Happy Saturday everyone. As the Nats' Yunesky Maya takes on the Braves' Derek Lowe, I thought today would be as good a time as any to make some end of season predictions. As the Braves fight to stay alive in the playoff race, Capitol Baseball is going to tackle division winners, the wild card winner, and individual winners for the 2010 season in the National League. We'll start with division predictions.
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies. As much as it pains me to admit, the Phillies are just way, way too good. They have Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels: among the best 1, 2, 3 pitchers in all of baseball. Their position players are approaching healthy, and Brad Lidge looks like the Brad Lidge of old. I don't see any way that the Phils don't claim the division in the next day or two.
NL Central: Cincinatti Reds. This one is easy. The Reds are in 1st by 6.5 games in the Central with just over a week left in the season. They'll clinch very soon.
NL West: San Francisco Giants. I had to weigh this one over and over and over again. The Padres at one point this year were the best team in the National League. Then they experienced a 10 game losing streak that destroyed their lead in the west. And the Giants have looked nearly unbeatable over the last few weeks. They are currently ahead of the Padres by 1/2 game, and I'm not saying the lead won't go back and forth a few times. But that Giants rotation with the resurence of guys like Huff and Burrell, plus the addition of Buster Posey (more on him later), the Giants will winn the NL West this season.
NL Wild Card: San Diego Padres. As an NL East guy (obviously), I would have liked to see Bobby Cox get the playoffs in his final season. And the Braves looked like they were going to do just that. They led the Phillies by 6.5 games at one point, but have completely disintegrated since then. They got trounced by the Nationals on Friday night, and just one more loss with a Phillies win will eliminate them from the pennant contention. I think the Padres still have enough confidence to pull out the Wild Card spot.
Here are my individual predictions:
NL MVP: Carlos Gonzalez. I almost picked Pujols here, but if you look at CarGo, it's hard to not love his story and surge this year. Yes, he plays in Coors Field, but numbers don't lie. As of today, he's hitting .340, with .606 slugging %. He leads the NL with 113 RBIk. The only stat that he hasn't dominated is home runs, the stat that is helped most by playing at Coors. He still has 33, landing him firmly in the top 5 in the NL in homers. While it can certainly still be Pujols, because he is the best offensive player in baseball, I think the honors will go to Gonzalez this year.
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay. I don't think there's any question about this. The Philies are going to win the NL East, he has 20 wins, his ERA is 3rd best in the NL. Josh Johnson and Adam Wainwright have lower ERAs, and Wainwright is 20-11. But Halladay is a primary reason that the Phillies are going to the playoffs, and the Cardinals aren't going to the playoffs. So like it or not, fair or not, I think that eliminates Wainwright from the conversation.
NL Rookie of the Year: Buster Posey. To me, there's no question about this. I know that it's possible that Jaime Garcia or Jason Heyward have a better chance. Garcia's 2.70 ERA and 13 wins his rookie year is remarkable. Heyward's solid play in the outfield and pretty good .282 average and very good .398 on-base % place him high on the list. But Buster Posey as the starting catcher for the San Francisco Giants. Posey is hitting .320 and 16 home runs. He spent a large part of the season waiting for Bengie Molina to move out of the way. Once he did, he became the spark behind the Giants surge into 1st place in the NL West. Without Posey behind the plate, I don't think there is any chance the Giants would be in the position that they are. He deserves the award.
So there are my predictions. I'm going to try to make some AL predictions within the next 48 hours, too. I know I'll get one right, as the Twins have already clinched, but be sure to leave your comments, thoughts, and disagreements in the comments section.