I have no set reason as to why I placed Atlanta on top. My gut feels that the Phillies and Braves should give us a good fight to watch. The pitching of Atlanta is young and talented. Look for Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens to produce yet again. If Tim Hudson remains healthy, they have a competent pitching staff ready to take on the rest of the East. Look for Jason Heyward to make an early entrance in the outfield. This #1 prospect should deliver decent number and steal about 30 bases a season. The issue to address would be the often injured Chipper Jones at third base, not sure how his body will hold up, but perhaps Infante is the answer for the hot corner.
What can you say about the Phillies that has not already been said? This team is solid, all around. I picked Atlanta just to be different, but there is no reason why the Phillies should not repeat as NL East champs, and perhaps once again represent the NL in the World Series. The top 4 hitters in the batting order (Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard) are going to be tough yet again for any pitching staff to survive. Lets see what Roy can do in his first season in the NL.
The Marlins are scrappy and young. They will be enough of a disturbance in this division to contend for second place. The middle infields pack a heck of an offensive punch with Uggla and Ramierez, plus they are not bad on defense either. Look for Josh Johnson to put up Cy Young type numbers this year as his stock continues to climb.
The Mets have the talent, but I am not sure about the discipline or guidance. The addition of Jason Bay should be nice to see in the new ballpark. The pitching staff is anchored by the recently injured Johan Santana. This club could prove me wrong, but right now, I am placing them a shy bit above the Nationals.
The Nationals have some talented players. Ryan Zimmerman at third, Pudge behind the plate and Adam Dunn at first, this team has home run potential. The big question in my mind is how the pitching staff will keep this team in a game. Nyjer Morgan is a nice base running threat and can cover some ground in center. Josh Willingham also has the ability to hit the long ball. If pitching is able to come together, the Mets could very well be sitting in last place by season’s end.