The Washington Nationals are once again in first place by a couple games after they allowed the New York Mets and Miami Marlins to tie them on June 3. The Nationals regrouped and prepared for the Mets to come into Nationals Park for their huge NL East showdown.
Although it was not pretty, the Nats got the job done on Tuesday night in the first game of the series and reclaimed first place. On Wednesday night they once again defeated the Mets and currently hold a two game lead over the Marlins and Atlanta Braves and a 2.5 game lead over the Mets.
A part of the Nats success can be narrowed down to their dominance within the division.
The Nats are 14-7 against the NL East this season. This is a perfect formula to win a division and earn a playoff birth. Last season the Nats finished one game under .500 and were 36-36 in division play.
Their team has been improved significantly by the addition of Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez, and there is no reason that this record cannot be even further improved. It is amazing to think that Washington has played as well as they have in the division considering that they have been burdened by injuries all season.
The Nationals will have to continue to play this way if they want to make it to the playoffs in 2012. The Philadelphia Phillies might not be performing well early on, but they still expect to get Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back during the season. They might not be enough for the Phillies to make the playoffs but they will definitely try to play spoiler to the Nats party.
The Mets are the only other team to have a record over .500 versus divisional opponents with a 15-11 record.
The rest of the teams are all going to be beating up on each other all year and the winner of this division will be the team that comes out on top of the divisional batter. Thus far the Nats are on top in both categories and will look to stay this way going forward.