2011 MLB Predictions - National League

NL Predictions for 2011

As the NFL season draws to a close and national interest in the NBA continues to plummet on an annual basis, most avid sports fans will begin to direct their attention to baseball and the 2011 MLB Season. Yes! It's finally that time of year with only a couple of weeks before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.

Baseball spring training means new preseason favorites and predictions for the upcoming 2011 MLB Season.

Expert 2011 Predictions

Many baseball pundits, experts and so-called experts will be publishing their predictions for the 2011 season if they haven't already. Most of their predictions for 2011 will be the result of intense scrutiny and research into the statistics and results of the 2010 season, as well as direct interviews with professional baseball players and personnel. It is important to note that their predictions for the 2011 MLB Season will have little to no bias.

My 2011 Predictions

Well, the predictions you are about to read are almost solely based on bias and little to no research. I most certainly haven't spoken to or interviewed anyone working in the MLB, but I did once buy Prince Fielder a mixed drink.

I definitely have watched my fair share of the sport over recent years and would like to think of myself as a knowledgeable fan. Which is to say, in terms of understanding baseball, I probably rank somewhere between Peter Gammons and the guy who jumps out of his seat every time a ball is popped up into the air thinking it is a home run.

As far as credentials, well, I participate in multiple Fantasy Baseball Leagues, I bought the Bill James Handbook 2011 and I pay for the MLB Extra Innings from my cable provider, if that tells you anything. Obsessed much? Yes.

With that being said, you are probably at the edge of your seat waiting to hear my predictions for the 2011 baseball season. So, without further ado, here are my 2011 MLB Predictions for the National League (NL):

Source

2011 NL Division Winners

NL East - Philadelphia Phillies

No-brainer? Of all the predictions I will make for the 2011 MLB Season, choosing the Philadelphia Phillies to win the NL East is probably the easiest, requiring little to no brain function. So, partial-brainer, you might say.

Although the Phillies did lose Jayson Werth to the Washington Nationals during the off-season and should be somewhat thin in terms of right-handed hitting, it's all about the pitching, as San Francisco can attest.

The addition of Cliff Lee to a pitching staff already featuring Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels makes Philadelphia not only the favorite for the NL East, but potentially the NL Pennant and World Series. How you like them cheese steaks?

NL East Roundup

Atlanta Braves: The Atlanta Braves should be competitive most of the season with the addition of Dan Uggla and are likely to remain in the NL Wild Card race through September. The maturation of Jason Heyward along with the health of Chipper Jones will go a long way toward the team's success.

Florida Marlins: The Florida Marlins traded away their best run producer to a division rival and should pay the price throughout 2011 and years to come. Young talent like Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton will show signs of brilliance, but not enough to carry the team.

New York Mets: The New York Mets will start the season healthy with Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran, but odds are that won't last past May and Johann Santana is unlikely to make his first start until mid June, resulting in a fairly dismal starting rotation.

Washington Nationals: The Washington Nationals who are at least another two seasons from being competitive with Stephen Strasburg on the shelf for the entire 2011 MLB season and Bryce Harper another season away from the major leagues.

Who Will Win the NL East?

See results without voting

2011 NL East Standings

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Atlanta Braves*
  3. Florida Marlins
  4. New York Mets
  5. Washington Nationals

* National League Wild Card

Who do you think will win the NL East in 2011? Answer in the poll on the right, or comment below.

Source

NL Central - Milwaukee Brewers

With the value of pitching never more evident than in 2010, the Milwaukee Brewers took an aggressive approach to the 2011 off-season trading a majority of their blue chip prospects for proven major league pitching talent in Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum.

Entering the 2011 MLB Season, the Brewers will have three 2010 Opening Day starters on their roster along (with two switching from the AL to the pitcher-friendly NL) with Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson rounding out the rotation.

Combine the refurbished pitching staff with Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks in contract seasons, along with Ryan Braun looking to bounce back from a "down" year in terms of his standards and what you have is the second best team in the NL to only the Philadelphia Phillies.

Expect new manager, Ron Roenicke, to make use of the team's speed that, under the guidance of Ken Macha, had been ignored for the past two seasons and you should see a team as equally aggressive as the Texas Rangers in 2010 during their World Series run.

Milwaukee Brewers 2011 MLB Lineup Predictions

NL Central Roundup

St. Louis Cardinals: The St. Louis Cardinals got better at shortstop in the off-season with Ryan Theriot, but otherwise did little else to improve their second-place team from a year ago. I also expect the impending free agency of Albert Pujols to become a distraction as the season wears on.

