Kimani Gregoire: I picked the Washington Nationals to win the NL East last year. Unfortunately, they had a disappointing season, winning 86 games and finishing 10 games back of the Atanta Braves. I guess I haven’t learned my lesson because I’m picking the Nats to win the division again this year. And why not? Unlike the other teams in the NL East the Nationals have no glaring weakness. With Doug Fister (acquired from the Detroit Tigers) to go along with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez, the Nationals have far and away the best starting rotation in the division.
Their bullpen is very solid; anchored by Rafael Soriano (the closer had 43 saves last season). If healthy, they have a deep lineup with plenty of power. Ryan Zimmerman helps to be over the shoulder issues that plagued him the last few seasons, Jayson Werth was top-5 in slugging and on-base percentages in the NL, and Anthony Rendon is one of the best young second basemen in the game. I also expect a bounce back year from first baseman Adam LaRoche and a MVP-caliber season from third-year man Bryce Harper (who started last season on fire before injuring himself after running into the wall and was never quite the same). And I love the addition of outfielder Nate McLouth, who will strengthen their bench. This year I would be really really shocked if the Nationals won less than 90 games in 2014!
MLB 2014: Who will win the NL East?
- Washington Nationals (53%, 39 Votes)
- Atlanta Braves (32%, 24 Votes)
- NY Mets (7%, 5 Votes)
- Philadelphia Phillies (5%, 4 Votes)
- Miami Marlins (3%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 74
St Louis Cardinals
Adam Solowiei: Why St Louis? This organization knows how to field a balanced team. The David Freese trade did two things for the Cardinals. First it allowed Matt Carpenter to move to third and made room for talented youngster Kolten Wong at second base. Secondly the trade brought in Peter Bourjos, a very talented outfielder. The Cardinals offense is more than sufficient.
A rotation of Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Jaime Garcia is formidable. Joe Kelly could also crack the top-5 if the Cardinals have interest in relegating Lance Lynn or Jaime Garcia to the bullpen. Their bullpen is full of talented youngsters including closer Trevor Rosenthal. To expect the Cardinals to repeat as NL Central champs should not be a shock.
Adam Solowiei: Why Pittsburgh? Reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen leads the way with Starling Marte patrolling left field and Gregory Polanco is waiting for his chance. A deep and talented outfield with the power bat of Pedro Alvarez will keep them in games.
If Francisco Liriano can continue his 2013 form coupled with Gerrit Cole and Jeff Locke then the front three of the rotation are solid. The addition of Edinson Volquez will add to the veteran presence of Wandy Rodriguez and Charlie Morton. Yet one of those spots will likely be filled with youngster Jameson Taillon soon enough. This is a solid team that has been patient for years and appears to be around for a while.
MLB 2014: Who will win the NL Central?
- Cardinals (59%, 43 Votes)
- Pirates (27%, 20 Votes)
- Reds (10%, 7 Votes)
- Cubs (3%, 2 Votes)
- Brewers (1%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 73
Jen Rainwater: In the case of the National League Western Division my vote, along with the other eight of my colleagues, went to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers won the NL West and made it to the National League Championship Series in 2013. Ultimately defeated in the NLCS by the St. Louis Cardinals, the Dodgers are looking to take it all the way in 2014. Offensively the first four hitters in their line-up, OF Carl Crawford, OF Yasiel Puig, SS Hanley Ramirez and 1B Adrian Gonzalez, all have the potential to bat close to or over.300 on the year. That alone, with their being very little competition in the NL West, could give the Dodgers the advantage to win the division. Add to that a rock-solid bullpen being held down by three former closers, Brandon League, Brian Wilson and newly-signed Chris Perez, plus their biggest strength an almost unstoppable starting rotation led by two-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke, Los Angeles is a virtual lock to be the NL West champs in 2014.
MLB 2014: Who will win the NL West?
- Dodgers (71%, 51 Votes)
- Giants (13%, 9 Votes)
- Diamondbacks (10%, 7 Votes)
- Padres (6%, 4 Votes)
- Rockies (1%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 72
Brain Podoll: A lack of consensus among our crew of writers led to 1st baseman Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks and centerfielder Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates sharing the predicted honors of National League MVP for 2014. This is not going very far out on a limb from the outcome of the 2013 actual voting, when Goldschmidt finished third to McCutchen on the BBWA ballot. Both players have much to offer in making a case for 2014.
A huge, right-handed slugger who also won last year’s NL Gold Glove at first base, the 26-year old Goldschmidt is on the verge of entering his prime. In his progression to the majors, he has been the MVP of the California and Southern Leagues, so it is not a stretch to project the 2013 NL home run and RBI champion’s potential achievement for this coming season. It was prescient that he wears number 44, as he was last year’s NL Hank Aaron Award winner to go with a Silver Slugger Award for his trophy case.
