MLB Preview 2016: NL East

I’m writing divisional previews this year (I think) because I had way too much to write about the AL West.

NL East
Mets*
Nationals
Marlins
Phillies
Braves

* = projected playoff team

Really this is a two-team race, although if the Marlins had Carter Capps (Tommy John surgery, out for the season) and 32 starts from a healthy Jose Fernandez and a full season’s worth of Giancarlo Stanton (who has only played 150 games once, in 2011), and if their opening day starter weren’t Wei-Yin Chen, and especially if either Matt Williams were still managing the Nationals or the Marlins weren’t owned by Jeffrey Loria, I would pick them second.  The only regular with an OPS+ under 90 last season was Ichiro (56), and he’s not a regular (nor was he supposed to be a regular last year).  Jarred Cosart, who has a career ERA of 3.54 (ERA+ of 111) and turns 26 in May, is the fifth starter.  The Marlins are good.  I can imagine everything working.

The Mets are better this year, though.  I’m down on Cespedes, who I think is more Geronimo Berroa or Kal Daniels than either 2016 Josh Donaldson or 2016 Yoenis Cespedes, but even in my worst-case scenario, he’s still worth positive value to the Mets (offensively anyway), and of no value to the Nationals, who don’t have him.  The Mets win this division because of Harvey-deGrom-Syndergaard-Matz-Colon now/Wheeler eventually and enough everywhere else not to hurt them.

As far as the Nationals, it’s not 2008, and Dusty Baker may actually help them, at least compared to Matt Williams.  Bryce Harper is back, the rotation is back (mostly), and as Joe Sheehan wrote recently:

The Nationals return almost the entire roster, with Ben Revere in Denard Span’s role and Daniel Murphy replacing Ian Desmond. Joe Ross basically replaces Jordan Zimmermann. If you thought the 2015 team could win 100 games [looks away, whistles], you should feel much the same about this team. Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman are a year older, so you can have some pessimism about them. There’s just not enough difference between the 2015 Nationals and 2016 ones to be terribly negative about the latter. 

(…though he has them narrowly missing the playoffs with 89 wins.) He also has the Braves 99 runs and ten games worse than the Phillies—ten games (his projected 2016 Braves are 55-107)!  Maybe I will watch two of the ten games in person at Citizens Bank Park and double the number of Phillies wins I saw all of last season (1-9).

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