By Phil Bausk

Football is a game of inches, Basketball is a game of egos, Hockey is a game of white people, and Baseball is a game of numbers. No sport’s outcome is determined by statistics as much as America’s past time is, and men (though not many) like Bill James have sculpted Hall of Fame careers out of analyzing the numbers over and over, transforming the game into what it has become today.

While I am not expert at Sabermetrics, nor am I relatively competent when it comes to them, I find that through my years of watching, playing, and obsessing over baseball, I have concocted some decent forecasts about how a season might unfold. During this time of sports limbo, where professional basketball and hockey reign supreme, at least until the Big East Tournament starts,  baseball fans and restless football fans are filling their brains with the countless Spring Training articles, hoping that this year will be the year their team makes it to October.

I was at work today when someone sent me an outrageous GChat telling me that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had come back to wrestling. While his life changing movies, such as The Tooth Fairy and Doom, led me to become the man I am today, I was more excited to see him back inside a WWE (World Wildlife Fund should be extinct at this point) ring. In addition, this past week’s episode of Glee was titled “Comebacks,” as Rachel Berry, Will Schuster, and Sue Sylvester all were attempting to makes separate comebacks in their personal lives. Now, I understand if no one really knows what I just said, and if you don’t, read this piece I wrote earlier this year, and perhaps your life will become that much better since watching Glee, as mine has  exponentially improved.

This inspired me to make somewhat of a comeback of my own. While I have made predictions in the last year or so in conversations with friends and such, I have never put these predictions down on paper, or the World Wide Web. This year it will start with the upcoming MLB season, running through each division, giving you the order of which the teams will finish, the All-Division team by position, and which three prospects that will make the biggest impact this season with the big league club. Due to the fact that most people I know are New York Mets fans and can always use some sort of an emotional pick me up, I will start this year’s set of predictions with the distorted mess that is the National League East.

National League East 2011 Projected Finish

1. Philadelphia Phillies

2. Atlanta Braves

3. New York Mets

4. Florida Marlins

5. Washington Nationals

NL East All-Division Team

C: Brian McCann, ATL

1B: Ryan Howard, PHI

2B: Chase Utley, PHI

SS: Hanley Ramirez, FLA

3B: Ryan Zimmerman, WSH

OF: Jason Bay, NYM, Jason Heyward, ATL, Mike Stanton, FLA

SP: Josh Johnson, FLA, Roy Halladay, PHI, Cliff Lee, PHI, Tommy Hanson, ATL, Johan Santana NYM

RP: Drew Storen, WSH, Francisco Rodriguez NYM,  Ryan Madson PHI

3 Impact Prospects: Logan Morrison FLA, Dominic Brown PHI, Jenry Mejia NYM

A lot has happened in this division in the past few months. Cliff Lee spurned the Yankees and the Rangers, and decided to rejoin the Phillies, a team that didn’t really need his “talents.” Lee makes the Phillies rotation almost unbeatable in a playoff series, though I think Roy Oswalt is going to be in for a tough season. However, the trio of Halladay, Lee, and  Cole Hamels will be enough to stifle the bats of the NL East, and most of the entire National League. Their offense, though not as explosive as they were a couple years ago, will score enough runs to win around 95 games, and take home the NL East crown.

However, while many are handing the NL East to the Phillies before opening day, I do think they will be in for a dogfight with the always consistent Atlanta Braves. The Braves sport a very respectable rotation and a well rounded lineup, though questions in the bullpen may ultimately derail their season. The New York Mets are the most intriguing team in this division.

We have a fair assessment of how the Phillies and Braves  respective season’s will shake out, but the Mets season can go any which way. Johan Santana is coming off surgery, Jose Reyes is in a contract year and trying to fight the injury bug, David Wright is a male model, Carlos Beltran doesn’t want to keep getting yelled at on the 7 train, the new stadium is a treasure trove for child molesters, Mike Pelfrey’s bipolar disorder on the field could lead to interesting antics off the  field, and K-Rod can choke someone out on 2nd base and no one would be surprised. Though I do think Jason Bay will have a really solid season at the plate, I do not think everything will pan out for the Mets this season, and if all of that young talent in Florida meshes well, the Mets could be fighting off the Nationals for the cellar in the division.

