How will the National League look at the end of the season?
Yesterday, we offered up five bold predictions for the American League in 2022. Now, let’s turn our attention to the National League.
There has been a LOT of player movement in the NL, from the first base swaps of Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers and Matt Olson to the Braves and the additions to the Mets’ rotation. Philly added a couple big bats as well. The playoff races are wide open.
So what will we be talking about in November? Here are five bold predictions for the NL this season.
Chris Bassitt will lead the Mets’ staff in wins
Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer might finish 1-2 in Cy Young voting this season. But more times than not, they’ll be facing the opposition’s ace.
Meanwhile, Bassitt was an All-Star for Oakland last year and could be an Opening Day starter in probably 20 other cities. He’s got ace stuff, but is slotting in as the Mets’ third starter. That’s a great spot to win games and make that trade a huge win for the Mets.
Pittsburgh’s youth is served
Last year, the Pirates promoted third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes and he gave their fans something to be excited about. This year, shortstop Oneil Cruz has the opportunity to do the same.
We’re so high on Cruz, we’re picking him to win the National League’s Rookie of the Year Award in 2022. The Pirates aren’t going to win many games, but the left side of their infield is going to be terrific.
Oneil Cruz just crushes moonshots. pic.twitter.com/gKbdoeOIdS
— MLB (@MLB) March 21, 2022
The NL East winner will be decided in October
With the regular season ending in October this year, a the chance a division race isn’t decided until the final day, we could be in for some drama. And the expanded playoffs open the door for excitement down the stretch.
The National League East could land four teams in the playoffs. They could also beat each other up so much that only two teams get in. But the division is so good, we don’t think we’ll be able to crown a winner until the final days of the regular season.
The biggest name to be traded is…
The Chicago Cubs are still in rebuild mode and did well to add what appears to be terrific organizational depth at the deadline last year. But they have one more piece from their World Series lineup that’s still around who could bring back significant value.
We’re betting Willson Contreras is dealt at some point this season. There aren’t many catchers with his package of athleticism and arm strength — and championship experience — in the league, and he could fetch a pretty ransom.
The MVP goes to…
There will be plenty of options in the NL this year, starting with the reigning MVP, Bryce Harper.
But there’s a chance Freeman and Mookie Betts take votes away from each other in LA. And the offense around Harper could provide alternatives for votes in Philly.
Ronald Acuna Jr. will be there if he can stay healthy. Nolan Arenado could benefit from a more mature lineup in St. Louis. And someone on the Mets — maybe Francisco Lindor? — could step up and have a big year worthy of the conversation.
But we’re going to pick Juan Soto to win the NL Most Valuable Player this year. He might bat second for the Nationals and has Nelson Cruz protecting him in the lineup now. He might be the best pure hitter in the game, and could have a huge season.