Cincinnati Reds: Everything went the Cincinnati Reds way in 2010, I just don't see it playing out that way in 2011 with Mike Leake and Travis Wood unlikely to repeat their past performances.

Chicago Cubs: The Chicago Cubs downgraded at first base from Derek Lee to Carlos Pena and have a veteran lineup prone to injury. Matt Garza is a nice addition to the pitching staff, but Carlos Zambrano will once again prove to be a headache.

Houston Astros: The Houston Astros are in a rebuilding phase with Wandy Rodriguez as the ace of the pitching staff and Carlos Lee lumbering around the outfield. While Hunter Pence is a talented baseball player, he isn't the type that can carry a MLB team.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pittsburgh Pirates, well ... they're the Pirates. Andrew McCutchen will only get better and Pedro Alvarez should be an exciting hitter, but their pitching staff is years and years away from making any noise.

Who Will Win the NL Central in 2011?

See results without voting

2011 NL Central Standings

  1. Milwaukee Brewers
  2. St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Cincinnati Reds
  4. Chicago Cubs
  5. Houston Astros
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates

Who do you think will win the NL Central in 2011? Answer in the poll to the right or comment down below. (Hint) ... It won't be the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Source

NL West - Los Angeles Dodgers

Of the three National League divisions, the NL West is definitely the hardest to predict in the 2011 MLB Season, but, in my opinion, the winner will be the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers didn't make the flashy signings or trades like the Milwaukee Brewers or Philadelphia Phillies, but did improve their pitching rotation with two solid starters, Ted Lilly and Jon Garland, that should give them a very good, if not great starting staff behind Clayton Kershaw.

LA also improved at second base with the signing of Juan Uribe and should be better at catcher with a healthy Rod Barajas starting the 2011 season. But, where they should improve the most is with a full season of health from Andre Ethier along with a clean slate for Matt Kemp, who, for whatever reason, had an odd relationship with Joe Torre despite possibly being the best overall baseball player in the division.

NL West Roundup

Colorado Rockies: The Colorado Rockies did an excellent job at solidifying the long-term success of the franchise by signing both Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to multi-year deals but did little to improve the immediate future.

San Francisco Giants: The San Francisco Giants lost both Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria in the off-season and will lean heavily on Buster Posey who could falter due to the dreaded sophomore slump. If their pitching performs at the level it did throughout August, September and October in 2010 for the whole 2011 season, they might have a chance, but ... that seems unlikely.

Arizona Diamondbacks: 2011 will be a rebuilding season after trading both Dan Haren and Mark Reynolds along with choosing not to resign Adam LaRoche, however Daniel Hudson and Joe Saunders both showed promise in the NL in the second half of 2010 and Justin Upton is still one of the most-talented young players in all of the MLB.

2011 Arizona Diamondbacks Lineup

San Diego Padres: The San Diego Padres lost Jon Garland from their rotation and, more importantly, Adrian Gonzalez from their lineup. Mat Latos could suffer from being overworked in 2010 and with little to no offense, it's hard to imagine the Padres competing in 2011.

Who Will Win the NL West in 2011?

See results without voting

2011 NL West Standings

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Colorado Rockies
  3. San Francisco Giants
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. San Diego Padres

Who do you think will win the NL West in 2011? Answer in the poll to the right or share your predictions in the comments below.

Source

2011 NL Awards

2011 NL MVP - Ryan Braun

As mentioned above in the articles intro, there will be some bias in these predictions, evidence to the fact with the Milwaukee Brewers picked as the 2011 NL Central Division Champions and Ryan Braun as the 2011 NL MVP (I am a HUGE Milwaukee Brewers fan).

2011 should be a defining season for both the Milwaukee Brewers franchise and Ryan Braun as the organization and its players should receive a lot of National attention throughout the season. No star on the team can shine brighter than Braun and I believe this is the season where he transitions from small-market superstar to National notoriety, if he hasn't already with three All-Star appearances and a 2007 NL Rookie of the Year Award.

Braun will bat third in the Brewers lineup after Rickie Weeks who had a breakout season in 2010 and is entering a contract year, Corey Hart who was an All-Star starter for the NL in 2010 and right before Prince Fielder who could possibly have the best season of his career before entering Free Agency with Scott Boras and becoming a top-paid player.

What does that mean? A ton of RBI opportunities as well as quite a few runs. He projects as a 30+ HR hitter and should return to that level this season while eclipsing his previous stolen base averages under the management of Ron Roenicke.

