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THE PAYOFF PITCH ...
JOE LEMIRE
March 26, 2012
BEST CASE
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March 26, 2012

The Payoff Pitch ...

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WORST CASE

Werth repeats last year's poor performance, Morse's 2011 proves a fluke, and Harper struggles enough after his much-hyped call-up that he's returned to the minors.

BEST CASE

Jason Heyward hits like he did in 2010 (.849 OPS), not in '11 (.708), and Brandon Beachy lives up to Bill James's prediction that he will be baseball's second-best starter. Atlanta wins its first division title since '05.

WORST CASE

With essentially the same lineup that didn't score enough last year, the Braves don't score enough this year. The retooled Marlins and Nationals leapfrog Atlanta, which falls to fourth.

BEST CASE

David Wright, Jason Bay, Lucas Duda and Ike Davis take advantage of the moved-in Citi Field fences, and Johan Santana pitches like a $24 million ace. The Mets are in the hunt for the second wild card until August.

WORST CASE

The rest of a hypercompetitive division overwhelms the Mets, who lose 100 for the first time since 1993. Wright is traded, and attendance dwindles further, leaving Citi Field desolate.

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