How do the Braves stack up to the rest of NL East?

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The NL East has spent more money this offseason than Arthur Blank did on his $250 million superyacht. The Mets went out and traded for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano while simultaneously signing Wilson Ramos and Jed Lowrie. The Nationals ponied up $175 million for Patrick Corbin and added former Braves Anibal Sanchez and Matt Adams. But nobody went crazier than the Phillies, who traded for Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto, signed Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson, and then broke the Twittersphere by inking Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million contract.

The Braves, meanwhile, signed Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann to one-year deals and brought back Nick Markakis. Undeniably, capturing the NL East crown is going to be much more burdensome than a year ago. But as the season begins, who should really be the favorite to conquer the MLB’s toughest division?

5. Miami Marlins

There’s not much to say about the Marlins, other than they are one of the worst run franchises in the history of baseball. They are not trying to win this year, and the whole NL East will be attempting to rack up as many free wins against the Fish as possible.

I’m most looking forward to the first time the Braves see Jose Ureña since he went all Courage the Cowardly Dog on us and plunked Acuña near his head.

4. New York Mets

2019 Projected Lineup:

  1. Brandon Nimmo
  2. Jeff McNeil
  3. Robinson Cano
  4. Michael Conforto
  5. Pete Alonso
  6. Wilson Ramos
  7. Amed Rosario
  8. J.D. Davis

2019 Projected Rotation:

  1. Jacob DeGrom
  2. Noah Syndergaard
  3. Zack Wheeler
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Jason Vargas


There is no disputing this: The Mets have improved significantly, and they have a chance of winning the NL East next season. That felt weird to say…

Last year, New York could not score runs. They finished 12th in the NL in that category and were an even worst 14th (out of 15 NL teams) in team batting average. On paper, they have fixed that, relying on four players to end their scoring woes – Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, Jeff McNeil, and Pete Alonso.

Cano is an eight-time All-Star but has an albatross of a contract attached to him. At 36, he will make $24 million for each of the next five seasons. That will hamper the Mets as they continue to compete in the future, but for now, Cano is still an All-Star caliber player that has shown no signs of slowing down, and remarkably, hasn’t had any significant injuries his entire career. Isn’t there a PED for that?

McNeil is a guy the Mets are excited about, and they have every right to be. He slashed .329/.381/.471 in 63 games as a rookie last year and has been equally as impressive this spring.

Alonso is a former Florida Gator that has been eye-popping in the minors. Now a top 50 prospect, he will get his crack in the majors to begin the season, coming off a 36 home run season between AA and AAA.

The NL East is overly familiar with Wilson Ramos, as the Mets became the third team he has played for within the division. With Ramos, the story is simple: He might be the best offensive catcher in the MLB when healthy, but he rarely stays healthy.

I’m fond of the Mets additions, especially their younger players like Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil. They have Jacob DeGrom, arguably the best pitcher in baseball. But their rotation remains top-heavy, and I’m not sure if relying on a 36-year old Robinson Cano and Wilson Ramos are enough to turn this offense into one of the more prominent in the league. Beyond that, they are the Mets, and as the saying goes (that I made up), “Mets are going to Mets.”

I give them the fourth best odds to win the division.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

2019 Projected Lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen
  2. Jean Segura
  3. Bryce Harper
  4. Rhys Hoskins
  5. J.T. Realmuto
  6. Odubel Herrera
  7. Cesar Hernandez
  8. Maikel Franco

2019 Projected Starting Rotation:

  1. Aaron Nola
  2. Nick Pivetta
  3. Jake Arrieta
  4. Vince Velasquez
  5. Zac Eflin


The Phillies talked about spending “stupid money” this offseason. Unlike the Braves, their front office did not disappoint. Philadelphia went out and patched up their outfield in a substantial way by signing Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper. One can say both of them were overpaid, but regardless, they make Philly a formidable threat to not only win the NL East but the World Series as well.

On top of adding two former MVPs, they traded for the coveted J.T Realmuto, acquired Jean Segura from the Mariners (one of the more underrated moves of the offseason), and brought in David Robertson to sure up their bullpen.

Segura has to be one of the most overlooked players in baseball the last few years. In each of his previous three seasons, he’s hit over .300 with 10+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases, making the All-Star Game for the second time in 2018. Realmuto is arguably the best offensive catcher in the game and could be the best all-around catcher in baseball. The addition of the two puts the Phillies lineup, on paper, as good as anyone’s in the National League.

