Mostly MLB Notes: A 2016 National League Preview

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NL East

1. New York Mets

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2. Washington Nationals

3. Miami Marlins

4. Atlanta Braves

5. Philadelphia Phillies

Comments/Fantasy predictions: Michael Conforto proves to be one of the bigger steals based on his ADP, while David Wright plays in fewer than 100 games. Matt Harvey finishes as a top-three fantasy starter, while Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard are both top-10...Trea Turner steals 30 bags while Stephen Strasburg has his best season to date. Joe Ross finishes as a top-30 fantasy starter, while Bryce Harper repeats as the NL’s MVP winner...Giancarlo Stanton leads major league baseball in homers, while Jose Fernandez strikes out 225 batters despite an innings limit. A.J. Ramos records 40 saves, while Wei-Yin Chen finishes with more fantasy value than Julio Teheran, John Lackey and Jeff Samardzija. Marcell Ozuna is a top-50 fantasy outfielder, while Christian Yelich is top-30.

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No one in the Braves’ bullpen finishes with 20 saves, while no hitter finishes with 20 homers or 80 RBI...The Phillies record the most losses in baseball, just barely edging out Atlanta. Jerad Eickhoff emerges as the team’s best pitcher, finishing with more fantasy value than Gio Gonzalez. J.P. Crawford finishes third in Rookie of the Year voting despite not getting called up until June. He’ll be a top-10 shortstop once he’s in Philadelphia and will be well worth stashing early on. Maikel Franco hits 25 homers and reaches 100 RBI.

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NL Central

1. Chicago Cubs

2. St. Louis Cardinals (Wild Card)

3. Pittsburgh Pirates

4. Milwaukee Brewers

5. Cincinnati Reds

Comments/Fantasy predictions: Hector Rondon is a top-five closer, while Jake Arrieta isn’t a top-10 starter. Jon Lester, who allowed more steals last year than any pitcher since 2007, finished with an ERA above 5.00 in three different months. In the other three, he was 2.36 or lower, as few starters can match that inconsistency, and he recently revealed he’s dealing with a bone chip in his elbow...Adam Wainwright reemerges as a top-15 fantasy starter, while Jaime Garcia, who somehow sports a 1.05 WHIP (and a .268 BABIP) with a 2.59 GB/FB over the past two seasons (173.1 innings), finishes as the Cardinals second most valuable starting pitcher. Randal Grichuk hits 25 home runs with 100 RBI.

Francisco Cervelli, who was the best framing catcher in baseball last season, is a big help to Pittsburgh’s staff, but he (and pitching coach Ray Searage) has his work cut out for him in 2016 with the back-end of this staff. Tyler Glasnow can’t be called up soon enough...Will Smith is a lefty who dominates righties and should be just fine if given the chance to take control of the Brewers’ closer’s role, but Corey Knebel is a deep sleeper for saves. Due to injuries, Ryan Braun isn’t a top-20 fantasy outfielder...Joey Votto, who hit .362/.535/.617 after the All-Star break last season, wins the NL batting title, while Jumbo Diaz leads the team in saves. Eugenio Suarez is a top-15 fantasy shortstop, while Billy Hamilton goes down as a bust. Those who buy into the Rasiel Iglesias hype aren’t disappointed.

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NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

2. San Francisco Giants (Wild Card)

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

4. San Diego Padres

5. Colorado Rockies

Comments/Fantasy predictions: Yasiel Puig goes off and is a top-10 fantasy outfielder. (I put my money where my mouth is and bet a few bucks on him to win MVP at 35/1). Over his first 70 games in the majors last season, Joc Pederson hit 19 homers in 234 at bats with a .252/.393/.551 line. From that point forward, he hit just seven home runs over 246 at bats with a .171/.300/.289 line. Clayton Kershaw wins the Cy Young (and finishes as the No. 1 overall fantasy player), while Corey Seager wins Rookie of the Year...Hunter Strickland records the most saves in the Giants’ bullpen, while Buster Posey finishes with the biggest gap between No. 1 and No. 2 at any position in fantasy baseball. Unless your league counts wRC+ as a category, Brandon Belt continues to fall short of fantasy expectations thanks to playing in AT&T Park and platooning with Posey against southpaws. Matt Duffy finishes as a top-seven fantasy second baseman.

Zack Greinke, going from one extreme to the other for both home parks and catchers, isn’t a top-15 starter. Patrick Corbin goes down as one of the bigger SP steals in drafts, while David Peralta finishes as a top-25 fantasy outfielder, ahead of Jason Heyward...Fernando Rodney loses his job as Padres closer by May, while Jabari Blash is a sleeper in NL Only leagues. James Shields bounces back, but Tyson Ross has less value in keeper leagues than his brother...Jose Reyes doesn’t get a single at bat with Colorado in 2016, and Trevor Story takes full advantage of the opportunity. Gerardo Parra finishes with more fantasy value than Carlos Gonzalez, while Jake McGee is a top-15 closer despite pitching for a last place team and in Coors Field.

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Be sure to check back later this week for my American League Preview.

Wild Card: Giants over Cardinals

NLDS: Cubs over Giants, Mets over Dodgers

NLCS: Mets over Cubs

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