Another Handful of Predictions

Yesterday I offered some predictions for every team in the American League and today I’ll look at the National League:

National League East
Atlanta Braves – Slugger Mark Teixeira will mash another 13-15 home runs from now until season’s end giving him a fourth straight 30-HR season. This is filed under Atlanta because that’s obviously where he is right now. Though despite the prevailing thought that Atlanta is going to get rid him, there are also reports to the contrary… Maligned outfielder Jeff Francoeur will catch fire for a good month and a half at some point in the 2nd half and still end up with >20 HRs.

Florida MarlinsCody Ross continues to hit well with eight home runs and a .280+ batting average in the 2nd half. Don’t forget that he hit 12 home runs and had a 1.064 OPS in 173 at-bats last year… Outfielder Jeremy Hermida turns it up in the 2nd half, as he did in 2007, and posts .800+ OPS… Scott Olsen will frustrate owners with his inconsistency, but post a second half ERA right around the 3.84 he put together prior to the break. Spot-starting or cutting your losses on Olsen after a string of shaky starts is a bad move. Ride him until October…

New York Mets – To hear some talk about his season, you’d think that Johan Santana was 4-11 with a 4.50 ERA instead of 8-7 with a 3.10 ERA. He was blown up a bit by the Reds in his first post-break start and I think it opens up a prime buy-low opportunity (low relative to Johan). I like him for a sub-3.00 ERA with 10 wins… John Maine should rack up some wins, but at a >4.00 ERA cost to your team… Carlos Beltran quietly put up a solid first half, but things will get even better in the second half with a .900+ OPS and a 25 HR-25 SB tally.

Philadelphia Phillies – With that high-octane offense, Pedro Feliz is left to do his thing in obscurity and he’ll match his first half output with another 12 home runs from here on out… The surprise in that Phillies’ offense has been the fact that Jimmy Rollins is having a pedestrian season by his standards. He won’t reach his 2007 heights of excellence, but an .850+ OPS in the second half is in store… Brett Myers will return from his stint in the minors and give the Phillies a sub-4.25 ERA in their rotation.

Washington Nationals – The season has been a pretty huge bust from an offensive standpoint as it seems anytime someone starts producing for the Nats, he gets hurt shortly thereafter. Austin Kearns finally appears to be healthy and should enjoy a solid, if unspectacular second half with eight home runs and a .750+ OPS… Who would have thought that the Nationals would have four rosterable starting pitchers? Jason Bergmann, John Lannan, Odalis Perez and Tim Redding have been legit middle/back of the rotation starters. Lannan and Bergmann will be the best bets out of that group going forward.

National League Central
Chicago Cubs – Two of the biggest surprises for the Cubs this season have been Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto. Dempster moved back to the rotation after serving as a closer for several years and has produced great results with a 3.25 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. That said, I suspect he’ll get bumped around the rest of the way to the tune of a 4.00+ ERA… Soto has also been amazing with 16 home runs and a .876 OPS in his debut campaign. His second half won’t be as fruitful as he will post <.800 OPS.

Cincinnati Reds – This was supposed to be a breakout season for Edwin Encarnacion and a strong second half will allow him to deliver on that preseason promise. He will set a career high in home runs with his next one and he has .293 or better in every month but May, so he is going to get the average above that career .272 mark. An .800+ OPS and 10+ HRs are in store for EE the rest of the way… With a completely dominant first half, Edinson Volquez all but assured himself a great season, but non-keeper leaguers should sell high as Volquez is going to start getting punished for that colossal walk rate (4.3p9). He will have an ERA north of 4.00 in his remaining starts.

Houston Astros – Starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez hasn’t COMPLETELY fixed his home/road splits issues, but he has greatly improved them and it’s benefited him very nicely with a 3.31 ERA/1.29 WHIP in 81.7 innings. Expect more of the same the rest of the way with a <3.50 ERA as the new ace of the Astros. Hunter Pence has been maddeningly inconsistent this year, but his end of season numbers will look alright come October. Look for a second half .800+ OPS and 10 home runs.

