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The Major League Baseball regular season is now in the books. While football is taking center stage on Saturdays and Sundays, for at least one month, baseball remains king on weekdays thanks to the postseason. We still got a few more weeks of baseball season folks, don’t sleep on it.
We already took a look at the contenders and pretenders amongst the American League teams that qualified for the playoffs. Now it’s time to look at the National League teams and see who really has a chance and who’s lucky to be here.
Philadelphia Phillies – Pretenders
Philadelphia just edged out the Milwaukee Brewers in the last week of the season to punch their ticket into the playoffs. To see them make the playoffs alone is quite a feat, especially with the teams they beat out to get there. That said, they’re not quite there yet.
This Phillies team is absolutely fun – they have a really good collection of players that make them a joy to watch, especially when they’re at bat. The problem is their pitching has been a bit underwhelming. With how crucial of a position pitcher is, that may be what sinks them in the postseason and ultimately lands them as a pretender.
San Diego Padres – Contenders
The San Diego Padres were able to make the playoffs without shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and with outside noise cranked up to eleven. Even trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by more than 20 games hasn’t shaken them out of their comfort zone.
San Diego should be able to go on a good run in the playoffs. They have the pitching and hitting to compete with any team. Their one downfall could be a team they play, like Los Angeles, but if it comes down to that it may be a more even playing field than people want to give credit to.
New York Mets – Pretenders
On June 1st, the New York Mets held a 10.5 game lead in the National League East over the Atlanta Braves. Despite having a stacked starting line up, strong pitchers and an extremely catchy entrance song for their closer, they sit as the top Wild Card team, having out lost out to Atlanta.
You couldn’t script a bigger collapse unless Gavin O’Conner (director of Miracle) was in charge of the season and it’s events. It may sound ridiculous to go off their record since June, especially if they’re still the top Wild Card team, but when a team blows this kind of lead it has the makings of an early departures. The New York Mets are such pretenders this season, they may need to dump Timmy Trumpet for that Foo Fighters’ song. I forgot, what was it called again?
St. Louis Cardinals – Pretenders
It’s hard to downplay on an amazing story such as the last dance for catcher Yadier Molina, designated hitter Albert Pujols and possibly pitcher Adam Wainwright. As a baseball fan, it would be a crushing blow to our fandom to knock it down a peg or two…but we live in reality, and the reality is this team had 91 wins in a league that saw three 100 win teams.
Fans will hold Pujols, Wainwright and Molina walking off the field together in the same regard as Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte sharing the field one last time. They could run on adrenaline from the situation and get an upset, maybe run the table even, but that’s not something one can measure statistically. When you write in this business, you go by what you see, not always what you feel.
Atlanta Braves – Contenders
The Atlanta Braves came back and took the National League East from the New York Mets. They’re going into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the sport. Of course they’re contenders!
Atlanta has a line up that can hit contact or power, they can produce runs and they play the field well. Their pitching is their only concern, however with the runs they usually put up, it does give them a bit of a cushion for them to make mistakes. Atlanta won the World Series with not as much talent last year, don’t think they can’t do it again this time around.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Contenders
Los Angeles is a juggernaut and as such, demands to be seen as not only a contender, but quite possibly, THE contender. This team is the equivalent of what happens when a kid plays a sports game and trades for all the best players (LeBron James must be blushing).
All together, Los Angeles had three starting pitchers with 15 wins or more, five players with 20 home runs or more, and five players with a .270 batting average or higher. Oh yeah, they also won 110 games this year, the fifth most in the history of the game. Los Angeles realistically should be seen as a major threat during the postseason. If they’re not, then look again.