If you had asked any baseball expert in the world what the toughest division in baseball would be this year, almost all of them would have responded with the NL East.
The Mets were already a pretty good team, and they were the biggest spenders this offseason. The Nats are just two years removed from a championship and were expected to bounce back after a lousy 2020 that included a bevy of injuries. The Phillies have talent up and down their lineup and a fearsome one-two punch at the top of their rotation. Even the freaking Marlins were in the NLDS last season. And, of course, the Braves finished just a run shy of conquering the Dodgers and earning a trip to the World Series.
The NL East was supposed to be a gauntlet with 4-5 potential playoff teams clawing it out until the very end, but so far, it’s been much more like a friendly pillow fight. The Mets are the only team over .500, sitting at 7-6, and they’ve lost three out of their last four to the Cubs and Rockies, two teams that aren’t particularly good. The Marlins are the only team with a positive run differential, with a +4 mark, while the Nationals (-20) and Mets (-14) have been outscored by double-digits.
Once again, this is yet another example of how early season results can misrepresent things. I think a couple of these teams (like the Braves) are much better than what they have shown thus far. However, I will say that perhaps this division will not be as challenging as we once thought. The Nationals look to have some pretty severe issues, and I’m not sure the Phillies or Marlins have what it takes to win more than 85 games. I think the Mets have too much talent not to string together some wins, but this really could end up being a two-team race, even if it doesn’t look that way after the first few weeks.