For the second part of my baseball preview installment, let’s look at the National League.
1. Philadelphia Phillies – Head of the class in the National League with the best pitching staff since the 1971 Baltimore Orioles
Storyline: As with the Red Sox, will the Phillies live up to expectations?
Player to watch: Domonic Brown – Surgery set him back 4-6 weeks, but will he make up for the loss of Jayson Werth?
2. Atlanta Braves – New skipper Fredi Gonzalez has big shoes to fill after Bobby Cox retires.
Storyline: How will new closer Craig Kimbrel handle his new role taking over for Billy Wagner?
Player to watch: Freddie Feeman – Will the rookie first baseman have the same success that Jason Heyward had a year ago?
3. Florida Marlins – Young team with a lot of promise
Storyline: Will the Marlins young core be able to win like the teams of the past?
Player to watch: Mike Stanton – The young outfielder is going to be a household name by the end of the year.
4. New York Mets – Proof that money doesn’t buy championships.
Storyline: Will the pitching staff hold up with Johan Santana on the shelf?
Player to watch: Jason Bay – Bay had a tough time adjusting to Citi Field last season. Will he regain his All-Star form?
5. Washington Nationals – Improved team, but a long way to go.
Storyline: The Nationals raised eyebrows with their huge contract to Jayson Werth. Will he live up to it?
Player to watch: Stephen Strasburg – Out for the season, but Nationals fans will be keeping a close eye on his progress throughout the year.
1. Cincinnati Reds – Reigning champs look to keep their foot on the gas.
Storyline: With an elite rotation, will the Reds keep Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen?
Player to watch: Joey Votto – National League MVP looks to prove last year wasn’t a fluke.
2. St. Louis Cardinals – Cardinals look to regain the top team status that they’ve held so long in the division.
Storyline: Will the Albert Pujols talk be a distraction throughout the season?
Player to watch: Lance Berkman – How will the “Big Puma” handle the transition back to the outfield?
3. Milwaukee Brewers – Brewers go all-in to make a championship run this season.
Storyline: Will Prince Fielder become a distraction if the team starts to lose?
Player(s) to watch: Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum – Will the newly acquired pitchers dominate in the National League after success in the American League?
4. Chicago Cubs – Underachieving, overpaid players look to turn things around under new full-time skipper.
Storyline: Will Carlos Pena be the next overpaid player to underachieve in Chicago?
Player to watch – Aramis Ramirez – If Ramirez can stay healthy, the Cubs have a shot to compete.
5. Houston Astros – Astros look to develop young talent.
Storyline: Which Wandy Rodriguez will show up this season?
Player to watch: Hunter Pence – Will Pence be able to carry this team offensively?
6. Pittsburgh Pirates – 18 consecutive years and counting.
Storyline: Will new manager Clint Hurdle be able to give Pirate fans hope despite lack of pitching?
Player to watch: Pedro Alvarez – Look for Alvarez to capitalize on a promising rookie campaign by becoming an elite power threat and by cutting down on his strikeouts.
1. San Francisco Giants – Was their World Series a fluke? The Giants look to prove they are more than a one-year wonder.
Storyline: We know the pitching is elite, but who will step up offensively?
Player to watch – Buster Posey – A superstar developing before our eyes.
2. Colorado Rockies – With a perfect balance of pitching and offense, the Rockies look to make another Rock-tober run.
Storyline: Will Troy Tulowitzki live up to the huge contract the Rockies gave him?
Player to watch – Carlos Gonzalez – If you didn’t know him last year, he’ll make sure you do this year.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers – Can new manager Don Mattingly right the ship in L.A.?
Storyline: Will Matt Kemp live up to potential this year or continue to regress?
Player to watch – Andre Ethier – If he can stay healthy, look for Ethier to be an MVP candidate at the end of the season.
4. San Diego Padres – After proving the doubters wrong last year coming within a game of the playoffs, can the Padres shock the world again?
Storyline: Will the pitching staff be as dominate as last season or have teams figured them out?
Player to watch: Cameron Maybin – A can’t miss prospect in Florida, well, missed, but looks for a second chance in San Diego
5. Arizona Diamondbacks – Struggling franchise looks to rejuvenate itself with youth.
Storyline: Will the offense be able to produce enough for thin pitching staff?
Player to watch: Justin Upton – Upton is a 5-tool player who is looking to rebound after a down year. I wouldn’t bet against him.
National League Champions: Philadelphia Phillies
World Series Champions:
Philadelphia Phillies over Boston Red Sox, 4 games to 3
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com