National League East
The NL East is a pretty competitive division year in and year out. They have had their fair share of wild card berths with 10 of them over the 19 seasons of Pine Tar. Right now they have a good race going at the top of the division as 5 games separate Jacksonville and Philadelphia. Philly is also just 3 games out of a crowded wild card race.
Jacksonville is the team on top of the East heading down the stretch. They will try to make it 5 straight division titles and 13th in franchise history. They've never won 5 in a row before though and this would be a big accomplishment for them. Offensively they have scored the third most runs in the NL with a team built on power. MVP candidate, Andre Fleming, is putting up huge numbers this season. He has 32 homers, 100 RBI, 90 runs, a .345 batting average, .415 OBP, and .594 Slg. Around him the team brings more power from Tony Olmeda(21 hr), Teddy Lemon(22hr), Brian Langford(26hr), Nick Cooper(23hr), and Allen Gruber(28hr). That is a powerful lineup and could help this team make a deep post season run. The pitching has been middle of the league this season. The top 3 in the rotation have been good. Magglio Figureoa(13-9, 3.76), Gerardo Morales(9-8, 3.73), and Max Mateo(9-8, 3.74), all have good ERA's, but the best record belongs to Andres Park(13-7, 4.75). Park's ERA is high, but he finds ways to win. Throw in the addition of Bryant Clayton(3-0, .39) in a trade from Chicago and the rotation looks even better. The bullpen has been solid. They are led by closer Sherman Stevens who has 34 saves in 38 tries and a 3.67 ERA. The pitching staff may be middle of the league, but they have the players to be in the upper half of the league. Jacksonville will be tough to knock from the top of the division and will also be a tough out in the post season.
Philadelphia missed the post season last season after getting a wild card in season 17, but are right back in the mix this season. Right now the are only 5 games out in the division and 3 out of the wild card and could make a run at either one. Offensively they have put up the fifth most runs in the NL this season. They have a good mix of hitting, power and speed on the team. They have Dicky Bartee(.341, .400), Lonny Infate(.335, .412), and Cam Stubbs(.307, .367), with real good averages and OBP's. Then they have Infante(28 hr), Tomas Acosta(24hr), Nate Carter(20hr), and Mandy Whitfield(45 hr), bringing the power. Whitfield has also stolen 39 bases this season and Stubbs has 14, then throw in Carmen Delahanty with 18. Lonny Infante is putting up MVP type numbers and really if Whitfield had a higher average, he would probably run away with the award. Overall, this is a scary offense that can do just about anything asked of it. The pitching rotation hasn't been impressive though. Fred Cooper(12-6, 3.67), and Benji Crespo(9-8, 3.74) have been the only 2 that have consistently got the job done. The bullpen has a few pitchers they can rely on. Osvaldo Tatis(3.06), Matthew Weathers(1.45), Albert Beltran(3.30), Taylor Flier(3.20) and Thumper Young(3.66) have all been shutting down opponents this season. The weakness of this team is the starting rotation, but the offense and the bullpen are doing their part. This team could make a run and get into the post season, but they need the starting pitchers to pick it up some.
Kansas City is on the outside looking in again this season for the 9th straight time. The winning percentage is up, but not enough to get into the post season. The offense this season has been led by Ichiro Pong, 29 hr, 95 RBI, 91 runs, .303 average, .377 OBP, and .527 slg, as he continues to put up Hall of Fame type numbers. He's only 33, so he has some seasons left on him, but his career is definitely on the back 9. The pitching for the team is led by Bobby McCarthy(14-9, 3.62).
Cincinnati was on a roll of 90 win seasons from seasons 13-16, but that seems so long ago now. This looks like it will be a third straight losing season for the franchise. Offensively they have a rookie of the year candidate in Rick Marshall, 15 hr, 62 rbi, 70 runs, .303 average and .374 OBP. Fergie Hill is putting up some really good numbers with 43 hr, 100 rbi, 95 runs and a .261 average. The pitching staff has done nothing of note.