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NL baseball preview

A team by team glance, with predicted order of finish in each division:

March 26, 2011|By Kevin Baxter



2010: 97-65, first

Last year in playoffs: 2010

Jayson Werth (.296, 27 HRs, 85 RBIs) is gone and Chase Utley will start the year on the disabled list. But with this starting pitching rotation, who cares? Three years ago, Cole Hamels was the World Series and playoff MVP; now he's the fourth starter. Philadelphia got a league-best 70 wins from its rotation in 2010 and that was before it added Cliff Lee.

Starting lineup

(in projected batting order)

SS J. Rollins

3B P. Polanco

LF R. Ibanez

1B R. Howard

RF B. Francisco

CF S. Victorino

C C. Ruiz

2B W. Valdez

Pitching rotation

R. Halladay (R)

C. Lee (L)

R. Oswalt (R)

C. Hamels (L)

J. Blanton (R)


B. Lidge (R)


2010: 91-71, second

Last year in playoffs: 2010

At age 38, Chipper Jones' return from knee surgery was uncertain. But the way he has played this spring has silenced the doubters. And with Dan Uggla joining a lineup that already featured Jason Heyward, Martin Prado and Brian McCann, the Braves should score a lot of runs. The key is, can the pitching staff (3.56 ERA in 2010) and a rookie closer in Craig Kimbrel make those runs stand up?

Starting lineup

(in projected batting order)

LF M. Prado

SS A. Gonzalez

3B C. Jones

RF J. Heyward

C B. McCann

2B D. Uggla

1B F. Freeman

CF N. McLouth

Pitching rotation

T.Hudson (R)

D. Lowe (R)

J. Jurrjens (R)

T. Hanson (R)

M. Minor (L)


C. Kimbrel (R)


2010: 80-82, third

Last year in playoffs: 2003

With only one starter older than 29, the Marlins are led by two rookies of the year, Chris Coghlan and Hanley Ramirez, and two other 20-somethings, Mike Stanton and Gaby Sanchez, who combined for 41 homers and 144 runs batted in in their first full season, 2010. Gone is Dan Uggla, who took his team-leading 33 homers and 105 RBIs — and 149 strikeouts — to Atlanta.

Starting lineup

(in projected batting order)

CF C. Coghlan

2B O. Infante

SS H. Ramirez

RF M. Stanton

LF L. Morrison

1B G. Sanchez

C J. Buck

3B D. Murphy

Pitching rotation

J. Johnson (R)

R. Nolasco (R)

J. Vazquez (R)

A. Sanchez (R)

C. Volstad (R)


L. Nunez (R)


2010: 79-83, fourth

Last year in playoffs: 2006

To make new Manager Terry Collins a winner, the Mets need bounce-back seasons from a host of players. Among them: Jason Bay and the injury-plagued Carlos Beltran. They also need Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus to seize the second base job. If Johan Santana's rehabilitation from shoulder surgery remains on pace, he could return to the rotation by midsummer.

Starting lineup

(in projected batting order)

SS J. Reyes

CF A. Pagan

3B D. Wright

RF C. Beltran

LF J. Bay

1B I. Davis

2B B. Emaus

C. J. Thole

Pitching rotation

M. Pelfrey (R)

J. Niese (L)

R.A. Dickey (R)

C. Young (R)

C. Capuano (L)


F. Rodriguez (R)


2010: 69-93, fifth

Last year in playoffs: 1981 (as Montreal Expos)

The franchise last had a winning record in 2003. But it's just marking time until the future arrives with the return of pitcher Stephen Strasburg from elbow surgery and the accession of top draft pick Bryce Harper. Until then, Jayson Werth (27 HRs, 85 RBIs with Philadelphia) and Ryan Zimmerman (.307, 25, 85) will try to keep the fans interested.

Starting lineup

(in projected batting order)

CF N. Morgan

RF J. Werth

3B R. Zimmerman

1B A. LaRoche

LF M. Morse

SS. I. Desmond

2B D. Espinosa

C I. Rodriguez

Pitching rotation

L. Hernandez (R)

J. Lannan (L)

J. Marquis (R)

J. Zimmerman (R)

T. Gorzelanny (L)


D. Storen (R)



2010: 91-71, first

Last year In playoffs: 2010

The Reds made few changes after their most successful season in two decades. League MVP Joey Votto (.324, 37 HRs, 113 RBIs) leads an offense that topped the National League in several significant categories. Former 17-game winner Edinson Volquez returns from injury and a drug suspension to replace Aaron Harang in an improved rotation.

Starting lineup

(in projected batting order)

CF D. Stubbs

2B B. Phillips

1B J. Votto

3B S. Rolen

CF J. Bruce

LF J. Gomes

C R. Hernandez

SS P. Janish

Pitching rotation

E. Volquez (R)

B. Arroyo (R)

J. Cueto (R)

H. Bailey (R)

T. Wood (L)


F. Cordero (R)


2010: 77-85, third

Last year in playoffs: 2008

When Zach Greinke returns from a cracked rib, he'll top the deepest rotation in the division. And with a lineup that includes Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, the Brewers are legitimate playoff contenders. That could put a big load on John Axford, a 42nd-round draft pick entering his first full season as a closer. He made good on 24 of 27 chances last summer.

Starting lineup

(in projected batting order)

2B R. Weeks

RF C. Hart

LF R. Braun

1B P. Fielder

3B C. McGehee

SS Y. Betancourt

CF C. Gomez

C J. Lucroy

Pitching rotation

Y. Gallardo (R)

Z. Greinke (R)

S. Marcum (R)

R. Wolf (L)

C. Narveson (L)


J. Axford (R)


2010: 86-76, second

Last year in playoffs: 2009

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