The Washington Nationals have won the National League East three out of the last five years, but are the Nats the favorites to win the NL East in 2019?
The Washington Nationals come into 2019 with hopes of winning another division title. The Atlanta Braves had a surprising rise to the top in 2018, and the Philadelphia Phillies had surprisingly good year as well.
Fangraphs projects the Nationals, Braves, Phillies and New York Mets to finish 2019 with winning records. Each of these teams made big moves this offseason and you could make a case for any one of the four teams to be the favorite in what’s likely to be a highly competitive division.
First, there are the defending champs, the Atlanta Braves. The Braves brought in Josh Donaldson this offseason. With his bat in the lineup, the Braves will have a deep lineup. They certainly could find themselves improving on their 90-win season last year.
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The Braves will pose a tough test for the Nationals. The Nationals have a better starting rotation, but the Braves can match the Nationals at the plate. There is no reason to count out the Braves as repeat NL East champs.
Next, there’s the Phillies. They had a good year last year, and they have only gotten better this offseason. This year they will have Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto and David Robertson to add to an 80-win team. This should give them a good shot at an NL East title.
The Phillies are going to be a tough matchup, as they have a solid all-around team. While they may lack having several big-name superstars, they do have incredible talent on their roster. If Bryce Harper signs with the Phillies, they probably would become the frontrunners for the NL East crown.
Meanwhile, the Miami Marlins pose no threat to anyone this year, so the only other team to talk about is the Mets. The Mets acquired some great pieces this offseason and appear set with a great rotation, a proven back-end of the bullpen and a solid lineup.
The Mets new acquisitions make them one of the most exciting teams in the National League. They have the reigning NL Cy Young winner. They traded for one of the best closers in baseball. They brought Robinson Cano back to New York. The Mets could easily be a team that will make a deep postseason run.
So who are the favorites for the NL East? It looks like it is going to be a tight race between four teams. Each team has made improvements during the offseason making 2019 even more interesting.
The NL East will be one of the most exciting divisions in baseball. The favorites to win the division right now should be the Nationals, as they have everything they need to get into the playoffs and finally win a playoff series.
While the other contenders for the division are primed to give the Nationals a tough test, the Nats have improved greatly this offseason, even if Harper decides to sign elsewhere. Should Harper sign in Philly, they would be the favorites, but with Harper still unsigned the Nationals roster is still one of the best in the MLB.
The Nationals still have great star power even without Harper. Juan Soto looks primed to become a superstar, Sean Doolittle is one of the best closers in the league, and Max Scherzer is still the best pitcher in baseball. So while the competition might be stiffer for the Nationals, they still are the favorites in the NL East.
Buckle up, this is going to be a fun division this season.