National League Champion
Chicago Cubs (33%)
Also Receiving Votes: St. Louis Cardinals (27%), Pittsburgh Pirates (15%), New York Mets (15%), Los Angeles Dodgers (9%)
The last time the Chicago Cubs won the National League Pennant, World War Two had just wrapped up a few months prior, and Harry Truman had only been President since April. Since then, the Cold War has been fought, the Berlin Wall was built and taken down, Bill Clinton has been born, elected governor of Arkansas, elected President of the United States, and has been out of office for over a decade. Needless to say, it’s been a while. And though the margin certainly wasn’t terribly large, Baseball Essential writers voted the Cubs to make the World Series. Led by as good a 1-2 punch in the Majors in Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, and a young squad of players headlined by Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, the Cubs may just shock some people.
The Cardinals, who led the Major Leagues in wins, and are just two years removed from a World Series berth are looking as strong as ever, as Adam Wainwright may be healthy enough to join the Cardinals on another postseason run. The Pirates, after narrowly going down to eventual NL Champion Cardinals in the 2013 NLDS, suffered a heartbreaking loss at home against the eventual World Series Champion Giants during last year’s NL Wild Card Game. However, led by Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, and Mark Melancon, the Pirates could be this year’s stealth team, similar to the Giants and the Royals last year. The Mets, after acquiring Yoenis Cespedes, have been as strong as any team in the league, led by strong starting pitching from one of the most impressive groups of starters since Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz for the Braves in the 1990s. The Los Angeles Dodgers have two of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. Though depth issues remain in the back of the rotation, the Dodgers appear to be strong enough to sustain a lasting run in this year’s playoffs.