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Early National Picks: Phillies Not Favored

I predicted the Phillies are in great shape to defend their world championship.

Most people, however, don’t believe this is true.

Last season the Braves were on everyone’s mind. This season the 72-win Braves are again picked by many to finish above the 92-win Phillies; meanwhile, almost all experts love the Mets’ chances to finally take back the National League East.

Two of Beyond the Box Score’s writers have the Phillies winning the East. Three, however, think the Braves will overtake the Phils and push them to third place. Explanation from Graham Goldbeck:

Early injury to Cole Hamels does not bode well, his large workload increase last year may already be showing. I think the Braves rotation has made enormous strides, more on the Lowe side than the Vazquez side (a player can only underachieve his FIP for so long before something is just up). The Mets are just the most solid team all around and since they’ve held the divisional lead in Sept. two years running now, third time should be the charm right?

I understand the concern about Hamels, but didn’t Johan Santana have the exact same concerns a week before Hamels? Yes the Braves improved with Lowe, but is he (and Vazquez) enough to push them from 72 to approximately 88 wins? And the Mets are not the “most solid team all around.” Sorry. They have glaring holes (outfield, rotation, middle relief) that the Phils don’t have.

At CBS Sportsline two of the four writers like the Phillies in the East, while the other two like the Mets. Three have the Phillies in the playoffs, but none say pennant. For what it’s worth, three of the four writers think it’s finally the Cubs’ year to win the whole thing.

And at SI.com, four of their 13 writers like the Phillies. All other nine? Mets. At least 12 of the 13 think the Phillies will make the playoffs (12 of the 13 writers like either the Phils or Mets to take the Wild Card). Two of their writers like the Phillies in the National League.

So yes, after winning two consecutive division championships, an NL pennant and a world championship, the Phillies are … yet again … solid underdogs.

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