Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2013 Prospectus: NL East


2012 W-L: 94-68

2012 Runs Per Game: 4.32 (7th in NL)

2012 Runs Allowed Per Game: 3.70 (4th in NL)

Key Losses:  Chipper Jones, Michael Bourn, David Ross

2013 Projected Lineup

  • 1B:  Freddie Freeman
  • 2B:  Dan Uggla
  • SS:  Andrelton Simmons
  • 3B:  Martin Prado
  • LF:  ???
  • CF:  B.J. Upton
  • RF:  Jason Heyward
  • C:  Brian McCann

2013 Projected Pitching Staff


  1. Tim Hudson
  2. Kris Medlen
  3. Brandon Beachy
  4. Mike Minor
  5. Paul Maholm/Delgado/Teheran

Closer: Craig Kimbrel


This team has fantastic pitching and good depth. There’s not one starter out there who jumps out as a true ace (assuming Kris Medlen is, in fact, mortal), but there are so many good choices that even if someone doesn’t develop, there should be internal options available. It’s also possible that one (or more) of these guys takes a big step forward this year into that role.

I really like the signing of B.J. Upton here. Upton’s not great at any one thing, but he’s got a broad base of skills that should age well (Next year will be Upton’s age 28 season, so he’s probably still got some prime years left). Upton adds to what was already a strong defense (they finished 1st in the NL last year in Defensive Efficiency), and the only real defensive liability is Uggla, who should be moved to left field if it weren’t so damn hard to find a good second baseman these days.

This is good team, a young team and an athletic team that should be just as competitive in 2013 as it was in 2012.


The much-vaunted pitching depth collapsed last year with injuries to almost every one of their young starters forcing them to deploy Emergency Plan “B. for Ben Sheets.'” Their offense is solid, but the only reliably plus hitter the Braves have is Heyward. Uggla, McCann and Prado could surprise me as strong supporting players. However, it would be nice for the Braves to get a solid bat for left field, even if that player isn’t a defensive gem (although there aren’t many of those guys left). And losing David Ross does actually hurt the team.


Just back of the Nats in the race for the division title.


2012 W-L: 69-93

2012 Runs Per Game: 3.76 (15th in NL)

2012 Runs Allowed Per Game: 4.47 (12th in NL)

Key Losses: Their dignity

2013 Projected Lineup:

  • 1B:  Logan Morrison
  • 2B:  Donovan Solano
  • SS:  Adeiny Hechevarria
  • 3B:  Placido Polanco
  • LF:  Juan Pierre
  • CF:  Justin Ruggiano
  • RF:  Giancarlo Stanton
  • C:  Jeff Mathis

2013 Projected Pitching Staff:


  1. Ricky Nolasco
  2. Nate Eovaldi
  3. Henderson Alvarez
  4. Jacob Turner
  5. Wade LeBlanc?

Closer: Steve Cishek


It takes a lot to look on the bright side here, especially at the major league level. Giancarlo Stanton is a superstar, so there’s that. Logan Morrison can hit, (I’m projecting him at first base since the team signed Juan Pierre, but that’s just a guess). Hechevarria might be decent. There’s some promise with Eovaldi and Turner.

I got nothin’.


Their owner and team president (with an assist from Uncle Bud) perpetrated a protection racket on the state of Florida and didn’t even follow through with the actual protection.


“What are you saying? You want us to lose?”

“No. We’ve been losing. What I want is for us to finish dead last.”

-- Major League


2012 W-L: 74-88

2012 Runs Per Game: 4.01 (12th in NL)

2012 Runs Allowed Per Game: 4.38 (11th in NL)

Key Losses: That R.A. guy … whatever

2013 Projected Lineup:

  • 1B:  Ike Davis
  • 2B:  Daniel Murphy
  • SS:  Ruben Tejada
  • 3B:  David Wright
  • LF:  ???
  • CF:  Andres Torres
  • RF:  Lucas Duda
  • C:  Josh Thole/John Buck

2013 Projected Pitching Staff


  1. Johan Santana
  2. Matt Harvey
  3. Jonathon Niese
  4. Dillon Gee
  5. Zack Wheeler?

Closer: Frank Francisco


That starting rotation may be risky, but it has a lot of promise. Harvey and Wheeler, in particular, could give the Mets the best 1-2 punch they’ve had in a long time (although I wouldn’t expect Wheeler to see much time in the majors in 2013).

The offense, however, is pretty bad and not likely to get much better. On the plus side? Well, other than the question mark that is Ike Davis, the infield is pretty solid.


There is a lot of risk in the pitching staff, and not just with the young players. Johan looked awful down the stretch. The bullpen was an abomination, but that might actually be good news, since it’s bound to bounce back somewhat.

