Venom Strikes Staff Predictions: NL Division Champs and Wildcards

The NL lost quite a bit of talent this season as superstars such as Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder opted for the land of the designated hitter, however the NL is home to the last two World Series Championships and is top-heavy heading in the 2012 season.

The Diamondbacks join the Phillies and Cardinals–despite losing Pujols–as favorites for the NL division champions.

Oct 16, 2011; Milwaukee, WI, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jason Motte (middle) celebrates with teammates Yadier Molina (4) and Daniel Descalso (33) after defeating the Milwaukee Brewers 12-6 in game six of the 2011 NLCS at Miller Park to win the National League pennant. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Meanwhile the Giants, Brewers and Braves will still be sticking around and the Reds, Nationals and Marlins all made significant improvements to their rosters this offseason.  Of course, each of us at Venom Strikes has our own ideas on how the muddled National League will shake out this year.

Here’s how we see the NL Division Champs and Wildcards shaking out this season:

NL East: Levi, Tyler and I all feel that the addition of Jonathan Papelbon as closer to a rotation that features Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are too much for their NL East combatants.  Thomas feels that the Nationals rotation additions of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson and the ascension of All-World prospect Bryce Harper means an end to the Phillies reign of terror over the NL East.

NL Central: We’re split 50/50 on the NL Central as you’d be correct to expect the division to be wide open after the talent purge that occurred at it’s top.  Thomas and I think that despite losing Pujols, the addition of Carlos Beltran will be enough to offset the gaping hole he left in their lineup and the Cards will supplant the Milwaukee Brewers as NL Central Champs.  Tyler and Levi like the Reds to bounce back thanks to the addition of San Diego Padre’s ace Matt Latos to a team that already has some top talent in Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.

NL West: Not surprising for an Arizona Diamondbacks blog, three of us pick the D-Backs to repeat as NL West Champs.  Thomas, Tyler and I all feel that Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy will lead a strong roster to back-to-back division titles.  Levi, however, thinks that the All-Star rotation of the Giants led by Tim Lincecum and the return of Buster Posey to the lineup mean the San Francisco Giants will bounce back to lead the division.

Wildcards:

Levi does feel that the Diamondbacks will make it to the playoffs as one of the two wildcard play-in-game contestants.  He thinks they’ll play the Washington Nationals in that contest.  Thomas, Tyler and I all think that the Braves will make it to the wildcard game, but each of us think that they’ll see a different opponent.  Thomas thinks that Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp and the Dodgers show big improvements this year, Tyler thinks the defending World Series Champ Cards make it back to the playoffs and I feel that the San Fransisco Giants get back in after a year hiatus.

Coming up next in our staff predictions will be the AL Awards winners.

Follow me on twitter @detsportsczar or at www.thesportsczar.com.

Follow Venom Strikes on twitter @venomstrikes.

Topics: Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Brandon Phillips, Bryce Harper, Buster Posey, Cincinnati Reds, Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Ian Kennedy, Joey Votto, Jonathan Papelbon, Justin Upton, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Tim Lincecum, Washington Nationals

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