Washington Nationals: How the NL East was won
By Ron Juckett
DIVISION WAS TERRIBLE
Most experts expected the Nats and New York Mets to lock horns in a tight battle all year before the season began. The Mets were the last team to get within ten of Washington on July 3. After that, no one got within single digits.
Philadelphia and Atlanta did as expected. Both teams have bright spots in the future, but they knew as the season dawned anything this year was not realistic. Freddie Freeman’s broken wrist ended what limited chance the Braves had. The Phillies are a plucky team who are in full transition and hardly any payroll obligations.
Miami was the proverbial wild card. They started the season coming together after the horrific loss of Jose Fernandez last fall and hung in there most of the year. Not able to crack .500 until late-August, Giancarlo Stanton nearly put them in the Wild Card hunt with his ability to smash home runs. Their year fizzled with back-to-back sweeps by the Nats.
New York spent the year hampered by injuries to everybody. From starting pitching to David Wright, the burden to stay with Washington was not there. A crushing 23-5 on April 30 was the statement game of the year. There was no challenge from Queens.
By clinch day, the Nats compiled a 41-23 record in the division. Only the Mets are .500 in the NL East. Given the chance to feed off bad teams, Washington pounced. Against teams with losing records, they are 60-30.