We continue our MLB 2017 divisional rankings with a look at the National League East.
We finished our American League divisional rankings as a part of the MLB 2017 preview and today we are beginning with the National League, starting with what should be a very competitive division in the National League East.
The Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies are continuing their rebuilding processes. For the Braves, they are moving into a brand new ballpark and made some veteran additions to their rotation to give their stockpile of arms a little more time to develop. They played much better in the second half of last season and will have Matt Kemp and Dansby Swanson for the duration.
The Marlins have made some deals to upgrade their pitching, and may have new ownership in the near future.
That leads us to the two playoff teams in the Washington Nationals and New York Mets. The Mets are banking on better health for a team that was in the World Series two years ago. In looking at their team, only Curtis Granderson didn’t miss any time last year. It has to change, right?
The Nationals gave up the farm (literally) for Adam Eaton, which moved top prospect Trea Turner back to shortstop. Do they have enough?
So who’s the top dog in the division? Let’s take a look.
4. Braves – Ender Inciarte is excellent in center field. Matt Kemp looked like a new player after coming to the Braves. Nick Markakis was more productive in his second season with the Braves.
3. Marlins – Giancarlo Stanton really struggled last season with injury. Can he get back to being the monster he was? Marcell Ozuna looked better last season and Christian Yelich is excellent, but I’m not sure about the switch of Ozuna to left and Yelich to center.
2. Nationals – What Bryce Harper will we get in 2017? The MVP from 2015 or the player who struggled in 2016? Which Adam Eaton will play center? The 2015 version or the right fielder from the White Sox in 2016 who was excellent? Jayson Werth was much more productive in 2016.
So here are the final ranks. Remember, the lower the number, the better.
5. Phillies (17)
4. Braves (16)
3. Marlins (12)
2. Nationals (10)
1. Mets (5)
I think in another year the gap will close between the Phillies, Braves and the rest of the division as their prospects continue to develop. The Nationals have to figure out the bullpen. It’s really going to hold them back. Maybe David Robertson or someone of that ilk can be the answer, but they always seem to have something holding them back.
The Marlins ownership situation will be interesting. If they are indeed sold, will the new owner spend money? Miami is an attractive destination with no state income tax.
If the Mets’ rotation can stay healthy, they should win the division, but their health is a giant question mark.