We’re less than 96 hours away from MLB Opening Day and the hype machine is running at dangerous levels.
What better time for a balls-out National League predictions column?
Within you’ll find predictions on everything from specific team records to precise player stat lines, from Rookie of the Year picks to playoff breakdowns for every series.
The best part? Every prediction is guaranteed to be 100 percent spot on. You can take it to the bank.
New York: 77-85
Florida will surprise people and pace the National League in wins, barely out-running another strong Philadelphia Phillies club led by new ace Roy Halladay.
The Braves will stay in the playoff hunt, but when things are said and done, won’t have the firepower to stay with the premier teams in the National League.
St. Louis: 88-74
A top-heavy talent core of Pujols, Holliday, Wainwright, and Carpenter lead the Cardinals to another playoff berth. Cincinnati surprises and makes a push for second place in the division over a declining Chicago club.
Los Angeles: 90-72
San Francisco: 85-77
San Diego: 61-101
Colorado is the strongest all-around team here, with the Dodgers in need of pitching help, the Giants in need of lineup help, and the other two teams needing help everywhere else.
Home Run Leader: Adrian Gonzalez (Padres) 48 HR — Gonzalez continues to carry San Diego’s offense, producing in a pitcher’s park at a monstrous rate.
Stolen Base Leader: Michael Bourn (Astros) 54 SB – He can’t quite match last year’s total of 61, but Bourn is the premier base stealer in the National League, and it’s not close.
Batting Champ: Todd Helton (Rockies) .344 AVG – Helton makes a comeback and emerges as a vintage offensive force, without much power, of course. The Rockies’ deep lineup takes the pressure off Helton and he flourishes in the new role.
Strikeout Leader: Tim Lincecum (Giants) 244 K – I’m going to go out on a limb and say Lincecum comes down to earth a little bit after last season. He will maintain his status as one of the top three or four starters in the game, but won’t be able to match totals from the last two seasons.
ERA Leader: Josh Johnson (Marlins) 2.56 ERA – The Marlins ace puts up a stellar season, besting Lincecum and Roy Halladay (Phillies) by a few percentage points.
Saves Leader: Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers) 46 SV – Broxton’s lock-down relief pitching garners him a good chunk of votes for NL Cy Young, but not quite enough to pull off the upset.
Catcher – Brian McCann (Braves)
First Baseman – Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
Second Baseman – Chase Utley (Phillies)
Shortstop – Hanley Ramirez (Marlins)
Third Baseman – Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals)
Outfield – Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Justin Upton (Diamondbacks), and Ryan Braun (Brewers)
NL MVP – Albert Pujols (Cardinals)- I really tried to choose someone else, but barring injury or some other unforeseen act of God, it’s hard to imagine anyone coming close to Pujols-level production. Second place goes to Joey Votto (Reds) in an impressive breakout year.
NL Cy Young: Josh Johnson (Marlins) – Obviously, this won’t be a popular choice, but as great as Lincecum and Halladay are, I see the Marlins’ ace taking a large step forward and carrying the young team to another playoff berth.
NL Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward (Braves) - He will win, but he won’t be as good as people are saying. Mike Stanton (Marlins) and Madison Bumgarner (Giants) will give him a run.
Comeback Player of the Year: Johan Santana (Mets) - I get it. He wasn’t that bad last season when he was on the mound. This season, I’ll predict he gets 32 starts and puts up an ERA under 3.00, finishing top four in Cy Young voting.
Most Surprising Player: Colby Rasmus (Cardinals) - Rasmus will come out of the gate on fire, picking up an easy all-star selection and hitting a respectable .290. His power will start to come as well, and Rasmus may finish close to 30 home runs.
Most Disappointing Player: Mark Reynolds (Diamondbacks) - The good news is, Reynolds won’t break his own strikeout record this year. That said, he also won’t hit 44 home runs again and he won’t be able to match his paltry .260 batting average from last season.
Final Heyward Line: .281, 23 HR, 79 RBI
Final Strasburg Line: 8-6, 4.49 ERA, 112 SO, 59 BB
Final Pujols Line: .331, 39 HR, 126 RBI
Final Hanley Line: .312, 25 HR, 98 RBI, 41 SB
Final Votto Line: .326, 37 HR, 131 RBI
Final Lincecum Line: 17-6, 2.83 ERA, 244 SO
Final J. Johnson Line: 19-7, 2.56 ERA, 208 SO
Philadelphia vs. Colorado – The Phillies win another tight series against Colorado with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels leading the way.
Florida vs. St. Louis – Florida disposes of St. Louis in four games. Carpenter gets lit up in his start.
Philadelphia vs. Florida – Despite finishing behind Florida in the standings, Philadelphia moves on to the World Series in six tight games. Their experience and strong starting pitching gets the job done for the third year in a row.
Philadelphia vs. Boston – Philadelphia beats up a Boston team led by resurgent seasons from Josh Beckett and David Ortiz. The Phillies take out the Red Sox in seven games.