Alright, so I've been looking at the records, the stats, and the injury lists, and I think I'm prepared to make some bold predictions about the playoff picture for the NL. Will I be right? Possibly. Should you go to Vegas and plop down $100 on all my predictions? That totally depends on their odds. Most likely you shouldn't. It's a bad economy. Just go put that money towards your credit card debt from when you bought season tickets.
So after much ado, here's the picture of what I see the playoffs looking like at the end of the season.
NL East Champ - Atlanta Braves
NL Central Champ - St. Louis Cardinals
NL West Champ - San Francisco Giants
NL Wild Cards - Washington Nationals & Cincinnati Reds.
So why those teams? Well, firstly I believe the Braves have been really bad at home because our lineups have been wildly inconsistent. Dan Uggla and Brian McCann have both been terrible, but they are showing signs of coming out of it. Uggla bats well in the second half constantly, and McCann has already started to put balls in the seats after flailing for months. Add in Ben Sheets, and a tremendous record on the road? We have a potential to get to 95 wins and a division title.
I realize the Cardinals are 3rd in the division behind the Pirates and Reds right now, but there are a few things you have to take into account. For one thing, the Cardinals are equally good on the road and at home, whereas the Pirates pretty much win at home, and go sub .500 on the road. I see this division really being a race between the Cardinals and the Reds down the stretch as the Pirates do their classic fade into the distance. The last series of the year is the Cards v. Reds and could play into who gets the wild card and who gets the division.
The Giants will most likely overtake the Dodgers because of injuries. Even with the bad good pitching, the Dodgers will have to hope that Kemp and Eithier come back just as productive as when they left. Otherwise, they can't hit their way out of a wet paper sack. The problem is that Kemp's hamstring is a tough thing to overcome and ever get back to 100%. Meanwhile the Giants are getting offensively stronger, and their pitching (outside of Timmy) is just as good.
The Wild Cards will be the two strongest teams left in the stronger divisions. I'm assuming that LA is going to fall apart under the weight of expectation and injury, since it's obvious only two guys can offensively produce. The Mets have overperformed and are likely to spend the second half trying to tread water. The rest of the league is getting close to going into sell mode, with the exception of maybe Arizona or Miami IF they get extremely hot in the first 3 weeks back. I don't believe that will happen, though, because Arizona and Miami are 10th and 11th in NL pitching. Almost nobody makes the playoffs with pitching that bad unless they are raking at the plate, and only Arizona has a shot in that category.
So there's your playoff picture. I looked up the Odds for that, and the Braves are +200 to win the division, the Cardinals are +140 to win the Central, and the Giants are -150. Also, if you are so inclined, the Braves are a robust +600 to win the NL pennant. Now, in the World Series, it's pretty much the Yankees and the Rangers favored above everybody. I have no prediction for that, other than the fact I hate the Yankees.