MLB Predictions 2012: Ranking the NL East
When the Atlanta Braves took their rightful place in the National League East in 1994, the division title was theirs every single season through 2005. The next season, the Mets took home the crown. And since 2007, the Phillies have been king of the hill.
Every single season since 1993 (except one), the NL East has been won by either Atlanta or Philadelphia. Will this year be any different? I say no. However, I believe there will be some fresh blood in the mix.
Let's take a very quick look at the division and how I predict they will finish in 2012.
5. New York Mets
The Mets didn't even break .500 in 2011, and it probably won't be much better this season. Jose Reyes is now in sunny Miami, and we all know what happens when your big names leave for other teams within the division.
I don't have much good to say about this organization at the moment, so unless they want to prove me wrong, I don't see much room for improvement with the Mets in their current form. Torture continues, Mets fans.
4. Washington Nationals
By Nationals/Expos standards, 2011 certainly brought about much to celebrate. This perennial bottom-feeder finished last season one game shy of a .500 record and showed that years of high draft picks—under improved supervision—may finally be starting to pay off on the field.
A third-place finish was a huge leap forward for Washington, so if they can build on their success and continue to learn how to win, the Nats could be a contender in the years to come.
But, this year finds them back near the bottom. This is not because the Nats will get worse, but because the Marlins will be better.
3. Miami Marlins
Last season, the Florida Marlins finished dead last in the NL East. This season, the newly named Miami Marlins will contend for the division title. I'm putting them at third, but second place and a wild-card birth isn't far-fetched.
As the fish say goodbye to playing in a football stadium and hello to manager Ozzie Guillen, it is hard not to see a bright future in Miami. Time will tell. This team should be good, but will they?
2. Atlanta Braves
Atlanta orchestrated one of the most epic late-season collapses in baseball history last season. The only thing that kept them from stealing the show completely for "suck factor" in 2011 was the fact that the Boston Red Sox decided they would do the same.
The Braves had a quiet offseason, and the fans aren't happy about it. But, I think the core—along with key pieces returning from injury—will at least hold onto second place and perhaps cruise to a wild-card spot come season's end.
1. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have begun a period of domination that has been very similar to the first few years of the Braves' 14-year run.
Most of the same tools are still in place for the Phils, and there's no indication that much will change this season. When somebody decides to man up and knock Philly off their high horse, then I'll bump them down the list. But for now, I just don't see it.