2011 National League: The Best of the East at Each Position

Ethan BatsonContributor IMarch 2, 2011

2011 National League: The Best of the East at Each Position

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    The National League East looks to be an exciting race to the finish. From the historical rotation setting up shop in Philadelphia, to a promising offense in Atlanta, the race for the NL East crown will be as interesting as ever. This is a list of the projected starters at each position and the best players at each position.  

First Base: Ryan Howard, Phillies

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    Ryan Howard is getting older every year, and it is starting to show. That does not keep him from reigning as one of the most feared hitters in the game, however. Always a threat to go deep, Howard has hit 30+ home runs in every season since 2005. Never a high average player, Howard is also susceptible to striking out; but the numbers are there, and Howard will be feared for years to come.

    2. Adam LaRoche, Nationals

    3. Freddie Freeman, Braves

    4. Ike Davis, Mets

    5. Gaby Sanchez , Marlins

Second Base: Dan Uggla, Braves

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    Dan Uggla was a quiet MVP candidate for the Marlins last season, and things should only get better for the 30-year-old veteran in a Braves uniform. Slamming 33 home runs in a relatively weak line-up in Florida was impressive. It will be interesting to see what he can do with better bats around him. A down year (albeit injury-plagued) for Chase Utley last season makes Dan Uggla the best second basemen in the NL East.

    2. Chase Utley, Phillies

    3. Omar Infante, Marlins

    4. Danny Espinosa , Nationals

    5. Luis Castillo, Mets

Third Base: David Wright, Mets

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    A prolific 29 HR/103 RBI year in 2010 for the All-Star was the highlight in a bad season for the Mets all-around. Wright has consistently impressed throughout his major-league career, and this season should be no different. He is solid defensively, and could really put up some remarkable numbers if Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay give him some production.

    2. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals

    3. Chipper Jones, Braves

    4. Placido Palanco, Phillies

    5. Wes Helms, Marlins

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins

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    Despite some on and off-the-field antics, Hanley Ramirez is the best offensive shortstop in the NL East, and perhaps Major League Baseball. Ramirez puts up consistent numbers and is a threat to do some damage in any given plate appearance. Ramirez has power numbers that no other shortstop in the NL East will cap this season.

    2. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies

    3. Jose Reyes, Mets

    4. Ian Desmond, Nationals

    5. Alex Gonzalez, Braves

Left Field: Martin Prado, Braves

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    The biggest question mark for Prado will be the position itself; Prado has never played in the outfield. No one will work harder to play the position than Prado, however. He may have a let down from his offensive spike last season, but look for him to be the best the NL East has to offer out of left field.

    2. Logan Morrison, Marlins

    3. Raul Ibanez, Phillies

    4. Jason Bay, Mets

    5. Roger Bernadina, Nationals

Center Field: Angel Pagan, Mets

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    The Mets have announced that Pagan will be the center-fielder of the future, shifting Carlos Beltran to right. Pagan had a breakout performance in 2010, and looks to impress again in 2011. The only question will be, what kind of year will the outfielders have around Pagan, and how will it affect his numbers?

    2. Chris Coghlan, Marlins

    3. Shane Victorino, Phillies

    4. Nyjer Morgan, Nationals

    5. Nate McLouth, Braves

Right Field: Jayson Werth, Nationals

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    The Nationals paid heavily for one of the best right-fielders in the business. His power numbers will be a drop off from what they had with Adam Dunn but, overall, Nationals fans will see a better all-around player in Werth. Giving Werth the title for best in the NL East is no small feat, as the East is stacked with talent at the position

    2. Jason Heyward, Braves

    3. Mike Stanton, Marlins

    4. Domonic Brown/Ben Francisco, Phillies

    5. Carlos Beltran, Mets

Catcher: Brian McCann, Braves

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    Perennial All-Star Brian McCann is the best catcher in the NL East. Coming into spring training significantly lighter than last year, and with his eye problems behind him, it could be a break-out year for the already consistent slugger. With a more powerful line-up around him, look for McCann to put up some big numbers this season.

    2. Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

    3. John Buck, Marlins

    4. Ivan Rodriguez, Nationals

    5. Josh Thole, Mets

Starting Rotation: Phillies

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    The Philadelphia Phillies are the clear favorites to have the best rotation in baseball this season. The surprise addition of Cliff Lee during the off-season, and the late 2010 addition of Roy Oswalt puts them in position to be the best rotation top-to-bottom. The question is whether or not it will work. The prevailing argument is that this rotation is the best in baseball on paper. No one has seen how it will work out. The Phillies cannot expect Halladay to be quite as good as last season, and Oswalt will not keep up the 1.74 ERA he did with the Phils at the end of last year. Something has to give, and something will. Nevertheless, the Phillies starters look sharp.

    2. Braves

    3. Marlins

    4. Mets

    5. Nationals

Closer: Craig Kimbrel/Jonny Venters, Braves

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    There are a number of factors placing this duo at the top of the list; Francisco Rodriguez’s legal troubles and how they will affect him, and inconsistencies in the pitching of Brad Lidge. The biggest reason, however, is the mid-90s sinker of Kimbrel, and the lights-out stuff of Venters. The job is Kimbrel's until he loses it, or a left-handed closer is needed—making the combination that much more fearsome.

    2. Brad Lidge, Phillies

    3. Francisco Rodriguez, Mets

    4. Drew Storen, Nationals

    5. Leo Nunez, Marlins