There pitching staff, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. Aaron Nola is an absolute stud; Jake Arrieta has a track record of success; outside of that, question marks surround the rest of their starting rotation. Can Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, or Vince Velasquez break out? If they are ever going to, it’s about that time.

A year ago, the bullpen was also a significant issue for the Phillies. They finished just behind the Braves in bullpen ERA, and we know first-hand how bad that must have been. Philadelphia’s front office believes they have made the necessary adjustments, but it’s unlikely to be a strong suit.

I have the Phillies with the third best odds to win the East because there is a lot more to winning divisions then spending money. We will see how the chemistry works out between all these high-priced bats. Many times all the hype turns out to be fool’s gold, and with a questionable pitching staff, they are going to need that offense running like a well-oiled machine.

2. Atlanta Braves

2019 Projected Lineup:

  1. Ender Inciarte
  2. Josh Donaldson
  3. Freddie Freeman
  4. Ronald Acuña Jr.
  5. Nick Markakis
  6. Ozzie Albies
  7. Brian McCann
  8. Dansby Swanson

2019 Projected Starting Rotation:

  1. Julio Teheran
  2. Bryse Wilson
  3. Kyle Wright
  4. Sean Newcomb
  5. Max Fried


By listening to the media, you would think the Braves traded away half of their team and went back into rebuild mode. Not a single person on the MLB Network picked the Braves to win the NL East or even capture one of the Wild Card spots.

Let’s call it what it is: Disrespectful. I understand, and I applaud many of the NL East teams for going out this offseason in an attempt to be competitive, but the only team that was competitive last year was the Braves. Atlanta ran away with the NL East, finishing eight games better than the Phillies, and they only got better this offseason.

I would argue Josh Donaldson, even if it is a one-year deal, is the most impactful free agent to join the division this year. Providing he is healthy, Donaldson will make, what was already one of the most productive offenses in the NL a year ago, even more explosive. Add on to that a full season of Atlanta’s phenom, Ronald Acuña Jr., and the development of their young talent – this should be an elite baseball team in 2019.

If there is one reason they don’t claim the top spot, it’s because of their unproven pitching staff. Current injuries make the rotation and bullpen look a lot weaker than they are, but even at full strength, the Braves are relying on a lot of young arms to carry the load. That could be either really good or really bad, depending on how quickly they acclimate. However, that uncertainty is why they do not claim the top spot on this list.

1. Washington Nationals

2019 Projected Starting Lineup:

  1. Adam Eaton
  2. Trea Turner
  3. Anthony Rendon
  4. Juan Soto
  5. Brian Dozier
  6. Ryan Zimmerman
  7. Yan Gomes
  8. Victor Robles

2019 Projected Starting Rotation:

  1. Max Scherzer
  2. Stephen Strasburg
  3. Patrick Corbin
  4. Anibal Sanchez
  5. Jeremy Hellickson


The Nationals were a 100+ win team on paper before the start of last season. Injuries along with chemistry issues caused them to fall flat on their face and finish with 82 wins. However, they deserve to be favorite going into this season once again.

In Washington, it all begins with their starting pitching. This is the best rotation in baseball, featuring three potential Cy Young candidates. The best of those being Max Scherzer.

Scherzer is the leader of this team on and off the field. An absolute competitor that can shut out a team and deliver an RBI double to win the game. He holds this team accountable and is one of my favorite players to watch. The success of this rotation and possibly the team, though, will rely on the man who follows him in the rotation.

Strasburg is and has been an elite talent ever since being drafted out of San Diego State. The problem is he’s never healthy. He’s only started over 30 games once in his career and usually sits around 20. That’s why the Nats went out and spent $175 million on Patrick Corbin and added Anibal Sanchez.

As fantastic as their rotation is, most people may expect a drop off offensively after losing Bryce Harper to the Phillies. I’m not sure that is the case.

They get Adam Eaton back healthy from injury. Trea Turner has turned into an All-Star. We all know Juan Soto is a rising star. And Victor Robles, the Nationals top prospect, will take over Bryce Harper’s spot in the outfield. Robles was regarded as Washington’s best prospect even before Juan Soto played his rookie season – they are that high on him. Let’s not also forget: Bryce Harper hit below .250 a year ago and was a terrible defender. The Nationals could get similar all-around production from Robles.

The NL East is the only division that can say they have four legitimate contenders. Washington claims the first spot on this list because of their outstanding pitching and a lineup that should be just fine without Bryce Harper. But today is finally the day where we can stop all of the speculations and play ball. 



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