FanGraphs 2014 Staff Predictions: National League

The 2014 Major League Baseball season kicks off for real on Monday — no, random days where the Dodgers play someone and it’s the only game of the day don’t count — and so, as a baseball site, we are compelled to offer our staff’s predictions for the upcoming season. We are compelled because you like to read our staff predictions, even though they are terrible. And boy are they terrible.

Among last year’s gems were things like Aaron Hicks, American League Rookie of the Year. Aaron Hicks did not get a single vote by any one voter on a Rookie of the Year ballot last year. We also had the Angels and Blue Jays making the playoffs. Predicting baseball is silly. Everyone is terrible at it, including us. But as long as you know that going in, it’s still kind of a fun exercise.

Okay, so, on to the picks. We did the AL this morning, so now for the NL.

Division Winners

West: Los Angeles (30), San Francisco (1), San Diego (0), Arizona (0), Colorado (0)
Central: St. Louis (30), Pittsburgh (1), Cincinnati (0), Chicago (0), Milwaukee (0)
East: Washington (28), Atlanta (3), Phiadelphia (0), Miami (0), New York (0)

People like to accuse groups of authors, like the ones we have here, of “groupthink”. Well, if you want to accuse us of such a thing, we have just provided you with evidence to support your claim. You are welcome.

The other possibility is that there really is just a clear separation between the NL contenders and NL pretenders, with the senior circuit hosting a bunch of rebuilding teams who have no realistic chance to contend in 2014. Or we’re biased and we hate your team. Your call.

Wild Card Winners

Note: Consensus division winners are excluded, and the non-consensus winners have had their division title selections added to their Wild Card selections, so for the teams listed below, their placement is based upon their combined number of total predicted playoff appearances, either through WC or Divisional victory.

Atlanta (17 WC, 3 DIV)
Pittsburgh (14 WC, 1 DIV)
Cincinnati (10 WC, 0 DIV)
San Francisco (7 WC, 1 DIV)
San Diego (5 WC, 0 DIV)
Arizona (2 WC, 0 DIV)
Colorado (1 WC, 0 DIV)
Milwaukee (1 WC, 0 DIV)

Total Predicted Playoff Appearances

This is the number of all authors who voted for each team to make the postseason, either through the division or the wild card.

Los Angeles: 31
St. Louis: 31
Washington: 31
Atlanta: 20
Pittsburgh: 15
Cincinnati: 10
San Francisco: 8
San Diego: 5
Arizona: 2
Colorado: 1
Milwaukee: 1
Philadelphia: 0
Miami: 0
New York: 0
Chicago: 0

Every single FanGraphs author who filled out our spreadsheet penciled in the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Nationals for the postseason in some fashion. There was less agreement on which second tier teams would emerge and claim the other two spots, but our staff is basically convinced that the three top teams in the NL are clearly in a class of their own.


Bryce Harper: 5
Hanley Ramirez: 4
Buster Posey: 4
Paul Goldschmidt: 4
Andrew McCutchen: 3
Yadier Molina: 3
Troy Tulowitzki: 2
Joey Votto: 2
Justin Upton: 1
Ryan Braun: 1
Matt Holliday: 1
Carlos Gonzalez: 1

Bryce Harper received a plurality of the votes, but by no means anything close to a majority, as our panel selected a wide and varied number of players as legitimate MVP candidates. And really, this feels pretty accurate to me, as the NL is home to a strong class of excellent players, with no very clear best player that stands above his peers. I don’t know that I’d buy into Ryan Braun ever receiving an MVP vote from the BBWAA again, but most of the rest of the names on the list are entirely reasonable selections.

Cy Young

Clayton Kershaw: 18
Adam Wainwright: 3
Jose Fernandez: 3
Madison Bumgarner: 3
Stephen Strasburg: 2
Zack Greinke: 1
Homer Bailey: 1

No toss-up here: Kershaw is the best, and everyone else is playing catch up. As with any award selection involving pitchers, you should always take the field over any individual player, but if forced to pick a player as the favorite, Kershaw is the guy.

Rookie of the Year

Billy Hamilton: 7
Gregory Polanco: 7
Archie Bradley: 7
Chris Owings: 5
Travis D’Arnaud: 3
Javier Baez: 1
Jameson Taillon: 1

A three way tie for first, with a pair of athletic outfielders and a power throwing pitcher all checking in as favorites. Like with the MVP, there is really no clear favorite here, allowing for any number of reasonable selections. Unlike with the MVP, a large consideration for the prediction has to be the date or arrival, as Polanco’s chances to win the award are basically tied to whether or not the Pirates keep him down long enough to avoid Super Two status. If he (or Bradley, for that matter) is up by the beginning of May, his chances increase dramatically.

For those interested, and for future mocking purposes, here is a table with each author’s selections.

