Spring is in the air. It’s getting warmer and birds are
singing so that can mean just one thing. That’s right, the baseball season is
just days away so what better time than now to take a closer look at five
potential National League playoff teams. Cincinnati Reds The Reds have
everything you need when it comes to a complete baseball team. They can hit,
pitch, and play defense. Joey Votto is a candidate for MVP every year and this
year will be no different. The team recently decided to leave fireball lefty,
Aroldis Chapman, as the closer which I think is an excellent decision. Last
season the Reds had trouble getting on base at the top of the line up. They
addressed that in the off season when they sent the speedy Drew Stubbs to
Cleveland for Shin-Soo Choo. Choo has a career OBP of .381. With Choo and
Brandon Phillips batting one, two that will mean a lot of RBI opportunities for
Votto and Jay Bruce. If the Reds stay healthy they should contend for a World
Saint Louis Cardinals This team just finds ways to win. They have a
solid lineup lead by Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday with one of the best
catchers in the game in Yadier Molina. The pitching rotation is solid as well.
The key to this team will be Chris Carpenter. When he is healthy this team makes
the playoffs. He is a true number one pitcher on this staff that makes a potent
combination with Adam Wainwright. San Francisco Giants I guess if you win two
World Series in three years you have to be included as a potential playoff team.
The Giants get it done with pitching and defense. There really is no player in
the lineup that strikes fear in opposing pitchers but they do get the job done
with timely hitting. This year they will rely on the same. The rotation is very
good and Sergio Romo has done a great job at closing.
If Tim Lincecum can return to his once Cy Young form they are going to be a tough team to beat in any series. Washington Nationals The Nats are the favorites to win the NL East this year and rightfully so. They were the best team in the division last year and have added Denard Span, the type of leadoff hitter they lacked last year. Bryce Harper is only going to get better and Ryan Zimmerman appears to finally be
healthy. The starting rotation is one of the best in baseball. Stephen
Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, and Dan Haren make up a top four that
anybody in baseball would be happy with. They disappointed in the playoffs in
2012 so I expect them to come back with even more focus this year. Philadelphia
Phillies Picking the Phillies as a potential playoff team might surprise a lot
of people but I do like their chances. Last year the injury bug bit them hard.
This year they have a healthy Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and that is going to
make a huge difference. They have also added Michael Young to solidify the third
base position. Jonathan Papelbon will close for a team that has one heck of a
top three rotation.
Cole Hamels leads the way with Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay
not far behind. If they stay healthy I could see a return trip to the playoffs.
They will need production from Dominic Brown as well. He has looked solid in
grapefruit league action when he steps to the plate. As far as National League
futures i’d bet the Phillies at 7-1 odds to win the National league.