Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Other Joe's NL Award Winners and Playoff Teams

NL Most Valuable Player - Chase Utley: He'll make it three straight Philadelphia NL MVPs. Utley is probably the best pure hitter on the Phillies, and early this season he's really shined. For those of us who are fantasy baseball players, Utley's dominance is old hat, but he'll become widely known this year, owing partly to Rollins and Howard generating buzz from the city of Brotherly Love. Sleeper - Derrek Lee

NL Cy Young - Johan Santana: I've felt he was the best pitcher in baseball despite being in the burlier American League, so his move to the senior circuit should only be beneficial. Realistically though, you're looking at a great Cy Young race in the NL between Santana, Jake Peavy, Brandon Webb, and Cole Hamels. Sleeper - Yovani Gallardo

NL Manager of the Year - Joe Torre: I don't think the Dodgers will be among the best teams in the league, but they'll be in the playoff hunt right up until the last week of the season. As I don't expect a surprise team to improve dramatically, and I don't see any of these teams going crazy and winning 100+ games, Torre will be one of the more heart-warming stories in the manager realm. How he handles the logjam in the outfield will prominently affect his potential for this award. Sleeper - Manny Acta

NL Rookie of the Year - Kosuke Fukudome: Whether or not players who have played professionally overseas should be eligible for the Rookie of the Year award is a debate for another time. The fact is, he's a disciplined bat who will be a vital cog for what figures to be a playoff team. His year-end numbers will justify a ROY award. Sleeper - Jay Bruce

NL Playoff Teams
New York Mets - Too much talent to fall apart like last year. Adding Santana gives them a legitimately scary rotation.
Chicago Cubs - I teeter between the Cubs and Brewers, but I believe the Cubs' starting pitchers and defense to be the difference.
Arizona Diamondbacks - The most exciting part of the D'Backs is that they can still get a lot better. Their young talent has room to improve, which could culminate in a 110 win season down the road.
Philadelphia Phillies - They're a pretty typical good team, and come playoff time they could surprise some people. As it is, though, they're looking like a wild card team.

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