Mid-Season MLB Analysis: National League

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Dodgers and Nationals are the cream of this crop. Three surprises–Arizona, Milwaukee, and Colorado–round out a top five that doesn’t include the Cubs.

Last week I gave you my take on every American League team. This week I’ll look at the AL’s “no DH” counterpart—the National League.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Atlanta has certainly turned things around from last season. The ’15 Braves went a terrible 68-93. Team RBI leader Nick Markakis (46) and company stand at a not-too-shabby 42-45, but the Braves still trail by several games in both the NL East and Wild Card races. A postseason appearance doesn’t seem likely.

Courtesy: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins: This is a team with the potential to make some noise in the NL East. Although trailing the Washington Nationals by 10.5 games, Miami is a team that has solid bats in Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. But solid starting pitching has been as rare as snowfall in the Sunshine State. Take Tom Koehler, for example. He has started 10 games for Miami and has a simply terrible 8.00 ERA. Even worse, the staff as a whole has generated just 28 quality starts through 87 games.

Washington Nationals: The Pentagon has contacted Nationals’ manager, Dusty Baker, to acquire some of the weapons he currently has on roster. Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, and Anthony Rendon are all slugging above the .300 mark and that quartet has sent 69 souvenirs into the outfield crowd. Pair that power with a stellar pitching staff, which includes Max Scherzer (2.10 ERA, arguably the best pitcher in baseball), and you have a team that few clubs are capable of slowing.

New York Mets: New York’s troubles are all about the pitching. The Mets are the third-worst team, ERA-wise, in baseball and Jacob deGrom has been the only consistent player on the hill. It may be time for making personnel changes before the trade deadline.

Philadelphia Phillies: Who would have thought it possible? A few years ago this team was unassailable but, today, the Phillies have the worst record in Major League Baseball. The glory days of Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay are in the rearview mirror. It’s rebuilding time in the City of Brotherly Love.

NL Central

Courtesy: Chicago Tribune

Chicago Cubs: There’s no way to really explain the Cubs’ woes. Manager Joe Maddon returned nearly everybody (save Dexter Fowler and Aroldis Chapman) from a team that won the World Series. Yet Chicago may not make the postseason. The Cubs went from being the 3rd-best offensive team in the Majors to ranked 20th. A star-studded pitching staff has fallen from best in baseball to 9th. Is this “Curse of the Billy Goat,” Part Two”? 

Cincinnati Reds: 33-year-old Joey Votto is leading the National League with 26 home runs, but he’s not enough for the Reds to contend. Cincinnati has gone 10-20 since sweeping a four-game home set against St. Louis last month. The pitching is one reason. The staff has a 5.05 ERA with only 30 quality starts. That’s why Cincinnati is looking up at everybody else in the NL Central.

Milwaukee Brewers: Milwaukee has been the surprise story of 2017. Projected to finish 69-93 by Bleacher Report, the Brewers now find themselves at the top of their division. Ranking in the Top 10 in MLB in both hitting and pitching, the Brew Crew is brimming (no pun intended) with youth. This is definitely a team to watch.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Outside of star player, Andrew McCutchen (.294 BA, 17 HR, 50 RBI), the offense has been non-existent at times: Pittsburgh has plated just 378 runners. Yes, the Pirates are within striking distance in the division, but unless Clint Hurdle sees production from guys other than McCutchen, the Bucs won’t contend.

St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals are the 5th-youngest team in all of baseball and that may factor into why St. Louis is below .500 at the Break. But the starting pitching has been stellar (6th-best in MLB) and the offense has come together since Luke Voit was brought up a couple weeks ago. He’s batting .316 with 3 homers and 8 RBI in a stretch that saw the Cardinals go 10-5 with Voit on the roster. 

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: The expectations have finally turned into reality out in the desert. This roster, which may have the most potential of any team in MLB, is led by Paul Goldschimt (.312 BA, 20 HR, and 67 RBI). Arizona is in a position to make the postseason for the first time since 2011.

Colorado Rockies: Like Arizona, Colorado has rallied from bottom-feeder status to top dog largely because it’s the 5th-best offensive team in baseball. And while this club is looking to make the postseason for just the fourth time in franchise history, participation will have to come via a Wild Card. Middle-of-the-road pitching will keep Colorado from catching the red-hot LA Dodgers team in the division race.

Courtesy: NY Post

Los Angeles Dodgers: Shucking out the big bucks has finally payed off for Dodgers GM, Farhan Zaidi. Los Angeles has the highest payroll in MLB at $242,065,828, but that payout hasn’t paid dividends until this season. The Dodgers are the team to beat. If bats remain hot, pitching continues to thrive, and Kershaw keeps on being…well, Kershaw…then the Dodgers will win the World Series for the first time since 1988.

San Diego Padres: Unlike the Dodgers up Interstate 5, the Padres are not enjoying a good season. San Diego has the worst offensive team in baseball. Beautiful weather is what San Diegans enjoy this summer.

San Francisco Giants: I thought I’d never see it: the mighty Giants have fallen below the lowly Padres. But that day is here. San Francisco at the bottom of the barrel in both hitting and pitching. That’s why it has been a season to forget in the Bay Area.


About Cameron Brown

Cameron Brown is sports columnist with The Journal-Enterprise, Providence, Kentucky and winner of the Kentucky Press Association “Best Sports Column of the Year” award. Cameron has a passion for basketball–like so many others in his home state of Kentucky. He played basketball for his high school in rural western Kentucky and enjoys other sports, including college football and Major League Baseball. His dream is to have a job in sports.

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