The Hot Corner- Midseason Report Card 2010: National League

The Hot Corner – Midseason Report

by: Ryan McKenna and Guest Columnist Patrick McKenna

The dog days of summer days are finally upon us: school is finally out, the beautiful beach weather is here, and the boys of summer are in full swing.  The first half of the 2010 MLB season has brought us many great storylines including perfect games, no-hitters, some surprising teams, and the emergence of some great players.  With the All-Star game marking the mid-way point of this 2010 MLB season, we take a look back at the first half of the season and evaluate each team to this point.  In this second part of this three part series, we evaluate each team in the National League.

NL East

Atlanta Braves Patrick Ryan
1st Place 52-36 0 GB
Grade: A- A+
Team MVP: Tim Hudson Tim Hudson
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: The Atlanta Braves are making Bobby Cox’s last season as manager a good one.  They came out of the gate this year with solid hitting from All-Stars Martin Prado and Omar Infante, while Tim Hudson has bounced back nicely from being injured in the first part of last year. Look to see if Alex Gonzalez will be a good fit for the Braves in the 2nd half.
Prediction: 3rd 2nd

New York Mets Patrick Ryan
2nd Place 48-40 4.0 GB
Grade: B A
Team MVP: David Wright David Wright
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: The Mets have surprised most with their bounce back year in 2010.  David Wright has proved to be the leader for the Mets both offensively and defensively while Jason Bay’s power numbers aren’t exactly where he would like them to be (HR) but he is driving in runs; 44 RBI’s, good for second on the Mets team. Keys to the 2nd half include continued quality starts by the pitching staff as well as staying healthy; don’t forget Carlos Beltran who is coming back from injury.  He could make or break the Mets in 2010.
Prediction: 2nd 3rd

Philadelphia Phillies Patrick Ryan
3rd Place 47-40 4.5 GB
Grade: B B
Team MVP: Roy Halladay Roy Halladay
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: The Phillies have had their ups and down’s in the first half.  The bats are not clicking at times leading to the offense not being able to generate runs.  If the Phillies are going to make a push like we predict they will, the starting pitching will be something that needs to be addressed before July 31st.
Prediction: 1st 1st

Florida Marlins Patrick Ryan
4th Place 42-46 10.0 GB
Grade: C+ C-
Team MVP: Josh Johnson Josh Johnson
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: Josh Johnson was the cornerstone to the Marlins 42 wins in the first half.  He is in the top 5 of most pitching categories in the National League and has some nasty stuff as we seen in the All-Star game last night.  Now that the Marlins managing debate is over for the time being, we still don’t think it will be good enough for a late surge for the division or wild card.
Prediction: 4th 4th

Washington Nationals Patrick Ryan
5th Place 39-50 13.5 GB
Grade: C C-
Team MVP: Adam Dunn Steven Strasburg
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: Strasburg fever has finally landed in Washington.  Strasburg hasn’t been too bad so far in the Majors and he is bound to just get even better.  The Nationals need to find a way to score runners on base and who knows, Bryce Harper could be that guy…if they ever sign him.  Enjoy the winter Nationals because it’s going to be another long one again this year.
Prediction: 5th 5th

NL Central

Cincinnati Reds Patrick Ryan
1st Place 49-41 0 GB
Grade: B+ A+
Team MVP: Joey Votto Joey Votto
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: The Reds were one of MLB biggest surprises in the first half.  Joey Votto along with the resurgence of Scott Rolen has landed Cincinnati in a good position starting off the second half.  If those two players along with the return of suspended Edison Volquez can play well for the Reds, look for them in October.
Prediction: 2nd 2nd