The compact, five-tool package that is the dreadlocked McCutchen returns as the reigning NL MVP and has clearly established his credentials over the past three seasons. Remarkably, the right-handed hitting Silver Slugger was only a 2013 All-Star reserve for the third straight season, so playing for the surprising Pirates has yet to match fan recognition with his superlative versatility. Like Goldschmidt, the speedy “Cutch” at age 27 is entering his prime and while he did not repeat his 2012 Gold Glove out in center field, his defensive reputation is without question.
While there may be a handful of other contenders for the 2014 NL MVP honors, look for the powerful Goldschmidt and multi-faceted McCutchen to rise above the rest.
MLB 2014: Who will win the NL MVP?
- Andrew McCutchen (21%, 13 Votes)
- Bryce Harper (18%, 11 Votes)
- Yadier Molina (15%, 9 Votes)
- Paul Goldschmidt (13%, 8 Votes)
- Other (please comment) (11%, 7 Votes)
- Yasiel Puig (10%, 6 Votes)
- Joey Votto (7%, 4 Votes)
- Hanley Ramirez (5%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 61
NL Cy Young
Wesley Dotson: Even though my 2014 NL Cy Young Award pick was Marlins SP Jose Fernandez, who burst onto the scene last season at age 20 (12-6, 2.19 ERA), it is hard to argue with the consensus pick of reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw went 16-9 last season and posted a 1.83 ERA, an average good enough to win his third-straight ERA title. He has already won two Cy Young Awards and has a career record of 77-46 with a 2.60 ERA and 1206 strikeouts. The southpaw is considered the best pitcher in the league and was recently rewarded as such when he signed a record-setting seven year, $215 million contract extension with the Dodgers on January 15th. The best part? He is only 25 years old and could still be on the rise to his peak. Expect more of the same from Clayton Kershaw as he strives to defend his Cy Young Award status in 2014.
MLB 2014: Who will win the NL Cy Young?
- Clayton Kershaw (51%, 27 Votes)
- Other (please comment) (23%, 12 Votes)
- Jose Fernandez (11%, 6 Votes)
- Stephen Strasburg (11%, 6 Votes)
- Jordan Zimmerman (4%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 53
NL Wild Cards
Rich Stowe: When it comes to Wild Cards, the National League is as tough to figure out as the American League. Though there were two clear choices for the AL Wild Card spots, that wasn’t the case here. One clear choice was made (the Atlanta Braves) but the writers split their votes among the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, and Reds. It basically comes down to who you think will win their respective division and who will finish second. The writers believe the Braves will come in second to the Nationals in the NL East but have a good enough record to gain a Wild Card berth. It is the remaining divisions where the votes are split. Three NL Central teams have a shot (not too bad for the division that was once considered the weakest in all of baseball) and it seems the team the writers believe that will be second in the NL West will have a shot as well. No matter how the NL Wild Cards shake out, the home stretch in September should definitely be interesting!
MLB 2014: Who will win the NL Wild Cards (pick 2)?
- Braves (32%, 30 Votes)
- Pirates (15%, 14 Votes)
- Diamondbacks (13%, 12 Votes)
- Cardinals (11%, 10 Votes)
- Giants (11%, 10 Votes)
- Reds (9%, 9 Votes)
- Nationals (5%, 5 Votes)
- Other (please comment) (5%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 52
NLCS and NL World Series Representative
Rich Stowe: The writers believe the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Nationals will be the two best teams in the NL this season; and who can blame them. They both have fantastic pitching staffs and every day players – many Cy Young and MVP candidates abound on both rosters. A matchup of Clayton Kershaw versus Stephen Strasburg in the NLCS is intriguing and I’m looking forward to seeing what Yasiel Puig and Bryce Harper can do on the big stage. The writers have the Dodgers advancing however in what one can only assume will be a tough series.
MLB 2014: Which teams will play in the NLCS (pick 2)?
- Dodgers (35%, 39 Votes)
- Cardinals (21%, 24 Votes)
- Nationals (20%, 23 Votes)
- Braves (9%, 10 Votes)
- Other (please comment) (7%, 8 Votes)
- Pirates (6%, 7 Votes)
- Diamondbacks (2%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 66
NL World Series Representative
MLB 2014: Who will play in the World Series for the NL?
- Dodgers (44%, 27 Votes)
- Other (please comment) (37%, 23 Votes)
- Nationals (19%, 12 Votes)
Total Voters: 62
2014 World Series Winner
Rich Stowe: The writers have the Detroit Tigers and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series for the 2014 MLB season. Verlander versus Kershaw. Puig versus Cabrera. Puig versus Verlander. Cabrera versus Kershaw. This could be a matchup for the ages. I see this World Series going a full seven games. The writers have the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the 2014 World Series behind arguably the best arm in the game in Clayton Kershaw.
MLB 2014: Who will win the 2014 World Series?
- Other (please comment) (28%, 19 Votes)
- Dodgers (27%, 18 Votes)
- Tigers (16%, 11 Votes)
- Athletics (15%, 10 Votes)
- Nationals (12%, 8 Votes)
- Rangers (1%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 67
So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts and predictions? Please feel free to make your own predictions in the comments below and please be sure to vote in each poll that followed each section above.