Washington Nationals should win NL East with relative ease


The Washington Nationals have won the National League East in each of the last two seasons. Here’s why they should be able to win it fairly easily again in 2018.

The Washington Nationals are among the best teams in the league, and would likely make the playoffs regardless of what division they played in. With this in mind, they are all but guaranteed to make the playoffs once again in 2018.

The National League East is arguably the weakest division in the league, with the Nats being the only guaranteed contender. There is certainly potential for a bit of competition, but it would take a historic collapse for the Nats to not win the division.

The Mets, who represented the National League in the World Series in 2015, have been a disaster over the last few years. Their roster, especially their starting rotation, is stocked full of talent, but they have been derailed by injuries.

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Although the Mets have made a few additions this offseason, highlighted by Todd Frazier and Adrian Gonzalez, they are unlikely to be a serious contender. FanGraphs projects that they will finish 81-81, which would be an 11 win improvement from 2017, but they should not cause the Nats too much trouble.

The next team in FanGraphs’ projected standings is the Atlanta Braves. The Braves have some solid veterans, such as Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte, Tyler Flowers, and Julio Teheran to go with a young middle infield, featuring Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson, but their pitching is lackluster at best.

Teheran highlights the starting rotation, but he is a completely different pitcher at SunTrust Park, the Braves’ new home stadium. The rest of the rotation is full of question marks, which is also true of the bullpen. Although the Braves could contend in a few years, they are not a threat in 2018.

Aside from the Mets, the Phillies will be the Nats’ biggest competition. FanGraphs projected them to finish fourth in the division, but they could easily finish higher.

The Phillies are built on a young core, consisting of Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, and J.P. Crawford, but they are not quite ready to contend. They have done well this off-season, signing Carlos Santana, Pat Neshek, and Tommy Hunter, but that likely will not be enough.

Philadelphia’s solid offseason shows that they believe they are a little ahead of schedule on their rebuild, but they are at least a year away from contending. With almost no money on the books for next year, expect them to be a player in next offseason’s historic free agent class.

The final team in the division is the Miami Marlins, who are currently the laughingstock of the league. Their outfield ranked among the best in baseball in 2017, but they traded all three outfielders this offseason, along with infielder Dee Gordon (who will ironically play center field in Seattle).

J.T. Realmuto and Justin Bour highlight the remaining Marlins, but they are just about the only two notable players left in Miami. How long they will stay there remains to be seen. FanGraphs projects them to finish 68-94, which would be the worst record in the National League.

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Although the Mets and Phillies have improved this offseason, the Nats should still win the division with relative ease. They may not win it by 20 games again, and the Marlins certainly will not finish in second, but it is the Nats’ division to lose.