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2022 MLB

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

2022 MLB Division Preview: National League East

2022 MLB
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

2022 MLB Division Preview: National League East

The National League East is filled with fun storylines entering the 2022, whether it be the defending champions, the defending NL MVP, the best 1-2 pitching combo in baseball, a 23-year-old MVP-candidate mega-superstar, and a young team on the rise. This division will be plenty of fun during the 2022 MLB season, for these reasons, and many more that I will detail below. Despite there being a hierarchy of how these teams will likely finish, there is plenty for fans of each team to be excited about. Below I detail each team’s offseason in the order I predict they will finish within the division.

1st Place: Atlanta Braves (last year: 1st place)

Fresh off a championship, the Braves made some changes this offseason, but the team should ultimately be just as competitive as in 2021. Their young core combined with a bunch of veterans in the heart of their prime should be the perfect formula to once again win the NL East, although the Mets and Phillies will provide plenty of competition to try to prevent that from happening.

The Team: Longtime Brave and franchise cornerstone Freddie Freeman left for the Dodgers, but the team was able to replace him in a great way with the trade for Matt Olson from the A’s. Losing Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson appears to be significant, but don’t forget that the team re-signed Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall to play the outfield with Marcell Ozuna and Ronald Acuna Jr. (when he comes back in about a month). Next to Olson in the infield remains Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and Austin Riley, an extremely talented, young infield. Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Ian Anderson will lead the rotation, with Mike Soroka returning from injury at some point, and the addition of Kenley Jansen will help out the bullpen. Overall, all of baseball should be scared of this Braves team, a prime candidate to be 2022 MLB champs.

FanGraphs predicts the Braves to finish 92-70, good enough for first in the division. I have the Braves finishing even better, with a 96-66 record.

2nd Place: New York Mets (last year: 3rd place)

The Mets had a very disappointing 2021 season, but with many quality offseason additions, I expect this team to do much better in 2022. Although the Mets may not fully eclipse the Braves this year, expect them to overtake the Phillies and fill one of the National League playoff spots.

The Team: Marcus Stroman and Javier Baez are the two significant players to leave the Mets this offseason, although the players the team was able to add will more than makeup for their departure. Stars such as Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and Jacob deGrom will again largely be responsible for the team’s success, but this year they’ll have even more help with Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha, Chris Bassitt, and Max Scherzer coming in. The deGrom-Scherzer combo at the top of the rotation heads into 2022 as the best in baseball, with both pitchers being annual Cy Young Award candidates. The roster fills out with solid talent such as Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Taijuan Walker, and Edwin Diaz, leading one of the most talented Mets teams in recent memory.

FanGraphs predicts the Mets to finish in second place in the division with a 90-72 record, and I agree with the placement, but I have the Mets just slightly worse at 88-74.

3rd Place: Philadelphia Phillies (last year: 2nd place)

The Phillies have made improvements this offseason, but will have a tough time reaching the top of the NL East during the 2022 MLB season division due to the talent of the Braves and Mets. Nevertheless, the Phillies should be expecting to be competing in October, now boasting one of baseball’s best lineups with a few star pitchers as well.

The Team: The staples of the lineup remain, with Andrew McCutchen being the only major loss, but this won’t be too significant. One of baseball’s best lineups still contains 2021 NL MVP Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, and Jean Segura, with the two major additions of Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos in the heart of the order. Schwarber and Castellanos, both mainly outfielders/designated hitters, will provide the much needed boost that the Phillies have been missing for the past few years. The rotation will remain the same, with the team leaning heavily on Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Kyle Gibson to deliver quality starts and help them to wins. The team made some major additions to the bullpen as well this offseason, with Corey Knebel, Jeurys Familia, and Brad Hand joining the team. I expect the Phillies to improve off of last year and compete for a playoff spot in the National League during the 2022 MLB season.

FanGraphs has the Phillies finishing at 88-74, good for third in the division. I agree with both the placement and the record, as long as the team receives consistent play from their stars.

4th Place: Miami Marlins (last year: 4th place)

As one of baseball’s youngest teams, the Marlins success in 2022 will depend almost entirely on the improvement of their young core of players. Of course, the team has some talented veterans, which is why I see them as a competitive team that isn’t quite ready to compete for the playoffs.

The Team: The Marlins added 4 bats between the ages of 30 and 32 this offseason to try to bolster the lineup through the rebuild. Jorge Soler, Avisail Garcia, Jacob Stallings, and Joey Wendle will each do their part in 2022 to keep the team afloat and help build the next generation of Marlins stars. Of course let’s not forget about Jazz Chisholm, the young infielder, who will look to improve on a very solid 2021 rookie season. What could ultimately make-or-break this team is their rotation, led by Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, and Trevor Rogers, all young pitchers with sky-high potential. There is certainly a lot to be excited about in Miami for 2022, but what this team needs most is time to develop their youngsters and figure out what their identity will be for the next decade.

FanGraphs sees them finishing in fourth place in the division with a 82-80 record, and while I agree with the placement, I see the team finishing 78-84.

5th Place: Washington Nationals (last year: 5th place)

After trading away Trea Turner and Max Scherzer for prospects at the deadline last year, it became clear that the team was heading into a rebuild, and that’s where they stand in 2022. Expect a tough year for Washington as they try to build back up to World Series glory.

The Team: Of course, no Nationals story at this point is complete without Juan Soto. The man is one of baseball’s best players at just 23 years old, with an absolutely ridiculous .471 on-base percentage over the last two seasons. Next to him, there is surely some talent in the Nats lineup, with the additions of Cesar Hernandez and Nelson Cruz this past offseason. Along with Josh Bell and catching phenom Keibert Ruiz, the team shouldn’t struggle too much to score runs, but the pitching rotation remains a massive question mark. While Stephen Strasburg is a solid pitcher when healthy, Patrick Corbin and Joe Ross are both very unreliable at this point in time. The Nats are likely to struggle this season, trading away their veterans such as Cruz and Strasburg at the deadline to bolster the farm system for the future.

While FanGraphs predicts the Nationals to finish in last place in the NL East with a 73-89 record, I have them finishing at 69-93.

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