2016 MLB National League Preview – Division by Division

2016 National League Preview

Welcome to our 2016 National League preview!  We’re looking at each team’s outlook for 2016. With key losses, key additions and predictions for each division.

National League Central

National League Central Preview

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St. Louis Cardinals
2015 Record: 100-62 (NL Central Champion)
Key Additions: Mike Leake, Jedd Gyorko
Key Losses: Jason Heyward, John Lackey, Jon Jay
Despite never appearing to be an overpowering team, the Cardinals have been one of the strongest teams this decade. With one of the strongest rotations in baseball, St. Louis has not shown any sign of slowing down. Even as veterans like Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday grow older, younger stars like Randal Grichuk and Matt Carpenter continue to keep the Cardinals in contention.

Pittsburgh Pirates
2015 Record: 98-64 (NL Wild Card)
Key Additions: Jon Niese, David Freeze
Key Losses: Neil Walker, A.J. Burnett
After years of squeaking in to the playoffs in the Wild Card Games, the Pirates are going to have a tough time returning to the postseason in 2016. With the Cubs favored to win the division and a wide-open playoff field in the National League, it is not going to be easy to rely on another Wild Card appearance. With David Freeze filling the void at third base until Jung Ho Kang fully recovers from a gruesome injury last September, Pittsburgh will have one of the better defensive teams this season. Everything is going to have to come together perfectly if the Pirates want to raise the Jolly Roger one more time.

Chicago Cubs
2015 Record: 97-65 (NL Wild Card)
Key Additions: Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, John Lackey, Adam Warren
Key Losses: Starlin Castro, Fernando Rodney
After having one of the best teams in 2015, the Cubs added three All-Stars to the roster over the offseason. Chicago is heavily favored to win their first NL Central title since 2008. A stacked starting rotation, strong bullpen and powerful lineup should easily help the Cubs reach the playoffs for the second year in a row. Look for Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant to continue raking and improve off of their impressive seasons last year.

Milwaukee Brewers
2015 Record: 68-94
Key Additions: Aaron Hill, Chase Anderson
Key Losses: Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Francisco Rodriguez
With only two players remaining from the team’s 2011 playoff run, the Milwaukee Brewers are a young, inexperienced team in 2016. Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy may combine to hit 55 home runs and 60 doubles, but they do not have the ability to carry the team into the postseason. With the top half of the division becoming even stronger over the offseason, do not expect Milwaukee to finish in the top half by the end of the year.

Cincinnati Reds
2015 Record: 64-98
Key Additions: Caleb Cotham, Jose Pereza
Key Losses: Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman
The Reds entered full rebuilding mode in the offseason by trading away stars Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman. Although they did receive a nice influx of prospects in both deals, it will be years before any of them reach the majors. After Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips are inevitably traded, their lineup will be Joey Votto and a bunch of players that would be in AAA ball on almost any other club. Reds fans are going to have to wait a few years before they are able to compete with the Cubs and Cardinals again.

NL Central Best Hitter: Anthony Rizzo (Chicago)
NL Central Best Pitcher: Jake Arrieta (Chicago)
NL Central Player to Watch: Randal Grichuk (St. Louis)
NL Central Winner: Chicago Cubs

National League East

National League East Preview

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New York Mets
2015 Record: 96-66 (NL Pennant)
Key Additions: Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera
Key Losses: Daniel Murphy, Tyler, Clippard, Jon Niese
The New York Mets have one of the best rotations in recent history. Now that they all have another year of experience, it will be pretty intimidating going up against them on almost any given day. After resigning Yoenis Cespedes and bringing in Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera to replace the loss of Daniel Murphy, the Mets are looking strong offensively as well. Look for New York to be competitive in the division’s two-team race this year.

Washington Nationals
2015 Record: 83-79
Key Additions: Daniel Murphy
Key Losses: Jordan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister
Bryce Harper proved that he is a once-in-a-generation player last season (well maybe twice with Mike Trout). He finally shut up all of the doubters with a 40-homer season and there is no reason to think he will slow down in 2016. The Nationals will keep the Mets on their toes this season after stealing one of their best players in free agency in Daniel Murphy. If Stephen Strasburg can put it all back together and the team can stay healthy, Washington has a legitimate chance of taking the division title back from New York after just one season.

