In the most recent edition of MLB Predictions, we took a look at the high octane American League, broke down the three divisions, and gave a reason as to why both Wild Card teams will come from the AL East this season. (For those that may have missed it, here’s a chance to look back on the AL predictions).
Now, it’s the senior circuit’s turn to be broken down. Again, the theme of today’s breakdown is transparency. Seriously, Sesame Street, give me a call. We’ll work out a sponsorship on that word. But it’s true that transparency will be used, once again, here to digest the National League’s best teams.
National League East
2. Phillies (WC)
Transparency of NL East: Four Of These Teams Could Win The Division
That prevailing thought here is, “That’s obvious. At the start of the season, every team has a chance to win the division.” That isn’t entirely true here. The Marlins have no chance to win the division. The question about the Marlins this season will be, “What is the lowest possible attendance they’ll see?” So, let’s just throw the Marlins out the window now, and focus on the other four teams in the division.
The Braves are the NL East’s defending champs, having dethroned the Nationals, who had won three of the last four division titles dating back to 2014. But what the Braves failed to do this offseason was keep pace with the rest of the division. The Mets acquired Robinson Cano to sure up the middle of their lineup. The Nationals added Patrick Corbin to complete the trio of a top tier rotation. You know what the Phillies have done. I don’t need to remind you about that. But the Braves did very little beside retain their internal talent. Bringing back Nick Markakis was a great call. He had a career year last year. But the Braves fell short in the offseason in the landscape of the rest of the division.
All of this does not mean that the Braves aren’t talented. It simply means they’ve put themselves behind the eight ball in March. Without wishing Summer away, the end of September could very easily show another Atlanta division crown. The rest of the division will likely have something to say about that, however.
The rest of the division, namely the Mets, Phillies and Nationals, again, in full transparency, are all going to finish within ten games of each other. What order that is comes down to which pitching staff/lineup combo comes together on the most consistent basis. If you were to order the two situations between the three teams with gold, silver and bronze medals, it would likely look like this:
Offense: Phillies, Nationals, Mets
Pitching: Nationals, Mets, Phillies
The combination of the two leads me to my divisional winner: the Washington Nationals. If you take an average score of the three teams, the Nats come in at 1.5. The Phillies average a two. The Mets finish with a 2.5. If that’s any indication of how the season will progress, the Nationals will win the NL East. The Nationals starting pitching, with the addition of Corbin to the staff propels Washington over New York for the best starting rotation in the division. It’s only been a few games, but it’s apparent that the Phillies’ offense is going to beat many teams into submission. The rotation, however, remains a mystery.
Each of these three teams will finish somewhere between 85-93 wins, leading to an exciting September of divisional matchups. But based on my entirely inexact and rudimentary formula, the Nationals are going to win the division. The Phillies offense will propel them to a Wild Card appearance. Relax Phillies fans: a playoff appearance, with the combination of Aaron Nola starting a one game playoff and the offensive firepower of the team, the Phillies would have a very real shot at playing in the NLDS.