Milwaukee BrewersPrince Fielder set the bar pretty high for himself with 50 home runs last year which is why his 16 HR and .845 OPS from the first half is “disappointing”, but he will make amends with a .950+ OPS and 20 home runs from here on out… Dave Bush is putting it all together lately with his very strong recent stretch. His first half numbers of 4.39 ERA/1.15 WHIP resemble the 4.41 ERA/1.14 WHIP season totals from 2006. He could be amazing if he strand some runners (just 66% LOB% this season) and that’s why owners looking at his WHIP expect great things. The LOB problem has always been an issue and given his lengthy record with it, he will be turning back into a pumpkin before too long. Sell high.

Pittsburgh PiratesXavier Nady is a classic fade player with an OPS 98 points lower after the break in the past three seasons (.831 to .733), but I have a feeling he’s poised to stay strong during this second half with an .875+ OPS. An .875 mark would still be a 30-point drop, but definitely within reason and good enough to avoid that perennial fade… One thing you can usually count on is a good batting average from Freddy Sanchez which makes his .230 from this season all the more disappointing. He will get right in the second half with a .300+ AVG from here on out… This next one is a gut feeling with absolutely no statistical backing behind it, but I think Ian Snell will have a sub-4.50 ERA the rest of the way. I know 4.50 is hardly Cy Young material, but considering that he is currently at 5.83, it’s a marked improvement.

St. Louis Cardinals – Though not expected back until August, Adam Wainwright is going to give his fantasy owners a strong homestretch push with a <3.25 ERA and six wins… Several people seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop with respect to Ryan Ludwick‘s Cinderella season, but I don’t think he’s going to fade. He’s got another 15 home runs and a .900+ OPS in the tank.

National League West
Arizona DiamondbacksChris Young‘s follow up to a great 2007 season has been a pretty big bust despite 13 home runs thus far. He will make some necessary adjustments to enjoy a .900+ OPS and 15+ HRs the rest of the way… Chris Snyder, recovering from a testicular fracture (OUCH!!), is expected back next week and I think he will double his home run total to 14 by season’s end.

Colorado Rockies – It’s been a decidedly different season for the Rockies after their surprise appearance in the World Series last year, but they are still just seven games out. Ubaldo Jimenez has developed into a good starter with declining ERAs in every month of the season. He will be a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher and pair with Aaron Cook for a legit 1-2 punch in Denver… Brad Hawpe has been great since coming back from the disabled list with 12 home runs in 129 at-bats. I expect him to grab 15 more home runs the rest of the year.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Despite seemingly loaded with talent, the Dodgers have been completely anemic on offense this season. Look for the offense to heat up during the dog days of summer with Matt Kemp clubbing 10+ HRs, Jeff Kent slugging 12 of his own and Andre Ethier with another 10 while all three post a better than .800 OPS.

San Diego Padres – Speaking of anemic offenses, the Padres fit that classification as well despite how great Adrian Gonzalez has been this season. Scott Hairston and Kevin Kouzmanoff have displayed some power of their own, but I like Khalil Greene, usually a reliable power threat if nothing else, to muscle up for 12+ home runs and rookie phenom Chase Headley to smack eight or more as well. They could put together a little run if they bats heat up. No one has done anything to establish themselves out West, so perhaps the Padres turn around their 2008 season and challenge a little bit.

San Francisco Giants – Some are labeling this team a surprise team, but they are 40-57 so despite how great their top three of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez have been on the mound, this is still a pretty weak team. Ray Durham has already been dealt to Milwaukee and Randy Winn may be out very soon as well since this team has no need for the veterans. I think they’ll get some youthful exuberance and play some near .500 ball with their trio of starters notching eight wins apiece. Eugenio Velez is back up and I think this time he’ll deliver and steal 15+ bags.


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