St. Louis Cardinals Patrick Ryan
2nd Place 47-41 1.0 GB
Grade: B A-
Team MVP: Adam Wainwright Jaime Garcia
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: Many of you are looking at Ryan’s Team MVP and saying: “..who?”.  Jaime Garcia, in his second year, is quietly having a solid season behind All-Stars Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals starting rotation.  The big key for the Cardinals down the stretch and in the post-season, is to stay healthy.  They have loads of talent on their team and we believe they are almost there in regards to making it back to the World Series.
Prediction: 1st 1st
Milwaukee Brewers Patrick Ryan
3rd Place 40-49 8.5 GB
Grade: C+ C
Team MVP: Corey Hart Corey Hart
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: The next couple weeks will be crucial for the Brewers in regards to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.  If the Brewers stumble, look for 1st half standout Corey Hart to find himself on another team come July 31st.  If any run to catch the Cardinals and Reds is imminent, the Brewers will need starting pitching as only two of their five starters have above .500 records.
Prediction: 3rd 3rd
Chicago Cubs Patrick Ryan
4th Place 39-50 9.5 GB
Grade: D F
Team MVP: Marlon Byrd Carlos Silva
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: No one in the Seattle Mariners would have thought that Carlos Silva would have had a better first half than Milton Bradley when you compare that off-season trade, but he is; starting the 2nd half with 9 wins.  Silva and Marlon Byrd are really the only two bright spots for this disastrous season. The lovable losers’ key to the 2nd half is to keep Carlos Zambrano out of the media or trade him.
Prediction: 4th 4th
Houston Astros Patrick Ryan
5th Place 36-53 12.5 GB
Grade: F F
Team MVP: Brett Myers Gustavo Chacin
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: Are you kidding me? Gustavo Chacin? Batting 1.000??? This is true folks and really, who else would is worthy of being put as Team MVP? (According to Ryan).  The Astros NEED to swing a deal for Roy Oswalt in the second half, and get some young talent in there. If not, Ed Wade is in big trouble.
Prediction: 5th 5th
Pittsburgh Pirates Patrick Ryan
6th Place 30-58 18.0 GB
Grade: F- F
Team MVP: Sidney Crosby Andrew McCutchen
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: What else is new? The Pirates and Astros are in a see-saw battle for 5th and 6th in the NL Central! Wait. What? Sidney Crosby? The golden home run!? Moving on…Akinori Iwamura was a complete bust for the Pirates and really, there’s not too much else that the Pirates are worthy to talking about.
Prediction: 6th 6th

NL West

San Diego Padres Patrick Ryan
1st Place 51-37 0 GB
Grade: B+ A
Team MVP: Mark Latos Bullpen
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: The BIGGEST surprise in Major League Baseball in the first half, the San Diego Padres, caught everyone by surprise when they were still in first place after the first month.   If the Padres look to keep it going for the remaining two and a half months they will need their starting pitchers to continue with quality starts and get that ball to the bullpen that has been lights out.
Prediction: 4th 2nd
Colorado Rockies Patrick Ryan
2nd Place 49-39 2.0 GB
Grade: B B+
Team MVP: Ubaldo Jimenez Ubaldo Jimenez
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: The Rockies ace for years to come has absolutely took the league’s hitters and has made them look silly.  At 15-1, Ubaldo looks like he’s in store for 30 wins this year.  The rest of the Rockies just need to keep runs coming for their pitchers, and if they can do that, look for them to have a great second half like last year.
Prediction: 1st 4th
Los Angeles Dodgers Patrick Ryan
3rd Place 49-39 2.0 GB
Grade: B- B
Team MVP: Andre Eithier James Loney
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: The Dodgers didn’t have a bad first half and are in good position to start the second half. Pitching hasn’t been too bad but is definitely still the question mark for the Dodgers down the stretch and in October.
Prediction: 2nd 1st
San Francisco Giants Patrick Ryan
4th Place 47-41 4.0 GB
Grade: C+ C+
Team MVP: Aubrey Huff Aubrey Huff
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: The Giants were so-so in the first half with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain struggling somewhat in the first half.  Buster Posey has emerged as an everyday player and that lead to Bengie Molina being shipped to the Lone Star state.  If the Giants are going to make a run at the division or wild card, Barry Zito will need to re-find that dominance he had to start the year, as well as lots of “UUUUUUUUUUUU” calls when Juan Uribe gets up to the plate.
Prediction: 3rd 3rd
Arizona Diamondbacks Patrick Ryan
5th Place 34-55 17.5 GB
Grade: D F
Team MVP: Chris Young Dontrelle Willis
Analysis/Keys to the 2nd Half: The D’backs had a terrible first half leading them to fire their manager and general manager.  There’s not too much to expect from the D’backs in the second half although they may be sellers at the trade deadline.
Prediction: 5th 5th