This time of year predictions are always a fun part of sports. Everyone has their opinions on what will happen throughout of the upcoming season. Here at KC Kingdom, we have decided to try our hand at making predictions. We have asked each of our Knights who cover baseball to offer up their take on the 2013 baseball season. Participants include: Royals staff writer Jacob Meysenburg, Kings of Kaufman editor and KC Kingdom contributor Michael Engel, and our co-editors Ben Nielsen and Joel Wagler. There have been no consultations or comparing of notes whatsoever, just honest opinions.
National League Predictions
NL EAST WINNER
Jacob: Washington Nationals – They had the best record in baseball last year and their star players are young. This Washington team will be exciting for a while.
Michael: Washington National – They were the best team last year and will only be better.
Ben: The Washington Nationals will win the NL East by one game when, in a twist of fate, the Atlanta Braves fall on the wrong end of a botched infield fly ruling and lose on the last day of the regular season against the Philadelphia Phillies. I absolutely love the Braves lineup and think they may lead the National League in runs when all is said and done. My question is with the rotation. Brandon Beachy is still recovering from Tommy John and will effectively miss half of the season, Tim Hudson is ancient, 37-years-old, and wearing down, Paul Maholm is a fifth starter at best who will go third in this rotation, and Mike Minor and Julio Teheran have yet to prove anything other than they’ll give up a lot of home runs. If Beachy were healthy and I could count on Kris Medlen, Hudson, and the young guys to have good seasons then I’d favor Atlanta, but those things are not true as of today so I have to go with Washington.
Joel: I think it is very close between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves. I have to give the nod to the Nats due to their rotation.
NL CENTRAL WINNER
Jacob: St. Louis Cardinals- The Cardinals were probably better last year than their record indicated and their offense is elite. The injury to Chris Carpenter will hurt, but this Cardinals team still has enough firepower to capture the NL Central.
Michael: Cincinnati Reds – They have stars all over the diamond and their main competition – St. Louis – feels shaky to me.
Ben: The Cincinnati Reds. Why? Because I hate St. Louis. Next question.
Joel: I really like the Cincinnati Reds. If Johnny Cueto can repeat last season’s numbers in one of the weakest divisions in baseball, the Red could run away with it.
NL WEST WINNER
Jacob: Los Angeles Dodgers- LA’s big off season of spending will pay off. Despite the spring training concerns, expect Zack Greinke to have a huge year and be the second part of the most fearsome head of a pitching staff along with Clayton Kershaw.
Michael: Los Angeles Dodgers – If you have Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw and don’t win, then I don’t know what else you need.
Ben: I’m going San Francisco over Los Angeles. The Hanley Ramirez injury isn’t going to help the fact that virtually every one of their position players has a history of injuries. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsly, and whoever they decide they want to pitch fifth is going to be an excellent rotation so they’re going to be on San Francisco’s heels. I just don’t think the lineup will stay healthy enough to produce the runs they need to overtake the Giants.
Joel: The Los Angeles Dodgers have a lot of talent. I just don’t think that the San Francisco Giants’ offense will be enough to overtake the Dodgers. The Giants can’t win every game 2-1.
NL WILD CARD TEAMS
Jacob: Atlanta Braves; Cincinnati Reds- The Braves improved their outfield in a big way this off season despite losing Michael Bourn. I doubt that Kris Medlen can duplicate his results from last year, but he should still be very good. A full year from Joey Votto will help the Reds.
Michael: Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants
Ben: Dodgers and Braves. I split hairs with both teams when it comes to their standings in the division but both are going to be extremely good and will win a ton of games.
Joel: The Atlanta Braves for sure. I am leaning toward the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card team. I love the Giants’ pitching but not their hitters. This second spot could come right down to the wire.
NL WORLD SERIES REPRESENTATIVE
Jacob: Washington Nationals-Having Stephen Strasburg in the playoffs will lead to their first World Series championship.
Michael: Washington Nationals
Ben: Nationals. Frankly, I think they could have won it last year if Strasburg had pitched. Seriously, Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman to start off a playoff series? With Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler in the ‘pen just in case? Good luck. On offense, another year of Bryce Harper, the stabilization of the outfield with the Denard Span addition and a healthy Jayson Worth will help. If Zimmerman can stay healthy for a full season and Harper makes another leap then they will be good enough to win more than just their division.
Joel: The Nationals have to be my choice. I will say here though, that if the Giants can sneak into the playoffs, their top three pitchers could win any short series against any team.
Jabob: Troy Tulowitzki- An injury hampered him last season, but he is still the best shortstop in the game. Expect a big season.
Michael: Joey Votto, first baseman, Cincinnati Reds
Ben: Bryce Harper.
Joel: I think if he stays healthy, Joey Votto may be the best hitter in the National League. I think the Reds win the Central easily and Votto is their leader.
NL CY YOUNG
Jacob: Stephen Strasburg- A healthy and unrestricted Strasburg should strike out a ridiculous number of batters.
Michael: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ben: Clayton Kershaw.
Joel: Kris Medlen surprises everyone and repeats his 2012 numbers over a whole season. He becomes the ace for the Braves and leads them into the playoffs.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Jacob: Oscar Taveras- He’s not quite on the Trout/Harper level, but this sweet swinging outfielder should be a household name soon.
Michael: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ben: Wil Myers. This is made possible after a stunning Opening Day trade between Tampa Bay and the Miami Marlins who send Giancarlo Stanton to Tampa Bay for a signed Evan Longoria hat and Myers. My next guess is Tyler Skaggs because he is on my fantasy baseball team.
Joel: I think Oscar Taveras is the best hitting prospect with a chance to play in 2013. The Cardinal outfield has been a little injury prone in the past and he should get his chance before June 1st.
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Jacob: Davey Johnson- The Nationals skipper should repeat his success from last year.
Michael: Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds
Ben: Trey Hillman. After a disastrous April start Don Mattingly is fired and Hillman is left in charge as an interim manager. After sternly talking to the team at home plate after a day game and a playful unicycle ride the next day, the Dodgers revive themselves and push their way into a wild card spot. Or it could be Dusty Baker.
Joel: The Braves put up an impressive enough fight in the East to garner Fredi Gonzalez the nod for Coach of the year.