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Crazy (?) Predictions for 2016: National League

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Zack Greinke
Zack Greinke
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

It is time for more Crazy Predictions! Take these as seriously as you want: some are somewhat realistic, others are tongue-in-cheek. Can you figure out which is which?

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Atlanta Braves: With the rust worked off, Hector Olivera has a fine season, hitting .282 with 19 homers. John Gant holds a rotation spot by July and leads all National League rookies in FIP. With Tommy John surgery in his rearview mirror, Danny Winkler also has an excellent year, prompting lots of praise for the Braves coaches but insufficient attention to the scouts who recommended that Winkler and Gant be acquired in the first place.

Miami Marlins: David Phelps has a better year than Jose Fernandez. Adeiny Hechavarria hits a combined .347 in April, June, and August, but a combined .174 in May, July, and September. Jeff Loria does something stupid.

New York Mets: Jacob deGrom throws the only National League no-hitter of the season in early April. Michael Conforto has an up-and-down season but hits three homers with nine RBI in a game against the Phillies. Nobody on the Mets steals more than nine bases.

Philadelphia Phillies: .Maikel Franco never hears the words "arm bar" again. Impressive performances from the pitching staff, notably Jeremy Hellickson and Vince Velasquez, and a surprise two-month surge from Ryan Howard keep the Phillies in the pennant chase for much of the season. Eventually it evaporates but the future looks brighter.

Washington Nationals: Michael Taylor builds on his strong spring training and has a blistering first half. He cools down but still finishes at .288/.352/.460. Max Scherzer loses a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning against the Mets on a home run by Lucas Duda. Yusmeiro Petit ends the year in the starting rotation and pitching better than anyone but Scherzer and Steve Strasburg

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs: Addison Russell has a better year with the bat that Jason Heyward. Kyle Hendricks has a better year than Jon Lester. Anthony Rizzo leads all of baseball in RBI. The Cubs win the World Series.

Cincinnati Reds: Billy Hamilton hits inside-the-park home runs on consecutive days in July. Injuries open up playing time for Jose Peraza, who makes the most of it and hits .309 on the season. Raisel Iglesias comes in third in Cy Young balloting despite winning just 13 games, but he ranks fourth in the league in ERA and third in strikeouts and third in WAR.

Milwaukee Brewers: Pitching prospect Josh Hader's outstanding season in the minors convinces many pundits that he can, in fact, be a starter. Chris Carter hits 39 homers but the MVP season won't come until 2017.  Keon Broxton and Rule 5 pick Colin Walsh hold their roster spots all year and become key role players for the 2017 World Champion Brewers.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Juan Nicasio goes 15-7 due to strong run support but pitches well in general with a 3.23 ERA. He finishes with a higher WAR value than Gerrit Cole, who misses two months with nagging injuries. Gregory Polanco hits just 10 homers but sees positive gains in walk rate, OBP, and batting average.

St. Louis Cardinals: Tommy Pham is the best fourth outfielder in baseball. Mike Leake throws two consecutive complete game shutouts in August. Kolten Wong leads the league in batting average until early September. The Cardinals draft a college starting pitcher who everyone thinks will just be a number four guy and turn him into an ace.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks: Zack Greinke will hit .333 with four homers and 10 RBI. Chris Owings will hit more home runs in April than Paul Goldschmidt.  The Diamondbacks will trade their entire international bonus pool to the Oakland Athletics for Carney Lansford, Dennis Ecksersley, Luis Polonia, and Eric Plunk.

Colorado Rockies: Trevor Story hits .320 with 20 homers at home, .178 with three homers on the road. Nolan Arenado pushes past Kolten Wong late to win the National League batting title. Antonio Senzatela leads the Texas League in ERA and K/BB ratio.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Kenta Maeda goes 11-11 due to poor run support but ranks among lead leaders in ERA, FIP, and K/BB ratio. Clayton Kershaw has some moments where he is human. The Dodgers sign an expensive international player. Prospect Jose De Leon is traded at the deadline for a veteran reinforcement who then pitches worse than De Leon does for his new team.

San Diego Padres: Wil Myers stays healthy somehow and puts up a solid line at .287/.349/.460 in 560 at-bats. Matt Kemp has a comeback season, hitting .287/.349/.509. This isn't enough to save the Padres as pitching disappointments hold them back. They spend an enormous amount of money in the international market and blow up their bonus pool, but the best guy turns out to be someone they paid $150,000 for.

San Francisco Giants: The ugly spring training ERAs mean nothing and the pitching staff is just fine. Clayton Blackburn proves his doubters wrong and makes 10 strong starts down the stretch. Brandon Belt has THE SEASON and hits .297 with 29 homers.