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.

MVP

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

We hoped you liked reading FanGraphs 2014 Staff Predictions: National League by Dave Cameron!

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

newest oldest most voted
LaLoosh
Guest

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.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

“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).

cass
Guest
cass

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

Johnston
Guest
Johnston

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