Predicting the unpredictable NL East division
Move aside Atlanta, Philly is finally back in business.
The Washington Nationals have been the only main stay near the top of the NL East for the past five or so years in what has been a relatively weak division. That is all going to change in 2019.
1. Philadelphia Phillies - Maikel Franco has been a disappointment. His average was up last year, but he either needs to hit more home runs, lose some weight, or maybe both. While saying that though, the Phillies finally have enough guys to put him lower in the lineup. Jean Segura might not hit many more than ten homers, but he doesn't need to. If he hits at least .300 like he has the last three years than he is going to be near the top in the league in runs. He'll have Bryce Harper batting right behind him, and I'm pretty sure we all know who he is. Then Rhys Hoskins, who realistically could hit over 40 home runs. Aaron Nola was phenomenal last year, as he finished third in NL Cy Young voting, with a sub one WHIP, 2.37 ERA, and over 220 strikeouts. Among Harper, Segura and J.T. Realmuto, Harper ranked the lowest in incoming WAR. That says something to how valuable both Realmuto and Segura are to their teams. The new additions will lead the Phillies to their first division title and above five hundred season since 2011.
2. Washington Nationals - The Nats weren't great last year with Bryce Harper, so why would they be better without him. It's certainly not going to be because of Trea Turner. I think that Turner might be the most overrated guy in the MLB. I mean just take a look at his numbers: Last year, his first full season, he hit 19 home runs, 73 RBI, and had a slash line of .271/.344/.416 . Why is there so much hype around him besides on the base paths? Now Juan Soto is a different story. Last year he finished 35th in ESPN's MLB Rank, and it seems like he's just getting started. Once again though, it will be their pitching staff that keeps them competitive. I would not be surprised at all if Max Sherzer won a fourth Cy Young, and Stephen Strasburg along with new addition Patrick Corbin will round out a very tough top three. The top three in this division though will be battling it out the entire way, but the Nats will end up falling short.
3. New York Mets - The Mets look like they might actually be competitive, but is this division just too tough for them? If anything, the Mets rotation is the one aspect of their team that could get them into the playoffs. If everyone stays healthy and plays to their potential, then you could be looking at one of the top pitching staff's in the MLB. That is a big if though. It seems every year New York loses a key pitcher, and they have absolutely no one to fill a spot. I really do hope that the Mets are competitive though, because Jacob deGrom is such a talent. He could have won the most improved player along with the Cy Young last year. His ERA went from 3.53 in 2017, to 1.70 last season. Unfortunately there is just no consistency in their offense. They only had six batters play in at least 100 games last year. Robinson Cano is a nice addition, but there is no way that he is going to fix an offense that finished 23rd in runs scored in 2018. The Mets are going to be plagued by a division just too tough for them, and once again disappoint.
4. Atlanta Braves - I hate to do this to Braves fans right after they won the division, but I just don't think that they have enough firepower to repeat. There is still a chance that they take home the division crown. They might not have the marque name players, but they have serious depth. Freddie Freeman finished second in the MLB in hits, and had 98 RBI. Nick Markakis had 93 RBI, Ronald Acuna Jr. had 26 home runs in just 111 games while winning the 2018 Rookie of the Year, and Ozzie Albies had 24 home runs. Offseason addition Josh Donaldson is perennially an MVP threat when healthy, but played only 52 games in 2018. The Braves rotation is above average, but doesn't have an elite potential. They are solid, but aren't going to be a staff that puts the Braves over the edge. Unfortunately for Atlanta, they are in a tough division, and are going to be competitive, but not strong enough to make the playoffs.
5. Miami Marlins - Derek Jeter has changed a lot of things in Miami, but the quality of his team has still not improved. The Marlins have never won a division title despite winning two World Series, and that is certainly not going to happen this year. Last year Miami was dead last in runs scored, and 24th in runs against. To top it all off, they traded J.T. Realmuto away, who was their best player. Next to the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals, Miami was the worst team in baseball. There is no bright spot besides maybe they can get the first overall draft pick. Literally, that is it. There is nothing else to say.
Comment below who you think will win this division!