Sep 26, 2015, 11:12 AM EDT
Here is a look at Major League Baseball with analysis from Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman and Nationals writer Chase Hughes:
30. Phillies – Zuckerman: (LW: 30) Nice to see Pete Mackanin rewarded with a chance to return as manager in 2016.
29. Braves – Zuckerman: (LW: 29) Worst season in Atlanta since 1990.
28. Rockies – Zuckerman: (LW: 28) Tough to win with a rotation sporting a 5.32 ERA.
27. Reds – Zuckerman: (LW: 27) Will try to improve to 6-0 this season vs. the Nationals in Monday’s makeup game.
26. Athletics – Hughes: (LW: 25) Things you didn’t expect to read in 2015: Barry Zito has been called up from Triple-A to start opposite Tim Hudson of the Giants.
25. Brewers – Zuckerman: (LW: 26) Closing their season with five rookies in their rotation.
24. Marlins – Zuckerman: (LW: 24) In 45 career starts, Jose Fernandez is 21-8 with a 2.23 ERA and 325 strikeouts over 278 innings. Mercy.
23. Tigers – Hughes: (LW: 23) Four managers were hired before the 2014 season: Brad Ausmus, Matt Williams, Lloyd McClendon and Bryan Price. Will any be back in 2016?
22. Padres – Zuckerman: (LW: 22) A team playing in Petco Park can’t have a 4.12 staff ERA.
21. White Sox – Hughes: (LW: 19) Chris Sale has 267 strikeouts in 201 2/3 innings. That’s insane.
20. Red Sox – Hughes: (LW: 21) Boston hired former Braves GM Frank Wren as their VP of baseball operations. He was solid in Atlanta. Good hire.
19. Rays – Hughes: (LW: 17) The Rays are feeling pressure from the Braves, who plan to build a new spring training stadium in St. Petersburg. Pretty interesting stuff.
18. Diamondbacks – Zuckerman: (LW: 20) David Peralta-A.J. Pollack is the best outfield duo in baseball nobody talks about.
17. Mariners – Hughes: (LW: 18) Looks like the M’s are close to hiring a new manager. Hopefully the new one can get more out of top draft prospects.
16. Indians – Hughes: (LW: 15) I mentioned Francisco Lindor in these rankings a few weeks ago, but he just keeps getting better. He’s hitting .321 at just 21 years old.
15. Orioles – Hughes: (LW: 16) Say what you want about Manny Machado, but no one should get thrown at above the shoulders under any circumstance.
14. Nationals – Zuckerman: (LW: 12) The long, slow march through a frustrating year is nearly over. Now, what awaits this winter?
13. Twins – Hughes: (LW: 13) Not sure the Twins have enough to make the playoffs this year, but it has to be refreshing for Minnesota fans to be alive in a pennant race.
12. Giants – Zuckerman: (LW: 11) Hugely disappointing season in San Francisco, but those three rings sure soften the blow.
11. Angels – Hughes: (LW: 14) Mike Trout hit his 40th home run the other day. Is there anything he can’t do?
10. Astros – Hughes: (LW: 10) Houston has already lost control of the division and now looks in danger of making the playoffs altogether.
9. Rangers – Hughes: (LW: 9) The Rangers might be the best story in baseball this year with how long it took them to take over the AL West and how they are doing it all without Yu Darvish.
8. Mets – Zuckerman: (LW: 7) Not exactly cruising toward the NL East title. But the way Nats have played, they don’t need to.
7. Yankees – Hughes: (LW: 8) It was a nice tribute by the Yankees for the late Yogi Berra. He was a true baseball legend.
6. Dodgers – Zuckerman: (LW: 6) Actually have best odds of winning World Series (19.9 percent) according to Fangraphs.
5. Royals – Hughes: (LW: 4) The Royals are built to win for a long time. We’ll see if this is their year.
4. Cubs – Zuckerman: (LW: 5) If they want to ensure at least one postseason game at Wrigley, they’ll probably need to sweep Pirates this weekend.
3. Blue Jays – Hughes: (LW: 2) Bovada has the Blue Jays with the best odds to win the World Series. I don’t know about that, but they will be fun to watch.
2. Pirates – Zuckerman: (LW: 3) From 20 consecutive losing seasons to three consecutive playoff berths. Pretty amazing turnaround in Pittsburgh.
1. Cardinals – Zuckerman: (LW: 1) Could Adam Wainwright wind up a big part of St. Louis’ worn-down bullpen in the playoffs? Would be a remarkable development.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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