Ranking N.L. Title Contenders Post-Trade Deadline
Last week I took a look at re-ranking the top three World Series title contenders in the American League post-trade deadline.
This week, we’re taking a look at how the National League shakes out, and also factoring in who has some prospect help in the way (the new version of waiver trade pickups, if you will) to boost their respective chances.
There seemingly wasn’t as much impact big-league impact that made its way into the N.L., as the deadline’s big prize (Zack Greinke) headed to the Astros, and while Trevor Bauer landed in Cincinnati, big league starters were exchanged to get him.
Of note, while I do consider the Mets’ Marcus Stroman pick-up a deadline pickup, and despite their recent surge, I don’t consider them one of the top World Series contenders in the National League.
All stats via Baseball Reference, as of 8/8/19
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are nearly 10 games better than any other National League team, and their essential doughnut at the deadline doesn’t change that. Sure, the Dodgers didn’t land Felipe Vazquez at the deadline like everyone assumed they would, but the team is still rolling and primed to succeed in October.
Dustin May (Apparently to be known as ‘Big Red’ and not ‘Gingergaard’) recently made his big league debut, and looks like he could be the impact late season pickup that the Dodgers were hoping they could get dealing for Vazquez.
The only thing that could stop the Dodgers is the health of their pitching, with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler, and Clayton Kershaw all carrying injury histories with them. The team is so stacked with offense (Bellinger, Muncy, Pederson, etc) that they could possibly lose an arm and still be fine, but a few poorly timed injuries and they could actually be in trouble.
2. Chicago Cubs
While the Cubs aren’t even a lock to make the post-season, with a 3.0 game lead in the Central, and haven’t been as good as the Braves this season, I still think they’re the #2 choice to win the World Series in the N.L.
This team has a combination of experience & star offensive output that could get hot in late-September and ride that to a World Series title. Even Jason Heyward of all people is hitting, plus they added Nick Castellanos at the deadline (presumably to platoon with Kyle Schwarber, giving the Cubs the worst defensive LF platoon in baseball, but one that mashes).
The Cubs’ rotation is the big worry. It’s old and it’s not performing entirely to its peak. Cole Hamels just came back from injury, Yu Darvish seems like a coin flip these days, and Jon Lester has an ERA nearly a run above his career average. It’s really surprising that the Cubs didn’t go get a starter or multiple impact bullpen arms at the deadline.
3. Atlanta Braves
The deadline was productive for Atlanta, who acquired Shane Greene (in the middle of a career year), Chris Martin, and former All-Star Mark Melancon to overhaul their bullpen, which we’ve seen really matters in the postseason.
The Atlanta rotation on the surface doesn’t look like a World Series juggernaut, but is solid (young ace Mike Soroka, potentially past-their-prime but solid Julio Tehran & Dallas Keuchel, and the talent of Max Fried/Mike Foltynewicz) but their offense is the calling card.
After some injury troubles, Josh Donaldson has had a great bounce-back on a one-year contract (3.8 WAR) and Ronald Acuna is an MVP contender (albeit a distant 3rd from Belli/Yeli). The Braves are young & exciting, but with enough veteran leadership that they could make a run.
By Kyle Bandujo