Author West Central East Wild Card Wild Card MVP Cy Young Rookie
Alan Harrison Los Angeles St. Louis Atlanta Washington Pittsburgh Ramirez Wainwright Hamilton
Bill Petti Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Atlanta San Fran Posey Kershaw Polanco
Blake Murphy Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Cincinnati San Fran Tulowitzki Kershaw Bradley
Brad Johnson Los Angeles St. Louis Atlanta Colorado Washington Tulowitzki Kershaw Hamilton
Brett Talley Los Angeles St. Louis Washington San Diego Atlanta Braun Kershaw Polanco
Carson Cistulli Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Pittsburgh San Diego Posey Greinke Owings
Chris Cwik Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Atlanta Cincinnati Harper Kershaw Owings
Colin Zarzycki Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Pittsburgh Cincinnati Harper Kershaw Bradley
Dave Cameron Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Pittsburgh Atlanta Molina Kershaw Polanco
David G Temple Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Pittsburgh Atlanta Molina Fernandez Hamilton
David Laurila San Fran St. Louis Washington Los Angeles Cincinnati Posey Strasburg Hamilton
David Wiers Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Atlanta Cincinnati Upton Kershaw d’Arnaud
Eno Sarris Los Angeles Pittsburgh Washington St. Louis Atlanta Goldschmidt Kershaw Polanco
Howard Bender Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Pittsburgh Arizona Goldschmidt Bumgarner Bradley
Jason Collette Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Atlanta Milwaukee Harper Bailey Hamilton
Jeff Sullivan Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Pittsburgh San Fran Molina Kershaw Polanco
Jeff Zimmerman Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Arizona Cincinnati Ramirez Wainwright Bradley
Jeremy Blachman Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Cincinnati San Diego Holliday Kershaw Bradley
John Paschal Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Cincinnati Atlanta Votto Kershaw Hamilton
Karl de Vries Los Angeles St. Louis Atlanta Washington Pittsburgh McCutchen Kershaw Owings
Marc Hulet Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Pittsburgh San Fran Posey Strasburg d’Arnaud
Matt Klaassen Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Atlanta Pittsburgh McCutchen Fernandez d’Arnaud
Matt Yaspan Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Atlanta Cincinnati Harper Kershaw Taillon
Max Weinstein Los Angeles St. Louis Washington San Fran Atlanta Ramirez Kershaw Baez
Michael Barr Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Atlanta Pittsburgh Goldschmidt Wainwright Hamilton
Mike Bates Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Pittsburgh San Fran Gonzalez Fernandez Owings
Mike Petriello Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Atlanta Pittsburgh Goldschmidt Kershaw Polanco
Patrick Dubuque Los Angeles St. Louis Washington San Diego Atlanta McCutchen Kershaw Bradley
Paul Swydan Los Angeles St. Louis Washington San Diego Pittsburgh Votto Bumgarner Polanco
Wendy Thurm Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Atlanta San Fran Harper Bumgarner Bradley
Zach Sanders Los Angeles St. Louis Washington Cincinnati Atlanta Ramirez Kershaw Owings

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

47 Responses to “FanGraphs 2014 Staff Predictions: National League”

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  1. LaLoosh says:

    yeah the NL seems almost set w/o having to play any games. The WCs could be interesting tho. Actually surprised not to see more support for teams like SD or AZ to slip in frankly.

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    • Anon21 says:

      “yeah the NL seems almost set w/o having to play any games. The WCs could be interesting tho.”

      Key word “seems.” One or more of the “locks” is going to turn out not to be the team analysts think it is (or be decimated by injuries).

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      • cass says:

        You can go ahead and say that the analysts are probably overrating the Nats and underrating the Braves. :)

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        • Johnston says:

          The analysts are probably overrating the Nats and underrating the Braves. Just like last year.

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  2. dang says:

    Cliff Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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  3. Nick says:

    Surprised Wong didn’t get any rookie votes.

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Sam says:

    I was surprised there were no votes for Kolten Wong for RoY. His projected stats are far better than Owings’ and Polanco’s.

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    • Jon says:

      I’m with you. He’s my pick for this year’s embarrassment to the experts. Seriously, they’ve got guys on this list who haven’t even won a starting job…Wong may get to hit second for the Cardinals (not that it would be the right choice but it may be Matheny’s choice) and that’s sure going to be a sweet place for BA and runs.

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    • Jon L. says:

      Every single writer could agree that Wong is a top 3 NL ROY candidates, and it wouldn’t necessarily get him on the list.

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  5. pj says:

    Liking those 5 votes for Owings for ROY. He is being slept on bigtime. Could get 15-15 with a good average.

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  6. Brad Johnson says:

    You’re welcome Rockies fans. I’m your only vote of hope.

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    • I’d like to buy you a drink. Now to await the World Series, pitting the the Colorado Rockies against the AL single vote getter, the Seattle Mariners.

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    • White Blood Cells says:

      Bold picks are more fun. If they don’t work out, no one will care, but if they do pull off the miracle, you can lord it over people and say “I called it!”

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    • BobbyJohn says:

      Considering this web site has the Rockies with the #9 rotation and #3 bullpen in all of baseball, you just might come off smelling like a rose.

      Or something else…

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    • Winston says:

      Yeah that was strange, they seem like pretty strong second place contenders this year. Especially strange considering the Padres got 5 WC votes, they seem like obvious preseason cellar-dwellers to me.

