order standings have them bunched up pretty good, with the Rockies actually on top. Granted, it's probably too late in the season for that to help them enough, but these teams really aren't as far apart as you might think.
Why the Giants over the Padres? Because a) I still don't quite believe the Padres are this good, and b) I get the impression that the Giants are finally putting, most nights, as much of their talent on the field as they c an. As for the Dodgers, I can't really figure why I've got them finishing fourth, except they're facing some tough competition and they simply haven't played well through almost four months of the season. They could almost as easily finish second as fourth, and it's too early to give up on first. But where's that going to come from? A big trade? Devastating second half from Manny Ramirez? A stirring locker-room speech by Jamie McCourt?
All of those things would make for a great story. And it's probably going to take a great story for the Dodgers to finish ahead of three other good teams.