The results are in on our first Community Roundtable poll, and it has been decided by the Daily Dish cognoscenti that the Boston Red Sox will win the American League East.
This week, we move to the National League side of the Eastern bloc, and debate amongst ourselves who will come out as division champion.
Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton are a pair of the most exciting young players going right now. Not to mention Henderson Alvarez, who threw one of the more interesting no-hitters on the last day of the season (against the Tigers) and had a WAR/200 IP of 3.7 in 2013.
They did lose 100 games, finishing 34 games back of division winner Atlanta. And they really don't have much else to look forward to, in terms of help.
But Stanton. [Probably NSFW]
A rotation that features Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels has a good head start on things. Throw in A.J. Burnett, and you've got a more-than-adequate 1-2-3 for your rotation. Bring a young guy like Jonathan Pettibone into the fold for his second season and you've got the men, you just need the outfits.
And therein lies the difficulty, as the Phillies will, for the time, rest their offensive prowess on the shoulders of Chase Utley, who managed to play 130+ games for the first time in four years; Ryan Howard, who hasn't been a threat since 2011; and Domonic Brown, who had his first non-negative WAR season in 2013, though he still managed to come in under-average due to his defense.
People have done less with more, or more with less. But this Philadelphia team feels a lot like...
...the New York Mets of the past, oh, decade or so. Which is to say, talented but old, maybe could be good if people don't get hurt, or just sort of meh. It is a title that has worked so well. the New York Mehs.
This year could be different, though. Matt Harvey...what's that? Oh. Oh...right.
Well. Bartolo Colon is a thing. And Curtis Granderson is an upgrade. Maybe Juan Lagares can get his OBP north of .290. And if David Wright* plays a full season**, they might really have something. The rotation isn't bad, but without Matt Harvey, it is just so Mets, so meh, so Mehs.
*Will be one of the best (read: top 5) third baseman when it is all said done, if healthy.
**Has managed one full season the last three years. He's only 31, though. Yeah, I was surprised, too.
Nearly everybody's consensus pick to at least make it to the NLCS, if not the World's Series, in 2013. Only managed as many wins as the Kansas City Royals, and only one more than the toothless New York Yankees.
Despite getting 3-Win seasons out of Strasburg, Gonzalez, and Zimmerman, the pitching staff as a whole finished 12th in the majors in WAR. Two of those three need to produce more like Aces if they want to make headway. Which, by the way, is completely possible. Strasburg has, in my opinion, the best "stuff" in the game. At least he did, pre-injury, and he can find it again. Zimmerman and Gonzalez are both capable of taking steps forward as well.
The offense was as equally nice, and yet managed only 17th in the majors in WAR. Harper spending some time off the field didn't help, and Jayson Werth only managed 129 games. But they got 3+ Wins out of five players on offense. This could easily turn right around.
This will be an interesting season for the Braves. Coming off their 96-win division title and pacing the division by ten games, the Braves will look to do battle with a full complement of offense and defense. Despite losing Brian McCann, Atlanta will still field a team that includes Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Jason Heyward, and Justin Upton. Chris Johnson is no slouch either. B.J. Upton can't possibly Francoeur his way through another year.
On the pitching side, it would appear that Mike Minor has started to figure it out. Kris Medlen is a competent mid-rotation guy, and Julio Teheran is starting his ascent. Brandon Beachy looks to be back in form, and Alex Wood had a WAR/200 IP last year of 4.1. It is a good, young staff. Maybe not early '90s good, but pretty good.