In 2010, the Philadelphia Phillies held off the Atlanta Braves to capture the NL East crown for the fourth straight year. With the addition of Cliff Lee, everyone has already proclaimed them 2011 NL East champs.
But in the words of Lee Corso: "Not so fast my friend."
The 2011 Atlanta Braves are much improved as well, and should not be disregarded so fast. The 2010 Wild Card showed the young Braves how to win, and 2011 should be another step forward to winning the division.
Though the Phillies are the favorite, here are 10 reasons why they should watch out for the Braves in 2011.
Though the Phillies pitching staff is the one getting all the media attention, the Braves rotation should not be overlooked.
With pitchers Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, and Jair Jurrjens, the Braves' top four can contend with the Phillies' Big Four.
And if Mike Minor or Julio Teheran can solidify themselves as the fifth starter, the Braves' five starters as a whole could be better than the Phillies' five.
Not only does Uggla gives the Braves the pop in their lineup that they lacked in 2010, but it also frees up Martin Prado to take over in left field, a position that was a black hole in their lineup last year.
Uggla has hit 30+ home runs the past four seasons, a number that has been difficult for Braves hitters to attain recently. This kind of production will challenge the Phillies' pitching while also giving protection to the Braves' young star, Jason Heyward.
Don't get me wrong, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels are great pitchers. But both could very easily struggle in 2011.
Roy Oswalt is 33 and has a thrown a lot of innings in his career. This wear and tear will lead the small-framed Oswalt to break down sooner rather than later, as early as 2011.
Hamels, on the other hand, is in the prime of his career. But with a down year like 2009 on his track record, Hamels could possibly have another 4.00+ ERA year in 2011.
As for the fifth starter, no one has given much attention to this weakness. Even with the Big Four, every fifth day could be a loss for Philly if they don't address this need properly.
The Braves bullpen will be one of its strengths in 2011.
Guys like Peter Moylan, Scott Linebrink, and Scott Proctor will eat innings if the starter has a bad game.
And with Jonny Venters, George Sherrill, and Craig Kimbrel all able to close, the Braves have a lot of depth in the pen that can make games shorter.
Brad Lidge is either really good, or really bad.
Every Braves fan is hoping that Albert Pujols hits another moon shot off him and shatters his fragile confidence.
After fleecing the Yankees and getting Arodys Vizcaino, Wren is back at it again this offseason. His ingenuity gave the Braves Dan Uggla while only giving up Omar Infante and Mike Dunn.
Wren is not one to stay complacent, and will surely make another splash either before the season starts or before the trade deadline.
Aside from Howard, Utley, and Rollins, who do the Phillies have?
Shane Victorino is solid but nothing special. Domonic Brown is a rookie, and though he has upside, he will have some rookie blues, i.e. Jason Heyward.
The rest of the Phillies lineup is nothing to worry about, which puts a lot of pressure on the middle of the lineup and makes Jayson Werth's departure that much more costly.
In his rookie season, Heyward hit 18 home runs. Not bad for a 20-year-old kid.
With a full major league season under his belt and Dan Uggla hitting behind him, Heyward should make great strides in his second season, proving to be a tough out even for the vaunted Phillies rotation.
Like Oswalt, Rollins isn't getting any younger and is more injury prone in this stage of his career. Much of his 2010 season was spent on the DL.
Utley is still young, but has had numerous injuries in his career. Utley could wind up on the DL once again, especially with his tendency to being hit by pitches.
The Philadelphia Phillies are the Miami Heat of the National League. Every day, the team they are playing will give a little bit extra to beat the Phillies.
Though the Heat are on fire, they struggled mightily at the start of their season. Baseball is different than basketball though.
If every team gives a little extra just to beat Philly, it could wear them down enough to affect them in the second half of the season, in which case the Braves will capture the 2011 NL East.