Tuesday, August 7, 2007

NL Playoff Picture

The last two World Series representatives have proved their success was no fluke as they battle for the being the #1 seed in the NL. Atlanta this season doesn't have a dominating rotation, but they are all solid. They also boast the best rated bullpen in the league. Their offense is the most well rounded in the league, they rank among the top teams in HRs, OBP, and SB. You can't focus on keeping the ball in the park or keeping their speedsters from stealing to beat them. If they have a weakness it is that they don't have that one batter or one pitcher that strikes fear in the other team.

Hartford is polar opposite to Atlanta, they don't steal and just pummel teams with their lineup. It really revolves around three imposing hitters that can hit any pitcher. Even though they play in one of the best hitter parks, they have two pitchers vying for a Cy Young award. A weakness has to be their closer, he's 0-12 and has only converted 70% of his saves. And how can Carlos Johnson only be 24 years old?

Apologies to
Richmond, but Houston is about the only team that is in striking distance of getting one of the coveted top two seeds. They have the best .OPS in the NL, and if season ended today they would have 5 silver sluggers. They sure don't seem to be regretting making the trade for Tim Smith this year, he's having another all-star season and can single handedly win games. He's not a one man show though; they have 6 guys that will get 100+ RBI this season.

Richmond has quietly been one of the most consistent teams in the league. For the fourth time in five seasons they will get 90+ wins. Pitching is what separates this team from the pack along with being one of the best defensive rated teams, but don't ignore their offense. Its really a three man show with this lineup, but they each bring something different. Al Pena is one of the best all round players in the game, Enrique Ruiz is starting to live up to his potential, and Jim Stewart is raw power.

Barring something spectacular
Austin is probably the only team that has an outside chance of catching the current Wild card leaders. Their pitching outside of Ralph Taylor needs to step it up a notch and finding a consistent run producer to go with Gus Andrews would help. Speaking of Andrews he must be the most unheralded superstar in the league. Take his four best seasons and he's averaged 60Hrs and 155 RBIs, and his only award in his career.

Colorado Springs is trying to break the stranglehold Arizona has had on the NL West every season. They play with a solid lineup from top to bottom, but no all-stars. Brent Oswalt has to win the award for playing out of his mind, a borderline ML talent with 2 season of +7 ERA this year in 26 starts he has a 3.67 ERA.

Arizona like always is going to pin its hopes on Doug Connelly and Dick Yeats, an impressive 1-2 punch but they might be starting to show their age. Their pitchers are statistically an average group, and in another HBD relief pitcher oddity their closer has a 6.00 ERA, yet has converted 93% of his save opportunities.

NL North - Due to some recent long losing streaks
Toronto and Cincinnati have really just about fallen out of the race. Cleveland has some very good RPs and a couple of nice sluggers that hit behind perennial all-star CF Goya. St. Louis might only have one above average offensive player on their team, they don't really have power or speed, but that is still an impressive trio of SPs followed by a just as impressive group of RPs. For all the ridicule this division has taken for its winner potentially having a losing record it would be unwise for a team that meets either of these teams in the playoffs to take them lightly.

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