Similar to the American League, all three divisions leaders in the National League have less than a 5 game lead over the 2nd place teams. I don't think there is a clear cut favorite in the NL, similar to the AL, but lets go through each division and see if we can find one.
National League East:
- Washington Nationals - 64-53, GB (-)
- Atlanta Braves - 60-59, GB (5)
- Miami Marlins - 59-60, GB (6)
Could this be the year the Nationals get over hump? In 2012 the Nats won the NL East and had the best record in baseball with 98 wins. They also won 50 games at home but lost in the 1st round to St. Louis, who was the Wild-Card. They have built a nice lead on the Braves after being tied just a month ago. They also have a National League best +85 run differential. The craziest thing about the Nats is Bryce Harper and Stephen Strausberg are both having sub-par seasons. Strausberg only has 8 wins in 25 starts, and has allowed 18 home runs. Harper has only played 58 games after missing 58 games because of a thumb injury, batting a .228 in July and .194 in August. The struggle is real for both players but yet the Nats are still in 1st place.
- The Braves are 2-8 in the last the month of August so far. They lost the first 5 games of the month and was swept by the Padres. They have also lost 3 games in extra innings during that span, 2 to the Padres and 1 to the Nationals. August has been a horrible month for the Braves and if it continues like this, they will be out of contention before September.
- The Marlins are staying in the picture and has become a surprising team this year. Giancarlo Stanton has become a fan favorite throughout the MLB with his hitting power, tied with Nelson and Abreu for most HRs in the majors. In the month of August, Stanton has 6 HRS, 9 RBIs and 1.224 OPS. If the Marlins can string some wins together while the Braves are struggling, they take that 2nd place spot and put some real pressure on the Nats.
CY Young Candidates
National League Central:
- Milwaukee Brewers - 66-54, GB (-)
- Pittsburgh Pirates - 64-55, GB (1.5)
- St. Louis Cardinals - 62-56, GB (3)
- Cincinatti Reds - 60-59, GB (5.5)
Instead of breaking down the division leading Brewers, I would like to breakdown this very close race for the NL Central. June 12th, the Brewers were ahead of the St. Louis by 5.5 games and the Pirates 7 games. By the All-Star break, the Cardinals and Brewers were tied and the Reds were 1.5 games behind them, who was 8.5 games behind. From July 1st to July 13th, the Brewers went 2-10 crawling into the All-Star break. Since then, the Pirates have made their move for the top spot, going 14-9 since July 18th. All 4 teams have a decent division record, Reds with the best, 28-20. It's hard to say who will step out of this conference because each team looks identical. The final month of the season will be an epic one in the NL East, each team with at least 5 division series. In the final series of the season, Reds and Pirates will squaroff, while the Brewers take on the last place Cubs. and the Cards taking a trip to Arizona to see the Diamondbacks.
NL MVP Candidates
National League West:
LA Dodgers - 69-52, GB (-)
San Francisco - 62 - 56, (5.5)
he Dodgers are looking to capture their 4th division title since 2008. Dodgers has been consistent all season and look poised for another run in October. If I had to choose a favorite in the NL, it would be them. They have a very good lineup with 5 of their best hitters batting over .270 and that doesn't include Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, or Juan Uribe. It's notables all over this lineup and they are producing. Dee Gordon is the X-factor with his league leading 51 stolen bags. Matt Kemp has earned his way into the lineup in the outfield, beating out Either and Crawford as the main starter, batting a .284 with 53 RBIs. Even though those are sub-par numbers for a player like Kemp, but he has been a consistent starter in the outfield for this team. And we haven't even spoke on the pitching staff. Of course they have the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw, but also proven starters like Zach Grinke, Josh Beckett, and a consistent Hyun-Jin Ryu. As much as I don't want to count out the Giants, I think Dodgers are going to walk away with this division.
- While the Dodgers been winning division titles, the Giants was also doing some title winning. Since 2010, the Giants has won 2 World Series after missing the playoffs the year before. They have a 19-9 record in the division and will see the Dodgers twice in September, expect both of those series to be very chippy.