I mentioned the Mets had a solid infield, but the outfield is a wreck. Duda isn’t awful, but that’s not much of a compliment, and I don’t know who the Mets expect to give them quality production in left and center. Maybe Jordany Valdespin can bring back some magic and make home runs magically appear or saw Mr. Met in half.


Generally mediocre, but with some cautious optimism. If they can dig up a hitter or two, they might even finish above .500.


2012 W-L: 81-81

2012 Runs Per Game: 4.22 (8th in NL)

2012 Runs Allowed Per Game: 4.20 (8th in NL)

Key Losses: Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco

2013 Projected Lineup:

  • 1B:  Ryan Howard
  • 2B:  Chase Utley
  • SS:  Jimmy Rollins
  • 3B:  Michael Young
  • LF:  John Mayberry, Jr.?
  • CF:  Ben Revere
  • RF:  Domonic Brown
  • C:  Carlos Ruiz

2013 Projected Pitching Staff


  1. Cole Hamels
  2. Cliff Lee
  3. Roy Halladay
  4. Kyle Kendrick
  5. John Lannan?

Closer: Jonathan Papelbon


There’s still enough upside here for Phillie fans to dream on. The Phillies gave up a lot to get Ben Revere, but he does give them their only real plus defender. That, plus the possibility of Ryan Howard getting healthy and Domonic Brown just being left alone, it’s not too crazy to see an above-average offense here.

The pitching staff looks good, although they may look to add depth at the back of the rotation (and no, Lannan doesn’t count). Papelbon is overpaid, but he is still good, and the bullpen isn’t such a concern. Hamels is an ace, Halladay is still pretty close even as he ages, and Cliff Lee just had one of the best seasons ever for a guy who only won 6 games.


There’s no one in the lineup who I can reasonably expect to be both healthy and productive for any significant length of time. Howard’s getting older and doesn’t mash like he used to, ditto for Rollins (who can at least still field) and Utley may never play more than 120 games again. I might have considered Ruiz, but then there’s the possibility that his spike in offense was artificially enhanced, and he’ll be suspended 25 games no matter what. Even with the addition of a young and vibrant center fielder, this lineup is held together by masking tape and memories. They may have one last hurrah left, but that’s hoping for a lot of stars to align.

Halladay is entering his age 36 season, while Lee will be in his age 34 season. Halladay showed some signs of breaking down in 2012, and while I don’t want to underestimate him, it may be that the old Roy Halladay isn’t coming back. That puts a lot of pressure on Lee, who is also getting older, and means we may see more of Kyle Kendrick than is healthy for a Philadelphia sports fan.


Who knows? Maybe they win 85-88 and chase the Wild Card, or maybe they implode and win 70. I’ll split the difference and predict a merely decent season. Although they’ve got the money to change this forecast very quickly.


2012 W-L: 98-64

2012 Runs Per Game: 4.51 (5th in NL)

2012 Runs Allowed Per Game: 3.67 (2nd in NL)

Key Losses: Edwin Jackson, Adam LaRoche (maybe)

2013 Projected Lineup:

  • 1B:  Mike Morse
  • 2B:  Danny Espinosa
  • SS:  Ian Desmond
  • 3B:  Ryan Zimmerman
  • LF:  Jayson Werth
  • CF:  Denard Span
  • RF:  Bryce Harper
  • C:  Wilson Ramos

2013 Projected Pitching Staff:


  1. Stephen Strasburg
  2. Gio Gonzalez
  3. Jordan Zimmermann
  4. Dan Haren
  5. Ross Detwiler

Closer: Tyler Clippard


The best-case scenario is what happened in 2012. They had an offense that turned out to be much greater than the sum of its parts and a dominant pitching staff. Almost all of the key players are returning, and there’s a chance that the team adds another piece or two in free agency (if LaRoche returns, that adds maybe a win or two for 2013).

The Nats cleverly nabbed Denard Span at very little cost, which is a surprise considering the money (and prospects) being spent on similar center fielders this year. Span isn’t a great hitter, but he gets on base at a good clip and can handler center, plus his contract is very team-friendly.

It’s also worth pointing out that there is some room for improvement over 2012. Ryan Zimmerman didn’t have his best year, Wilson Ramos got injured, Bryce Harper is on the verge of mega-stardom and Strasburg will presumably be free to pitch a full workload. All good news.


There were also a few guys who played above their heads, meaning that regression might hit hard – particularly in the lineup. Ian Desmond apparently discovered a big bag of offense in his garage, Espinosa prospered despite a low contact rate and Adam LaRoche had a career year. Whether these trends continue is questionable. I also don’t know how much of Gio Gonzalez’s leap forward is legit. There’s evidence of a change in the process that should account for some of it, but I don’t know if I’m really looking at a top-five pitcher when I look at him.


Not 98-game winners, but strong contenders for the division title.

NEXT UP:  The N.L. Central won’t have the Astros to kick around any more …

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