2020 MLB Division Previews: NL East
Welcome to Week 1 of the Vendetta Media MLB Rankings! For the next 7 weeks I will cover each MLB division with a bonus week that will be my first overall power rankings for all 32 clubs during the 2020 season.
Here we will start with the NL East, the division closest to me as a lifelong Philadelphia fan. Before we dive into the moves that each team has made to improve their team, let’s take a look back at how each team fared in the 2019 season.
Atlanta Braves 97 65 Division Winners
Washington Nationals 93 69 Wild Card, World Series Champions
New York Mets 86 76
Philadelphia Phillies 81 81
Miami Marlins 57 105
The 2019 Season was an interesting one as far as the NL East was concerned. The general consensus was that the Phillies and the Braves would be the top teams and that Miami and New York would battle for the basement; both of these were correct. What no one saw coming was the Phillies choking away a second season in a row and the Mets seemingly over performing with the Cy Young winner again with a relatively healthy team the whole season.
Each team had bright spots and areas of struggle; the Nationals could have been better, and yes, even Miami could have been worse. Diving into each team a bit deeper it can become clear why each team made the moves they did, and if will be enough for this season
Atlanta: The Braves had a fantastic 2019 season highlighted by the improvement of Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies, the resurgence of Josh Donaldson, and the perennial consistency of Freddie Freeman. They also had the appearance of young stud arms in the likes of Mike Soroka, Sean Newcomb at times and Max Fried.
This off-season they were able to add a solid Cole Hammels for the top half of the rotation, and the additions of Travis d’Arnaud & Marcell Ozuna create fear across the entire lineup. They also now have a shutdown bullpen with Will Smith and Shane Greene coming over. My concern for the braves will still be their rotation. They are young at the top, Cole could go either way at age 36, Mike Foltynewicz has been underwhelming, and they don’t have a #5.
Washington: The Nationals won the World Series. It’s quite simple why they did too. Mad Max and Strasburg, who was World Series MVP, at the top of the rotation was arguably the best in the NL. Anthony Rendon had a season for the record books. Juan Soto is an emerging star in the league and Trea Turner and Adam Eaton were able to stay healthy. It was a recipe for success.
Going into the 2020 season the Nationals had to part ways with Rendon as he was just simply too expensive, though this allowed them to re-sign Strasburg long term. They also added Will Harris, Eric Thames and Asdrubal Cabrera. They are going to have a great rotation again and a better bullpen, but their infield concerns me. Cabrera is not an everyday player and with the health concerns of Turner, it will be an area to pay attention to.
New York: Having a back to back Cy Young winner is one of the biggest reasons for the Mets success the past 2 seasons. With Thor and Zack Wheeler they have had a solid rotation, Pete Alonso erupted into the history books and solid seasons from Jeff McNeil & Wilson Ramos got the Mets 3rd in the division.
The biggest move may likely be the loss of Zack Wheeler. When healthy he can be one of the best in the league so this will be a big loss. The signings, though, of Dellin Betances, Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello could pay dividends.
Philadelphia: The Phillies in 2019 thought their on staff pitching was going to be enough: it was not. Their rotation was simply horrific unless your name was Aaron Nola, and even he had struggles. Rhys Hoskins lost all production by the second half, their bullpen was bombed by injuries and they lost their left and center fielder before July.
This off-season the Phillies signed Zack Wheeler to address their staff issues. They brought Didi Gregorious and Josh Harrison over, and got healthy. That last part will be huge for the Phillies in 2020. Along with these, they hired Joe Girardi. The Phillies rotation and bullpen could still be areas of concern, but would be hard pressed to be any worse than last season.
Maimi: The Marlins were not a good baseball team. There are good players on the team, but together they are not good. Caleb Smith had a nice season, Miguel Rojas and Jorge Alfaro looked solid and Don Mattingly is still a good coach.
They signed Jonathon Villar, Corey Dickerson and Brandon Kintzler. While this is not enough to win a division, it fills gaps and gives current young players time to mature and hopefully get ready for the future. Don’t expect too much more out of this marlins team in 2020.
Taking all of these moves into consideration, here is my 2020 NL East Predictions:
Philadelphia Phillies 95 67
Washington Nationals 92 70
Atlanta Braves 90 72
New York Mets 79 83
Miami Marlins 63 99
The Phillies have done enough, simply put. They added pitching and their offense and bullpen will be healthy. The Nationals will see a similar season, though a slight falloff in overall offensive productions. The Braves, in my opinion, will see some regression. Their pitching will struggle more this season and I’m not convinced their offense will be enough to make up for it. This goes for the Mets too. Pitching will struggle at times and their offense will certainly not be enough. The Marlins are getting ready for the future.