Players to Watch: N.L. East

Let’s end our week with an eye towards the Right Coast and the N.L. teams that inhabit it. You know the drill.

NL West
NL Central

Starting, as we so normally do, at the top with the Phillies. Let’s go with t3h 4 @ce$! shall we? No. The obvious choice here is Dominic Brown. He’s the Phillies’ top prospect and is the likely replacement for the departed Jayson Werth. Brown struggled in a brief 70 PA stint in the bigs last year, wOBAing just .259 and striking out 38.7% of the time. Brown will be 23 when the season starts and won’t be 24 until September so time is still on his side. Can he cash in on his big prospect status in 2011 or will fans think he’s not WERTH it?!

Atlanta Braves: No more Bobby Cox. That phrase alone is enough to shake my baseball-self to its core. I haven’t known a time in my baseball-life that doesn’t include Bobby Cox. Not seeing him waddle out of the dugout to unleash a vociferous diatribe on an umpire at all in 2011 will leave at least the tiniest of holes in me. No, I’m not saying we should watch new manager Fredi Gonzalez. Dan Uggla‘s going to be on a new team for the first time in his career. Jason Heyward is just an absolute monster. Chipper Jones is going into his (supposed) last season as a pro. But, no, I won’t be paying (a disproportionate amount of) attention to those guys. No, instead, I’m going to be focused on one of my favorite non-Yankee players: Brian McCann. He’s had a wOBA of at least .359 in each of the past three seasons (though it is worth noting his IsoP is falling while his K% is rising, despite a career high BB% last year). Because of Joe Mauer, McCann flies a bit under the radar and I think more attention should be paid to him. I hope he continues his solid run in 2011.

Florida Marlins: Consider me an apologist, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Javier Vazquez. Yeah his 2010 was just awful, but I never stopped rooting for the guy. Now that he’s off the Yankees and on a team that will impact the Yankees in pretty much no way, I’ll be rooting even harder for him. I don’t think I need to rehash just how bad 2010 was for Javy, but I’m hoping for a bounce back in a big way. I’m not going to hold my breath, given the drop in velocity, but moving back to the N.L. should help Javy just a bit.

New York Mets: Carlos Beltran. This dude gets such a bad rap from just about every Mets fan I know, and I can’t figure out why. 2005 was bad, yes, but in ’06-’08, his lowest wOBA was .375 and his lowest fWAR was 3.1 and that was in half a season in 2008 before he got hurt. Even after major surgery, Beltran still managed a .332 wOBA and a .173 IsoP in 2010. His value may take a hit this year because he won’t be playing center field anymore, but he’s been a great bat for the Mets in his time there. If he can stay healthy and resume some of his great hitting, the Mets could actually score some runs in 2011.

Washington Nationals: Like always, Ryan Zimmerman. I don’t think people get how good this dude is. He took a bit of a downturn in 2008, but aside from that, he’s been great. He’s had back to back seasons of at least 6.7 fWAR (6.7 in ’09, 7.2 in ’10) and he won’t turn 27 until September. He’s just about to enter the prime of his career and he’s already raking. Let’s sit back and enjoy the show.

About Matt Imbrogno

A native and resident of the Mean Streets of Southwestern Connecticut, Matt is a narcissistic, misanthropic 20something English teacher who lives by a simple creed: Yankees Only.

2 thoughts on “Players to Watch: N.L. East

  1. Great list. I’m quite interested to see what happens with Vazquez and Beltran. I could see Vazquez bouncing back and getting traded at the deadline, same with Beltran. In fact, if JD Drew does a total faceplant this season, I could see the Red Sox having interest in Beltran.

  2. Linking to your own twitter account in a post? Weak sauce. Good stuff though. I definitely see Javy having a bounceback year in the NL