Miami Marlins
2015 Record: 71-91
Key Additions: Wei-Yin Chen
Key Losses: Henderson Alvarez
The Miami Marlins have been waiting for everything to click together for a long time. With stars Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton leading the team it is only a matter of time before they move up to the upper echelon of the NL East and are able to compete with Washington and New York. Although the lineup is durable, the back end of the rotation and bullpen will continue to hamper Miami in their quest to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

Atlanta Braves
2015 Record: 67-97
Key Additions: Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson, Erik Aybar
Key Losses: Andrelton Simmons, Shelby Miller, Cameron Maybin
After failing to reach the playoffs for the second straight season, the Braves decided to break apart the team in an effort to plan for the future. Despite losing some of the most popular faces in Atlanta, they acquired one of the game’s future superstars in Dansby Swanson. It may take a few years to be competitive again, but Braves fans should be excited for the future of the franchise.

Philadelphia Phillies
2015 Record: 63-99
Key Additions: Mark Appel, Vincent Velasquez
Key Losses: Ken Giles, Cliff Lee
The Phillies have come to terms with the fact that it will take a long time to recreate the successful teams of 2008 and 2009 again. They took the first steps towards the future after trading Ken Giles to Houston for a large haul of prospects. Mark Appel and Vincent Velasquez will be strong aces one day, but Philadelphia fans are going to have to wait a while for that day to come. As veterans like Ryan Howard “age out” and take their contracts off the books the Phillies will be able to bring in more role players and build up a strong team once again.

2016 NL East Best Hitter: Bryce Harper (Washington)
2016 NL East Best Pitcher: Jacob deGrom (New York)
2016 NL East Player to Watch: Steven Matz (New York)
2016 NL East Winner: New York Mets

National League West

National League West Preview

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Los Angeles Dodgers
2015 Record: 92-70 (NL Central Champions)
Key Additions: Scott Kazmir, Trayce Thompson
Key Losses: Zack Greinke
The Dodgers lost one of the best pitchers in the game to a division rival, but don’t count them out of the playoff hunt. Established veterans like Clayton Kershaw and Adrian Gonzalez along with future superstars like Joc Pederson and Corey Seager will keep Los Angeles in contention in 2016. Another season in the United States should help Yasiel Puig keep his attitude in check as he continues to blossom as a player. The NL West will be close this year, but look for the Dodgers to remain in the race to the last day.

San Francisco Giants
2015 Record: 84-78
Key Additions: Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija,
Key Losses: Nori Aoki
Good news Giants fans, it’s an even numbered year! After winning the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014, San Francisco is trying to add their fourth title in seven years this season. The acquisitions of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija will go a long way in bolstering their pitching staff; however rocky finishes in 2015 do raise some red flags for both of them. Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford head a solid starting lineup that could do some damage in the postseason this year, and future Cy Young Award winner Madison Bumgarner looks to add to his impressive resume in 2016.

Arizona Diamondbacks
2015 Record: 79-83
Key Additions: Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Tyler Clippard, Jean Segura
Key Losses: Dansby Swanson, Aaron Hill
Last offseason, the San Diego Padres made a ton of transactions in an effort to jumpstart their club; this offseason, it was Arizona stealing headlines as they acquired four All-Stars. Will they go the way of the 2015 Padres and collapse or jump into the race with the Dodgers and Giants? Arizona definitely has the team to be competitive this year, but don’t crown them champions yet.

San Diego Padres
2015 Record: 74-88
Key Additions: Fernando Rodney, Jon Jay, Alexi Ramirez
Key Losses: Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, Ian Kennedy, Jedd Gyorko
Almost every major move the Padres made last year was undone this offseason. Player contracts were too expensive and many of these trades, while exciting at the time, clearly did not pan out for San Diego. With one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball, the Padres should look to improve its pitching rotation before addressing its lineup. Although Tyson Ross will have another strong season and Alexi Ramirez is the team’s first legitimate shortstop in a long time, it is going to be another long season for Padres fans.

Colorado Rockies
2015 Record: 68-94
Key Additions: Jake McGee, Gerardo Parra
Key Losses: Corey Dickerson
Colorado’s biggest move this offseason was acquiring a pitcher, not the best move for a team playing in Coors Field. Although Jake McGee proved to be a promising bullpen arm in Tampa Bay, his talent may be wasted with the Rockies. Come the Trade Deadline, rumors will be swirling around Carlos Gonzalez once again, but he will stay put in Colorado. One player to keep an eye on is Trevor Story, Troy Tulowitzki’s replacement as the Rockies’ future shortstop. The 1st round pick of the 2011 draft slugged 20 home runs and hit over .275 in the minors last season.

NL West Best Hitter: Buster Posey (San Francisco)
NL West Best Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles)
NL West Player(s) to Watch: Trevor Story (Colorado) and Corey Seager (Los Angeles)
NL West Winner: San Francisco Giants

Author: Nate Discavage

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