Ryan Braun 2011 Stats Prediction

R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
111
36
124
26
.324
Source

2011 NL Cy Young - Roy Halladay

Entering the 2011 MLB Season, the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation is likely to receive endless praise along with consideration as the best staff ever assembled in the history of baseball. The Phillies have four starting pitchers capable of competing for the Cy Young, and honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if there is some sort of friendly wager being made between the four right now. But, In the end, because he is the best, Roy Halladay will come out victorious just as he did in 2010.

Fortunately for Halladay, he doesn't have to repeat his season from 2010 in order to win the award since it was one for the ages with a perfect game along with a no-hitter in the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds.

I expect his stats in 2011 to almost mimic his 2010 effort and the internal competition in the club house to fuel the obvious competitive fire you see in Roy Halladay when he is out on the mound. With Jayson Werth no longer in the Philadelphia lineup and the status of Brad Lidge always in question, it could cost Halladay a win or two throughout the season but not enough to knock him off his perch as the league's unanimous Cy Young Winner.

2011 Roy Halladay Stats Prediction

ERA
WIN - LOSS
SO
WHIP
BAA
2.32
19-9
211
1.06
.240
Source

2011 NL ROY - Craig Kimbrel

If you read the predictions for the division winners closely, you saw that I am predicting the Atlanta Braves as the NL Wild Card winners for 2011, which obviously means 85+ wins and a lot of save opportunities for the closer chosen to replace Billy Wagner. Who will that be? Well, it's my guess it will be rookie hurler, Craig Kimbrel.

After two straight seasons of the AL Rookie of the Year being a closer (2009: Andrew Bailey; 2010: Neftali Feliz), I think it is time that the NL got into the act and Kimbrel is the perfect candidate. In fact, I expect an almost identical season from Kimbrel in 2011 as to what we saw from Feliz of the Texas Rangers in 2010.

Kimbrel doesn't have quite the control of Neftali Feliz and is unlikely to repeat his .88 WHIP from a season ago, but it is better than Carlos Marmol with almost the same potential for striking out batters. Not to mention, I expect there to be far more save opportunities for the Atlanta Braves in 2011 than the Chicago Cubs.

2011 Craig Kimbrel Stats Prediction

ERA
SV
SO
WHIP
2.60
36
92
1.10

Read my 2011 MLB Predictions - American League.

What are your predictions for the National League during the 2011 MLB Season? Which player do you think will win the NL MVP or Cy Young Award? Comment below.

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Comments 12 comments

mortgage-news profile image

mortgage-news 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Yup, it's a no brainer that the Phillies win the national league. The only question is which Phillies Ace will win the Cy Young. Halladay is a stud but I am leaning towards Cliff Lee as he rellybwanted to come back to philadelphia. However, the friendly competition is going to elevate everybody. Jason Werth will not be missed and will also be lonely in October.


dsmythe profile image

dsmythe 5 years ago

I'm a Padre fan and I think even though we lost Adrian our team is much more solid than it's been in the past few years. We have a set infield aside from spot starts at 1st, our outfield is set and plus with the veteran additions of Harang and O-dog mixed with our young kids we have a good chance at the west. The NL West has always been very squirly in the past few years and I think this year is going to be just like that again. My prediction for the NL champs is the Phillies and for the AL is the Red Sox. The Sox will be WS champions as much as I hate that team. Can we please have baseball already?


bogerk profile image

bogerk 5 years ago from Midwest Author

@Mortgage News - Agreed. The Phillies are definitely the odds on favorites to win both the NL East and the NL Championship. Halladay > Lee, just barely. It should be fun to watch.

@Dsmythe - I'm not buying into the Padres this year without Gonzalez and his HR/RBI and overall presence in the lineup. Not to mention his Gold Glove defense. I also didn't like how they faltered down the stretch in 2010. Harang is unlikely to match Garland's numbers from last season and we will have to see if Latos can dominate once again. I'm definitely skeptical, but a 4th place finish ahead of Arizona is certainly possible. For your sake, I hope I am wrong.


Brent Hale profile image

Brent Hale 5 years ago

Great article bogerk. I agree with everything except the placement of my Giants in third.

Yes they lost Uribe, but they picked up Tejada and he is basically the same player. Renteria really did not play at all last year besides the two weeks of clutch hitting he provided in the playoffs. So I don't consider the loss of Renteria as significant.

If you compare the opening day lineup from last year to this year, you will see that they have improved vastly. They will get a full year out of Posey, Ross, Freddy Sanchez, Burrell and maybe, possibly, hopefully, please God, Mark DeRosa.

Also, a full year of Madison Bumgarner only means good things. The guy is a horse. After only pitching for a couple of months in the big's, ole' Maddy B. stepped in the playoffs and pitched like a grown man. Scary stuff when you consider he's only 21 years old.

