Bleacher Report projects that the Braves will not win the NL East in 2022

Ron Washington

How many times do we have to do this song and dance before media pundits realize the Braves own this division?

The analysis is pretty terrible, but it gave me a good chuckle:

Let’s begin this division with a quick history lesson: Seven of the past 11 World Series champions failed to make the postseason the following year, and the only team in the past 20 years to win a World Series and make it back to the fall classic the next year was the 2008-09 Philadelphia Phillies.

So if you’re of the opinion that Atlanta is bound to at least win its division again since it just won a World Series, that’s far from guaranteed.

In fact, it seems a little unlikely with Freddie Freeman, Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall all potentially leaving as free agents, plus the unknowns of when Ronald Acuna Jr. will be able to return from his torn ACL and whether Marcell Ozuna will be allowed to return following domestic violence charges in May. The charges were dropped in September after Ozuna agreed to take part in a diversion program.

Atlanta won’t crash and burn or anything. We’re talking about a franchise that has placed either first or second in the NL East in 75 percent of seasons since the split from two to three divisions. But we’re also talking about a team that only won 88 regular-season games and typically is not a big spender. We’ll see how things shake out this offseason with Freeman in particular, but I suspect Atlanta will slip a bit to a .500-ish record.

Who takes Atlanta’s spot after four consecutive division titles?

After four straight years of hovering around .500, perhaps 2022 will finally be Philadelphia’s time to shine again. The Phillies desperately need to improve their bullpen, but they are in good shape elsewhere with Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler back for another MVP/Cy Young push.

The Mets are probably headed for a sixth consecutive year finishing third or worse in this division. Marcus Stroman, Michael Conforto, Javier Baez, Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Loup and others are all hitting free agency for a team that already has nearly $87 million tied up in just Francisco Lindor, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco and Robinson Cano.

And even though Juan Soto might be the best hitter in all of baseball, the Nationals might be headed for another rough year. That could change if Stephen Strasburg returns from thoracic outlet syndrome at anything close to peak form and if Patrick Corbin can bounce back from a horrific 2021 season.

The Marlins are also all but certain to be a sub-.500 team for the 12th time in 13 years. They have a handful of intriguing young players in infielder Jazz Chisholm and pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers and Pablo Lopez. But even with all four of those guys playing well in 2021, Miami still lost 95 games.

Long story short, it sure looks like this will be the worst division in baseball again.

In a way, I understand when “analytic systems” that are essentially robots project the Braves to finish around .500. They don’t have a brain; they can’t comprehend that, from the top down, the Braves are head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the NL East. Computers also can’t understand what’s going on in a clubhouse or the “vibes” as Joc Pederson would say, so I give the robots a pass. But humans that actually still think this nonsense? They are just idiots.

Go ahead, the Braves were projected to finish third this past season. I was just fine with the results.

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