2021 NL East Preview
It has been a wild offseason for the five clubs of the NL East. From major signings, trades and changes going all the way to the top, almost every team has made some kind of significant move.
As the 162-game regular season draws closer, it’s looking like the NL East could be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball.
The Braves won the division last year, had the NL MVP on their team and were one game away from knocking off the eventual World Series Champion Dodgers. One would think the Braves would easily be the favorites after winning three straight NL East titles.
FanGraphs has them finishing with 89 wins, good for second place in the division and Baseball Prospectus has the Braves finishing at 82-80 and fourth in the division. However, the Braves are still the betting favorites at +130 according to Bet MGM.
The Braves have reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman, one of the league's best young stars in Ronald Acuña Jr, slugger Marcell Ozuna and could see the return of ace Mike Soroka from injury. This team is well groomed and primed for another NL East title and run at a World Series.
Record prediction: 94-68 (1st in NL East)
New York Mets
It’s no secret the Mets could have big things coming their way in 2021. The Franchise has undertaken a change in ownership with Steve Cohen getting Mets fans the most excited for a season in years.
The Mets’ rotation has not been a worry the past couple of seasons and should not be this year if it can stay healthy. The real excitement and change has come in the Mets’ lineup, which could possibly be the best in the division. With the addition of players like James McCann and especially Francisco Lindor, the lineup is sure to show some serious pop in 2021.
Overall, Mets fans should be excited about the changes their franchise is making along with the potential of the team this year. Unfortunately, unless everything falls perfectly their way, fans should cool their expectations of a division title.
Record prediction: 91-71 (2nd in NL East)
After having one of the better lineups in baseball and an above average rotation, one would think the Phillies would have been able to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011 in 2020.
Although hopes were high, the Phillies had yet another disappointing season headlined by one of the worst statistical bullpens in MLB history.
This past offseason, the Phillies made some positive moves bringing in new bullpen pieces like reliever Archie Bradley and resigning J.T. Realmuto along with Didi Gregorius. The lineup should be as strong as it has ever been in the Bryce Harper era, especially if Alec Bohm can build off of a tremendous rookie year.
Will bullpen troubles doom the Phillies to another year with no baseball in October? Only time will tell.
Record prediction: 86-76 (3rd in NL East)
The Nationals are hard to figure out. They are a mixed bag of young pieces looking to prove themselves and aging veterans trying to show they can still compete for a winning team.
Stability is now a concern in Washington as star pitcher Stephen Strasburg was only able to make two starts after receiving a major contract after the World Series run. The Nationals do have one bright, gleaming constant in star outfielder Juan Soto, who at just 22 years of age has torn up the league.
The Nationals have enough talent to outright win this division, but the amount of uncertainty surrounding many of their pieces leaves too many questions.
Record prediction: 78-84 (4th in NL East)
In a difficult to predict shortened season, the Marlins surpassed all expectations and made the playoffs. Their young rotation is one of the most exciting in all of baseball.
Although the club is looking to build off a promising 2020, it’s hard to see Miami be able to replicate their quick success in the gauntlet that is a 162-game season. A lineup that relies on guys like Starling Marte certainly is not anything to write home about, especially in this division.
The Marlins should look to continue to develop their young core as the 2021 division title is nearly unreachable for them.
Record Prediction: 70-92 (5th in NL East)
Maclain Young is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.