Speaking of those Marlins, it seems as if they are in the same spot every single year, almost like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” only without Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You, Babe” on repeat on the stadium’s sound system. Young outfielders Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison will provide some quality production, as well as some highlight reel plays to amuse the 400 season ticket holders down in South Beach. Josh Johnson returns from a Josh Beckettesque back injury, and if healthy, I think he will be the best pitcher in the division. An added bonus for the Marlins would be if The Akron Scammer shows up to any games. I am sure his entourage alone can fill up the seats behind Home Plate, but Lebron isn’t the kind of guy to create any distractions away from the game, so he”ll probably just watch the  Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals from his couch in June. I wonder if Jim Gray will be invited to watch with him.

That leaves us with the Washington Nationals. They spend over a hundred million dollars to bring in a plus 30 year old outfielder in Jayson Werth. It was a good decision on Werth’s side, and a necessary act of desperation on the Nats side. Werth will get his numbers, and muddle through Washington until Stephen Strasburg is healthy and Bryce Harper hits puberty. Werth may be 34 at that point, but who cares, they took baseball out of Canada, and brought it back to D.C. That has to count for something right?

  1. Edward Jones says:

    Are you freaking kidding about the Mets? Either you are unaware of the entire division or are a Mets homer. The Mets aren’t the 3rd best team; Santana is out for half a season and no one knows how he’ll be when he returns, so he isn’t likely to be healthy enough to be good enough to be on the All-Division team; Jason Bay? Really?; Everyone that took a good look at Mejia sees that he needs to be back in AAA until he develops more pitches to hide his very flat and predictable fastball. I hope that this isn’t a credible source because this is a joke. Everyone else sees the Mets as a 4th place team at best and a serious possibility to be at the bottom of the division. Terrible analysis.

    • MalteseFalcon says:

      Ironically Ed Jones is unaware of the division if he thinks the Mets are at best a 4th place team and will fight to be out of 5th. You’re entire argument has more holes than swiss cheese. You do realize if healthy the mets have one of the best 1-6 hitters in the NL right? Its at least top 5 IF they stay healthy. Reyes/Pagan/Wright/Beltran/Bay/Ike is tough to beat. No one was healthy on this team last year, YET they still won 79 games. The offense finished 3rd from the bottom, so if everyone stays healthy, that in itself will lead to more wins. Sandy upgraded the bullpen with a plethora of arms, although losing Feliciano will hurt, but can be replaced by a left specialist who can get people out. The rotation is what is going to hamper this team from winning in the upper 80s. Santana is gone, and its tough to ask Dickey to duplicate what he did last year. Still though, every pitcher in our rotation has can (and has already proven, save Dickey) that they can put up ERAs in the upper 3 to low 4. Coupled with all that you still don’t think this team has improved from last year? Even Bill James did a WAR analysis of our players and he has us pegged at about 83-87 wins. You think the Nats will finish ahead of the Mets? With what offense and pitching? I’ll give you Zimmerman and Livan, but everyone else is garbage. Marlins have a good shot to finish ahead of them, but the team is very young, and their rotation has been very inconsistent (although it could be great) save JJ.

  2. jay says:

    The Mets are the worst team in the NLEast.

  3. Ivan says:

    How do some of these people get journalism jobs? This is the worst and most biased article I have ever seen. This belongs in a place like Mets blog or some other site for blind homers. The journalist is lost.

    We see another delusional Mets fan also show himself. Did Maltese Falcon really say that the Mets have one of the best 1-6 hitters in the NL? Did he say something about the Mets adding a plethora of arms for the bullpen? The Mets lineup isn’t as good as the other teams in their division and I missed seeing the plethora of arms for their bullpen. Who are they? Does he not see the same team that we all see? Does he not see what the other teams have?

    The Journalist looks bad and the other Mets fan here looks bad. They make other Mets fans look really bad.

    • MalteseFalcon says:

      Ivan, I love how you call out my comment, yet you use ZERO evidence to support your claim. Name 5 other teams in the NL that have a better 1-6 hitters than the Mets? I’d bet the farm you can’t. All I said it was top 5 in the NL (1-6 hitters that is), and it is. Results back me up on this. So point fail #1.

      You realize the Mets statistically had a top 5 bullpen last year right? Sandy added 6-8 arms to compete for the last spots for the bullpen. ‘Plethora’ by definition means a lot of. Doesn’t mean they’re talented, just quantity. Carrasco, Beato, Byrdak, Izzy, Tankersley, Buchholz, Capuano. Point fail #2.

      But its ok you can be a moronic, delusional fan and refuse to look at the statistics that are in front of you. Your entire argument is a clusterfuc* of a failure. Come back and get some evidence to support your claim.

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