Phillies' Bryce Harper on NL East: I Think This Is the Best Division in Baseball

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIFebruary 25, 2021

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper, center, reacts to his RBI double with New York Mets' Amed Rosario, left, looking on during a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 6-2. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper understands winning the National League East will be tougher this year than it was in 2020.

The New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Washington Nationals and Phillies all have a shot to claim the division title—to say nothing of the three-time defending division champion Atlanta Braves. All of it makes for what's unquestionably one of the most stacked regions in MLB

Harper thinks it might be better than that. 

"I think this is the best division in baseball," Harper told reporters Thursday. "I don't think that's even a question. We have five teams ... that are really good. I think this is going to be a juggernaut of a division."

The NL East sent the Braves and Marlins to the postseason last year after a surprising Miami team finished with 31 wins in a 60-game season. The Phillies missed out on the playoffs by just one game and could be in for a similar fate this year. 

According to Baseball Prospectus' famed PECOTA projections, Philadelphia is heading for 83 wins and another third-place finish in the NL East in 2021. The same projections have the Mets dethroning the Braves with 94 wins, followed by the Nationals with 84 wins. 

The Braves and Marlins finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the simulation. 

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As much as that may not bode well for the Phillies, the PECOTA standings back up Harper's assessment. 

The Marlins are projected to finish with 70 wins—the highest total of any last-place team.

If the Phillies are going to prove PECOTA wrong, it'll have to start with Harper. The outfielder slashed .268/.420/.542 with 13 home runs and 33 RBI in 58 games last year as Philadelphia limped to a 13-17 record in September. 

Now that the NL East has gotten tougher with the Mets adding Francisco Lindor and the Marlins' youth movement, Harper has found more motivation to hang another banner at Citizens Bank Park.

"I just want to be able to win," Harper said. "We're going to try everything in our power to do that as an organization. Success as a team instead of success as individuals is what you want."