We've got a guy coming up who got through the minors more quickly and put up better numbers than Posey. His name is Brandon Belt. Don't be surprised if Belt is starting, either in left field, or at first base. Whichever one it is you'll see Huff at the other position and Burrell in a utility role. I wonder if a team has ever had back-to-back ROY's.

If everyone stays healthy, the Giants are going to be ridiculously deep. Burrell, DeRosa and Fontenot can all contribute as utility players and if someone's injured or not performing well, they are all capable of getting hot.

The last thing that to take not is that Pablo Sandoval has lost a ton of weight... and if the 2009 Pablo shows up, that would just be plain scary.

I didn't intend on writing this much, but my overbiasedness kicked in. I couldn't bare seeing that third place next to my Giants. Thanks for the awesome article.


bogerk profile image

bogerk 5 years ago from Midwest Author

@Brent -

Great comment! I'm always hesitant to count on a young pitcher repeating a phenomenal performance in back-to-back seasons, but Bumgarner was impressive last year. I also don't know if Sanchez will be able to strand quite as many runners as he did in '10.

I'm excited to see what Posey does in a full season at catcher and I hope that Sandoval returns to his 2009 numbers. Belt could be an exciting player, but I haven't heard too many people that think he will make a major impact in '11 - you never know though.

There is definitely potential with the Giants and it is hard to count out their pitching staff, I just really like what LA did in the offseason and I think the Rockies are a team that are going to be in it until the last week of the season.


Brent Hale profile image

Brent Hale 5 years ago

The Rockies worry me as well. The NL West is strange. Nobody guessed the division would finish the way it did... except me. But then again, I've been predicting a Giants NL pennant and world series title for the past 25 years.


jonzy 5 years ago

phillies a no brainer?? hmmmmm thats way too crazy to say. there pitching staff is good but also old. you have to think about injuries. i feel oswald, halladay, and lee are past their prime. the braves are stacking up quick with the addition of uggla. there offense is looking scary. with prado, heyward, jones, uggla, mccann, freddie freeman, nate mclouth. plus their pitching is no pushover. with hudson, lowe, hanson as their top three. including the new rookie closer and additions like scott linebrink and sherril to the bullpen. i think alot of philly fans are going to be dissappointed.


bogerk profile image

bogerk 5 years ago from Midwest Author

@jonzy -

I think the Atlanta Braves will have a very good season and are in good position to win the Wild Card. But, the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff is far superior to the Braves. Also, like Brad Lidge or not, he is an established closer, something the Braves don't have.

It would be hard to say the Braves offense is scary because of McClouth or Freddie Freeman. McClouth was terrible last season and Freeman is a rookie. Also, if you expect a full season from Jones or anything close to it you then have to expect a full season for Rollins, Utley and Howard on the Phillies who each missed significant time last season.

In the end I see Atlanta being good, but Philadelphia is great.


Fullerman5000 profile image

Fullerman5000 5 years ago from Louisiana, USA

Again, great hub. You really know your baseball. Im impressed.


froggywentacourtin 5 years ago

I see Atlanta ending Philadelphia's reign of terror and will reclaim the NL East. The Mets and Marlins could contend for the division or a wild card and the Nationals need more than Strassburg as far as pitching is concerned. The Central looks pretty intersting. If the Cardinals can stay healthy, they will take the Central by Labor Day. Cincinnati and Milwaukee are going to be good but not great, Houston could be a threat in the Central and the Pirates... Please! They haven't had a winning season since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden. San Francisco will repeat as NL West Champs, although that division looks a lot tougher than some would think. San Diego looked good but faded and so did Colorado. The Dodgers are a toss up, given what going on with that team off the field (the nasty divorce) and Arizona needs a little more pitching to even come close.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

As much as I would like to see the Brewers win the NL Central, I don't think it's going to happen. Although the starting pitching looks good on paper, Gallardo and Wolf were both inconsistent in 2010. The closer, Axford, is also suspect because he is often so wild walking batters. I think the Reds are a better bet to repeat because they have better pitching, especially a closer in Cordero whom the Brewers wouldn't resign.


Malchiah profile image

Malchiah 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California

You were right, the Phillies are the EASIEST prediction in baseball. Enough about that. You seemed to have nailed the Wild Card and the Central winners as well (Braves, Brewers respectively), but the Dodgers? Ok, it's easy to use hindsight now as it looks like Arizona is running away with the West -that sound you hear is the Giants crashlanding in the West, but I'm not sure they would have been the pick in the first place. They had/have serious pitching issues and a shaky bullpen. But very nicely done, both National and American leagues.

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