2011 MLB Predictions: Philadelphia Phillies Have Arms to Win NL East
2011 MLB Predictions Have Phillies as Clear Favorite in NL East
When you were the favorite to come out of the National League last season and you add an ace in Cliff Lee to complete baseball's new top starting rotation, it's no wonder experts are largely expecting the Philadelphia Phillies to win the NL East.
As Baseball Prospectus' Ben Lindbergh notes, "The Phillies feature the most imposing starting staff in recent memory. Coupling Cliff Lee with defending Cy Young Award-winner Roy Halladay gives them a convincing claim to the top two pitchers in the league, and Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels represent a middle of the rotation which most teams would gladly exchange their aces for."
The Phillies also scored the seventh-most runs in the majors last season, led by a strong group of veterans.
But the biggest question with this team is if these same veterans can stay healthy enough to not only stay on the field, but be productive.
Second baseman Chase Utley starts the season on the disabled list and Jimmy Rollins played in just 88 games last season, the lowest of his career since he started receiving regular playing time in 2001.
But 2010 wasn't anything different for Rollins lately. He's made three trips to the DL in the last three seasons and he's now a clear injury risk.
There's also the departure of outfielder Jayson Werth, who was supposed to be replaced by prospect phenom Domonic Brown before he got hurt this offseason.
The real threat to the Phillies in the East are the Atlanta Braves, who just added second baseman Dan Uggla, who should significantly upgrade their offense.
With a starting rotation of Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens and Brandon Beachy, the Braves are no joke as a potential team to unseat the Phillies.
But it's not all a beach for the Braves.
They also stand to possibly see a significantly downgraded defense, as noted by Lindbergh: "Uggla’s arrival isn’t all good news, as the slugger isn’t known for his leather (at least not in a good way). Between his presence at the keystone, Martin Prado’s forced relocation to left field, and a heavier dose of Chipper Jones at third, the Braves stand to take a hit defensively."
In the end, the Phillies' pitching is just too dominant not to see the squad win the division, even with injuries here and there.
For Joel Reuter's All-NL East team, go here.
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