The National League East Dream Lineup reflects the nature of the division. Unlike the American league divisions, marauding bands of sluggers do not populate the NL East. The lineup is righty heavy and most of the team has 20-20 capability.
1. David Wright New York Mets Bats: R 5 (3rd Base)
David Wright leading off? What in the name of Jeff Torborg is going on? Of all the players in the lineup, Wright profiles the best at leadoff. His .391 on base percentage was sixth in the National League last year. Wright gets the big Madoffs to slug for the Mets, last year Wright increased his double total while still hitting 21 home runs, raising his slugging percentage to .492. The two time gold glove winner is a solid defender, but sometimes suffers from a case of the Mackey Sassers.
2. Justin Upton Atlanta Braves Bats: R 7 (left field)
2013 is an odd year, so is Justin Upton due for a good season? In 2009 and 2011, Upton averaged 27 home runs and 87 RBI. In even years 2010 and 2012 he averaged 10 less homers and 20 less ribbies. Upton has always been a reasonable bet to approach 20 steals. At the end of 2011 he won a Silver Slugger, at the end of 2012 he was deemed expendable in exchange for Martin Prado.
3. Adam LaRoche Washington Nationals Bats: L 3 (1st base)
The baseball Rodney Dangerfield has always produced, but garnered very little attention. Since 2006 the former 29th round pick has put up at least 80 RBI and 21 home runs, except an injury marred 2011. During last year’s Silver Slugger season, La Roche drove in 100 runs for the second time in three seasons and mashed 32 home runs, slugging a respectable .510.
4. Giancarlo Stanton Miami Marlins Bats: R 9 (right field)
Stanton is the only true slugger in the lineup, and the division. His 6’5” frame produces tremendous swing speed and tape measure distance home runs. In only 123 games in 2012, Stanton hit 37 home runs, driving in 86 runs. Imagine the damage the aptly named “Bigfoot” would have done in a full season or with a better team. His .608 slugging percentage led the National League.
5. B.J. Upton Atlanta Braves Bats: R 8 (center field)
The Atlanta Braves showered B.J. Upton with a $75 million, 5 year contract, parting ways with Michael Bourn, who they did not feel had enough pop in his bat. The 28 year Upton old had his best slugging season since 2007, belting 28 home runs and stealing 31 bags. His slugging percentage has increased each year since 2009, a trend the Braves hope continues.
6. Ian Desmond Washington Nationals Bats: R 6 (shortstop)
In his third full season, Desmond enjoyed a breakout campaign. Entering his prime at age 27, Desmond slugged at a .511 clip with 27 home runs and 21 steals. The 2012 Silver Slugger shortstop has a bit of a tin glove, but his power and speed combination are worth the occasional fielding misadventure.
7. Carlos Ruiz Philadelphia Philadelphia Phillies Bats: R 2 (catcher)
The Philly backstop has quietly carved out three solid seasons. Despite some injuries, 2012 was a career year for Ruiz. He hit 16 home runs in only 372 at bats and slugged .540 for Charlie Manuel’s crew. His batting average topped .300 for the second time in three years. After he returns from a 25 game amphetamine suspension in late April, Chooch should be ready to roll.
8. Danny Espinosa Washington Nationals Bats: R 4 (second base)
Espinosa takes the NL East second base crown by Wally Pipp-ing Chase Utley and beating out fellow whiff maven Dan Uggla. Espinosa offers a decent power and speed package for a middle infielder, but should cut down on his swing and look to make contact more often. He hit 17 home runs while batting .247 and stealing 20 bases.
9. Stephen Strasburg Washington Nationals Bats: R 1 (pitcher)
No DH in the senior circuit, so our pitcher hits. Though no Micah Owings, Strasburg slugged at a respectable .426 and won the National League Silver Slugger for pitchers.
Tags: NL East Season Preview