The National League East has the potential to be the most entertaining division in baseball this season. There is a legit possibility that there is a four-team race that is separated by just a few games at the end of September. Of course, this would be a big change for the division.
For the past 12 years, the division has not been close at the end of the year. The last time the second-place team in the NL East finished within five or less games behind first place at the end of the year came in 2012. That season, the Washington Nationals went 98-64 and the Atlanta Braves were 94-68. The closest division race came in 2007. The Philadelphia Phillies ended up winning the division, with the New York Mets finishing one game behind, and the Braves finishing five games back.
This season, the Mets, Braves, Nationals, and Phillies all have a realistic shot at winning the division. All four teams have made big additions this offseason and there is still the possibility of potential Hall of Famer Craig Kimbrel landing in the division also. It’s not out of the question that three of these four teams make the postseason.
The Braves made the least amount of moves during the offseason, but are the defending NL East champs. Their biggest addition was adding 2014 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson and re-signing All-Star outfielder Nick Markakis. Obviously, they hope Donaldson will return to his MVP form, but the Braves will be banking on continued progress from their young players. Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. are on the cusp of turning into stars for the Braves and Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb are going to form a great combo at the top of their rotation.The National League East, with four teams fighting for the top spot from the outset of the season, with be the division to watch in 2019.Click To Tweet
The Nationals won’t have Bryce Harper back in 2019, but still have a very good team. You could argue they have the best combo of starting pitchers in baseball, with a group including Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and newly signed Patrick Corbin. Harper was once the great young player for the Nationals and now, that moniker belongs to Juan Soto. The NL Rookie of the Year runner-up burst onto the scene last season and is now turning into the face of the franchise.
The Mets probably had the most change over the winter. They brought Robinson Cano back to New York along with one of the best closers in baseball, Edwin Diaz, in a trade with the Seattle Mariners. They also signed infielder Jed Lowrie, catcher Wilson Ramos, and brought back reliever Jeurys Familia. However, the Mets will continue to lean on their starting rotation. Although the wins didn’t show, the starting rotation had a very good year for the Mets. It doesn’t hurt to have a Cy Young Award winner in Jacob deGrom.
Lastly, the Phillies. Their big signings were Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, and of course, Bryce Harper. They also made two huge trades by bringing in Jean Segura and arguably the best catcher in the sport, J.T. Realmuto, from the Marlins. It’s quite possible Bryce Harper puts the Phillies on top of the East as favorites, but there are 162 games to be played in 2019 to decide it all.
Of course, it is still only February and there is always the possibility one of these teams run away with the division. But for now, let’s hope for a great race for the NL East crown.