The NL East’s favorite for the majority of the season was the Washington Nationals. In the end, it ended up being the New York Mets winning the division title and going all the way to the World Series. Will we see another upset this season, or will the new favorite team, the Mets, take the division and possibly the league by storm?
1. New York Mets (lost World Series): Considering all that the Mets have suffered through in the seasons since the Subway Series, it was great to see them back in the Fall Classic last year. Now, they just need to win it all to ease the hearts of their fans who have been struggling for so long. And that’s not a far-fetched possibility when you look at this team. Their rotation is one of the deepest in baseball and can terrorize the opponent any day of the week. Yoenis Cespedes will continue being a beast at the plate (he needs to justify how he buys all the nice cars somehow) while Neil Walker will hopefully become a solid acquisition to the lineup. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but 2016 is potentially the year of the Mets.
2. Washington Nationals: On paper, the Nationals lineup last season was other-worldly, which makes it all the more surprising they missed the postseason. This time around, a lot of the pieces of the puzzle are gone. Say goodbye to Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Denard Span, and others. They picked up some players in Daniel Murphy and Ben Revere, but at the end of the day, it looks like it’ll come down to how well NL MVP Bryce Harper and the 1-2 punch of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg play. Oh, and if Jonathan Papelbon kills one of his teammates or not. Expect the Nationals to be in the Wild Card discussion for the majority of the season.
3. Miami Marlins: A healthy Marlins team can be scary. Giancarlo Stanton needs to get a full season under his belt to prove he is worth the $325 million he signed for last season. Dee Gordon was an absolute monster at the plate, in the field, and along the bases last year. Jose Fernandez will anchor down their rotation and if he’s healthy, then he’ll be in the NL Cy Young conversation. A lot of attention is going to be placed on the Mets and the Nationals this season. Don’t overlook the Marlins.
4. Atlanta Braves: Honestly, why do I even write about the Braves or the next team on the list? These teams are just flat-out bad. The only potential bright spot we have here is Dansby Swanson, the number 1 pick from 2015 who many are labeling as a future All-Star. We’ll start paying more attention to him and this team when they move to that new stadium.
5. Philadelphia Phillies: The Braves and the Phillies should be 5a and 5b when it comes to the rankings because it’s so hard to separate bad from worse when it’s this bad. The only reason I have put the Phillies lower is because they lost yet another part of their 2008 World Series team when Cole Hamels went to the Texas Rangers. Now, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz are the only players left from that great team. And they literally have no one else. This is going to be a very long year.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Weingarten