ESPN has polled its electorate, and from this we learn that only four of its 44 baseball analysts — the Worldwide Leader, as noted often, leads the world in analysts — are picking the Atlanta Braves to repeat as National League East winners. Ninety-one percent of those surveyed believe the Washington Nationals will finish first.
The good news, though, is that 24 of the 44 — more than half! — project the Braves as playoff participants. In addition to the four who pick the Braves over the Nats, 20 tab Atlanta as a wild-card team.
(For the record, the four who pick the Braves to win the East are: Tim Keown, Michael Knisley, Anna McDonald and Jim Caple.)
Now for the bad news. Not one of the 44 believes the Braves will win the World Series, although 30 of the 44 foresee a National League team prevailing. Twelve pick the Nationals, while 11 take the Dodgers and seven the Cardinals. Six pick Tampa Bay, five Detroit, two Boston and one Cleveland.
For the record, I don’t think the Braves will win the East. I did until they lost two starting pitchers to Tommy John surgery in 24 hours, but now I don’t. I do think they’ll win 90 games and grab a wild card, though.