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  7. Jason Collette says:

    I expect a lifetime supply of AJ Bombers burger & beer if my Milwaukee prediction pans out.

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  8. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Second Annual
    Relief Pitchers

    The Top Sixteen
    16. Jeffrey Alan “Buddy” Boshers
    15. Albert Fernando Rodney
    14. Zac Rosscup
    13. Junichi Tazawa
    12. Rex Coleman Brothers
    11. Robert Joseph LaFromboise
    10. Deunte Raymon Heath
    9. Alexi Ogando
    8. Lisalverto Bonilla
    7. Stolmy Ramon Pimentel
    6. Mario Eduardo Lemus Hollands
    5. Burke Heinrich Badenhop
    4. Wilmer Font
    3. Francisley Trueba Bueno
    2. Alberto Jose Alburquerque
    1. Arquimedes Euclides Caminero

    Special Awards and Accolades
    Most Useful for Southeast Asian Geography Puns: Michael Tonkin
    Most Satisfyingly Adult in Nature: Charlie Furbush
    Least Likely to Use the First Four Letters of His Name as His Nickname: Lisalverto Bonilla
    Typographical Expert: Wilmer Font
    Most Likely to Have Own Line of Scentwear: Preston Claiborne
    Awesome Alliteration Honoree: Carter Capps, Buddy Boshers, Heath Hembree, Burke Badenhop
    Most Obviously Reversed: Gonzalez Germen

    N.B. Some pitchers were ineligible as they have already appeared in the Starting Pitchers bracket.

    +29 Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. AverageMeansAverageOverTime says:

    These are fun.

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  10. JC says:

    Is Wong not a wookie? He’s a top 100 prospect with a starting job.

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  11. fjrobinson44 says:

    Cool. My predictions line up exactly with Paschal’s.

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  12. Giants Homer says:

    Thank you all for jinxing the hated Dodgers for me! Except Laurila, who is obviously an unappreciated genius, wise beyond his years, however many years that may be.

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  13. Horrible internet connection says:

    2013 FanGraphs NL Staff Predictions, for reference:

    NL MVP: Joey Votto
    NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg
    NL ROY: Shelby Miller

    Only one writer picked McCutchen. Of the other 7 players who received MVP picks from FG writers, only 3 actually received MVP votes (Votto, who finished 6th, Tulo-17th,Posey-20th).

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  14. sweetdickwillie says:

    I’m feeling like Javier Baez may hit 20 dingers in 2/3 of a season. Tough to beat that for ROY

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  15. Ruki Motomiya says:

    NL East Winner: Washington Nationals
    NL Central Winners: St. Louis Cardinals
    NL West Winners: Los Angeles Dodgers
    NL Wild Card 1: Cincinatti Reds
    NL Wild Card 2: San Francisco Giants
    NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt
    NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
    NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton

    Since I posted my AL crowdsource ones, I figured I’d also post my NL ones: Close to the WC spot were the Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks.

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  16. Mark says:

    Would this look any different if the Dodgers were 0-2 instead of 2-0?

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  17. GilaMonster says:

    Here is the dark horse: The Padres.

    The offense isn’t filled with superstars. But they are a team filled with ver good and underrated players with adequate depth and upside.
    Their rotation has upside, yet is deep. Cashener,JJ,Kennedy,Ross, and Wisler looks great to me. You’ve got a great bullpen.

    The Giants have injury risks with their stars,injury risks with their non-meh players. And their rotation has an awful back in and no depth.

    Bold Prediction: The Padres get the 2nd wild card and Andrew Cashner finishes top 3 in NL Cy Young voting.

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  18. channelclemente says:

    So Aribe is going to pull 5 WAR again. The NL West is going to be a bit*ch slapping cat fight wire to wire.

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  19. Lorenzo says:

    I’m shocked, shocked at all the Dodgers love. I just read a computer prediction that the Rockies will win the NL West with 98 wins! Don’t you experts know how to use computers?

    @GilaMonster: Wisler is likely ticketed for more seasoning, with Robbie Erlin set to replace JJ. The thing to watch with Erlin is not his overall numbers last year as a rookie, but his last five starts in September. He’s picked up in Spring Training where he left off last year, and Bud Black has had nothing but good things to say about him recently, making it sound like Erlin is a grizzled veteran. That’s a BIG tipoff.

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  20. Adam S says:

    It’s hard to look at any of the NL Divisions and make a case for the favorite not having a 50% chance of winning the division. Picking the Braves, Pirates, or Giants is knowingly picking the second best team hoping you get “lucky” and look smart in October. I’d be curious if any of those guys disagree and really want to make a case for their team.

    Yet, it’s also clear that none of the favorites are 95% to win the division. I expect it’s more likely one of them doesn’t win a division than all three do. We’ll probably see one runaway, I suspect in the NL East but a couple of good races.

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  21. Jon L. says:

    Prediction: At least one of Washington, St. Louis, and Los Angeles does not make the postseason.

    Because baseball.

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