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2011 National League Preview

Posted By Michael Waterloo On Mar 14 2011 @ 3:57 pm In MLB | 8 Comments

For the second part of my baseball preview installment, let’s look at the National League.

National League:

East -

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.

Central-

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.

West:

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

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