| National League|
Preseason Picks MVP: Jeff Bagwell, 1B, Houston
Rookie of the Year: J.D. Drew, OF, St. Louis
Cy Young: Randy Johnson, Arizona
N.L. Champion: Atlanta Braves
Wild Card: New York Mets
They've won their division the last seven consecutive years (not including the strike year of 1994), and despite the Mets' improvement should continue the streak. They'll need a decent closer to get past the Dodgers in the NLCS, though.
- New York
The Mets could use a healthy, productive season from Bobby Bonilla, but a full year of Mike Piazza, a better than average rotation, and their solid infield defense strengthened by off-season acquisition Robin Ventura will propel them to the postseason even without it.
Workhorse Curt Schilling has averaged 260 innings pitched over the last two years. He'd need to pitch 1,000 for the Phillies to have any shot.
The Expos continue to develop quality young talent for the big market clubs to steal away. Vladimir Guerrero is one of the least talked-about superstars in the game, and this year could be his brother Wilton's breakout year. You can almost hear the Orioles and Yankees chomping at the bit.
They're not good.
The Astros have the best starting pitching in the division and should win it with ease. Ken Caminiti returns to his old club to provide intensity, leadership and some really messed up shoulders, knees and hamstrings.
- St. Louis
The Cardinals will be better on offense and defense this year with the additions of Edgar Renteria, Eric Davis, and a full season of J.D. Drew; but their pitching took a serious blow with the season-ending injury to staff ace Matt Morris. Big Mac could hit 80 and it may not matter.
The Cubs' players have been saying all the right things, like "the loss of just one player won't hurt us too badly." The fact is, losing Kerry Wood for the year all but ruined their chances for the playoffs.
Things were looking up until ace Denny Neagle went on the DL and Pete Harnisch began experiencing back pain. Any hope of cracking the .500 mark involves those two pitchers.
Right fielder Jeromy Burnitz drove in a career-high 125 runs last year. The Brewers' next-highest total was 68. So management went out and got 1B Sean Berry to address their problems. Sorry, wrong answer.
The Pirates are probably the best last-place team in the National League. Though they have no pitching stars, they have as much depth as any staff and former No. 1 pick Kris Benson waiting in the wings.
- Los Angeles
Well there's one thing you can say about team owner Rupert Murdoch — he's really, really rich. He bought himself plenty of talent, but high-priced talent alone doesn't always win. Just ask the Orioles.
Okay, Rupert, I see your Kevin Brown, and I raise you one Randy Johnson, Steve Finley and Todd Stottlemyre. Owner Jerry Colangelo is obviously not one to wait around for young talent to develop.
See last year. Tons of hitting. No pitching. End of story.
- San Francisco
The Giants are perennially picked to finish fourth or fifth in the division but continue to finish higher. Barry Bonds is awesome. With him in the lineup, they're never out of it.
- San Diego
One half of the starting lineup from last year's National League championship team is no longer with them. Their No. 1 and No. 3 starters are gone as well. It's not nearly as bad a scenario as the 1997-98 Florida Marlins, but it's bad enough to hurl them into the basement.