Consider this: In the current run-scoring environment in the majors, a team that scores 800 runs is an elite offense. Only the Rangers and Yankees did it last year, and no National League team has accomplished the feat since the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009. Guess what happens when we eliminate the effects of playing in a team’s home environment? There were two teams in the majors last year who scored more than 400 runs in their 81 road games: The Los Angeles Angels (419) and the San Francisco Giants (410). There is no one I tell that to that isn’t shocked.
Although I haven’t written all of the National League previews yet, during some of my interviews promoting my book, I have been asked about my thoughts on the National League this year. Consistently I have stated that I liked the Dodgers to represent the National League in the World Series this year (against the Rays out of the American League.) One long-time friend of mine familiar with my writings and betting leanings the last couple of years sent me an e-mail that simply read, “Shocker! You like the team that picked up Zack Greinke.”
It may feel like I’m giving Miami the short end of the analysis stick, but I assure you that’s not the case. I’ve already covered them. How, you ask? Well in the Cleveland essay I mentioned that Nick Swisher was replacing 2012’s worst-performing everyday player in the Major Leagues, Casey Kotchman. Just this week, in the Phillies piece I marveled at the fact that Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco collectively hit home runs less frequently that the average National League pitcher. (By the way, I still can’t get over that.)
As a baseball fan/analyst, the NY Mets frustrate me. (Full Disclosure: As a Phillies fan, I have no issues whatsoever with how the Mets ownership operates its franchise.) I’m sure die-hard fans of the Mets feel so habitually tortured and humiliated that a written, comprehensive study of the fan base should be titled Fifty Shades of Shea. (Now that it appears clear that I won’t be appearing on The Daily Show to promote my book, I’m going to empty out all the imagined banter I’d prepared for Jon Stewart. Ball jokes to follow.)
B.J. Upton played centerfield for the Tampa Bay Rays for six full seasons and only once was his performance even low enough to be called league-average (2009). In every other year he’s consistently been an above average player, flirting with All-Star level performance in 2008. He’s pretty established, at age 28, as a very consistent, 4 WAR player. Justin Upton, his younger brother by three years, has a little more volatility and therefore a little more upside as well. In 2011, Justin garnered well deserved MVP support and finished fourth in the balloting. He returned to a roughly league-average level last year and apparently a conflict with Arizona management led to his trade. It was a great pick-up for the Braves as he is signed to a very reasonable contract through 2015. If the Upton brothers each match the best season of their entire career, they will produce 11.4 wins in 2013 – a one game drop compared to the men they are replacing. And, of course, a projection system does not call for them both to have career years in the same season.