NL pennant race still goes through Atlanta

March 19, 2002 6:08 AM
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The Arizona Diamondbacks won one of baseball’s most thrilling World Series last year, but once again Atlanta appears the team to beat.

Here’s a rundown of the best bets to either surpass or fall short of this year’s win totals as projected by Las Vegas Sports Consultants.

Atlanta (88-74): Will Gary Sheffield be worth five more wins? Probably so, but the question will be how he will do in the clubhouse? The Braves will be in the mix, but this team is aging. UNDER.

St. Louis (93-69): Tino Martinez replaces Mark McGwire as the everyday first baseman. Matt Morris and young Bud Smith lead a dynamic pitching staff. Cards should at least match last year. OVER.

Chicago (88-74): With the prospect of Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa in the same outfield, you have to believe the Cubs can at least match last year. OVER.

NY Mets (82-80): Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar join what is the most explosive lineup in franchise history. The question is pitching, which has always been the strength. The expectations are high. Still, 90 wins is achievable. OVER.

Los Angeles (86-76): We love the deal with Atlanta sendding a solid team-player like Brian Jordan to the Dodgers. Kevin Brown will be brought along carefully to protect that arm, but Kazuhisa Ishii has been brilliant this spring. If Ishii is this year’s Ichiro, look for LA to breeze past 82. OVER.

Arizona (92-70): The injury to Matt Williams is devastating and could cost the D’backs a shot at surpassing last year’s win mark. The staff is awesome with healthy Todd Stottlemyre joining Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in the rotation. The key is whether Byung-Hyun Kim can close. Too many unknowns to believe Arizona will reach 90. UNDER.

San Diego (79-83): Third baseman Sean Burroughs is a can’t miss rookie sensation.  The Padres have the balance to exceed the .500 mark. OVER.

Montreal (68-94): Vladimir Guerrero is awesome, but it’s hard to imagine any success for a team nobody wants. UNDER.

NL OVER / UNDER WINS

  TEAM  

OPEN

  ATLANTA  

92½

  ST. LOUIS  

91½

  ARIZONA  

90½

  HOUSTON  

90½

  NY METS  

89½

  CHI CUBS  

87½

  SAN FRANCISCO  

87½

  PHILADELPHIA  

84½

  LOS ANGELES  

82½

  SAN DIEGO  

80½

  FLORIDA  

79½

  COLORADO  

75½

  CINCINNATI  

75½

  MILWAUKEE  

70½

  MONTREAL   70½

  PITTSBURGH

65½