The Mets this year were widely expected to not just contend this season, but to finish in last place with possibly more than 100 losses. While the Mets' organization itself may have found those predictions to be laughable, the Mets' season so far has surprised everyone else.
No one expected R.A. Dickey to become the best pitcher in baseball. No one expected Johan Santana to stay healthy and throw a no-hitter. No one expected Ruben Tejada to fill Jose Reyes' shoes as well as he has. Most of all, no one expected the Mets to be five games over .500 and within five games of the division lead in late June.
The Mets have been overachieving all season long and this should not be stopping any time soon. The NL East division at one point was very close, but it has since been separating a bit and will continue to separate.
The Phillies are too marred by injuries and old age to continue their streak of division championships, which had lasted from 2007-2011. The Marlins have been inconsistent and have faded towards the bottom of the division in the past month. Their offense and bullpen have both been inconsistent, while manager Ozzie Guillen's front page headlines have become big distractions. The Atlanta Braves just lost their ace Brandon Beachy for the rest of the season, and like the Marlins, their own offense has been quite inconsistent as well. Look for them to fade into third place for the rest of the season, but not fade as badly as the Phillies and Marlins.
As for the Nationals, they are the team to beat in the division. They have gotten great starting pitching, solid pitching from their bullpen and timely hitting from an offense that has finally developed thoroughly. Furthermore, the Nationals have been hit hard with injuries all year long, so when players like Jayson Werth and Drew Storen are finally healthy again, the Nationals will be even better.
All in all, the second half of the season in the NL East is going to become a battle between the Mets and the Nationals. Regardless, the Mets still have a great shot at least at getting one of the wild card spots. With the Reds about to run away with the division title in the NL Central, the only other potential contenders there are the Cardinals and the surprising Pirates. The Cardinals will stay in the mix all season, while the Pirates must keep playing as well as they have to stay afloat.
Out west, the Dodgers and Giants have become the two elite teams in the NL West division. One of these teams will win the division and the other will likely take one of the wild card spots. If the Diamondbacks start playing better and get a few more injured players back onto the field, they could make a late season run, but for the most part, the Mets' main Wild Card competition will be against the Cardinals, Pirates, Giants and Dodgers.
It should be an exciting summer. Hopefully, the Mets keep playing well and get back to the postseason for the first time since 2006. It would certainly put a big exclamation point to this celebrated 50th anniversary season.