1. Washington Nationals
On paper, the Nationals have the best team in baseball and do not have a flaw in their lineup. Their combination of power, speed, and ability to hit for average will make them one of the best offensive teams in the league. When Jason Werth returns from injury, the Nationals will sport 5 All-Stars on the field. On defense, they are young, fast, and athletic. However, the best aspect of their team is their starting pitching, which is the best in the league. The Nationals have 3 aces, Scherzer, Strasburg, and Zimmerman, and 2 more top of the rotation arms, Fister and Gonzalez.
The Marlins shocked many fans around baseball when they gave Giancarlo Stanton the largest contract in baseball history, traded for All Star Dee Gordon, Mat Latos, and Martin Prado, and signed Michael Morse. The Marlins will put forth an average to above average lineup that is based around speed and power. The middle of their order, Yelich and Ozuna, each have the potential to hit 20+ homers, while Stanton may hit 45+. Miami’s chances of making the playoffs will hinge on the return of Jose Fernandez, one of the premier young pitchers in the game.
New York Mets:
If the Mets’ offense ranks toward the middle of the league in runs scored this season, they will have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. The Mets’ offense should improve as David Wright, Travis D’Arnaud, and Curtis Granderson are destined for a better season than last year. In terms of pitching, the Mets’ staff ranks as one of the best in the league. It all starts with their ace Matt Harvey who is returning from Tommy John. Harvey, alongside ROY Jacob De Gram, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee, and possibly top prospect Noah Syndegaard should make the Mets a top 7 rotation. Along with their offense, the bullpen has numerous holes and deficiencies.
A few seasons ago, the Braves were a contender to win the NL East and possibly the National League. However, they have lost many of their stars and now face the possibility of finishing in the NL East cellar. On offense, they do not have a lot of talent outside of Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakais. Unfortunately for manager, Freddy Gonzalez, Andrelton Simmons cannot hit, Melvin (BJ) Upton strikes out too much, and Jonny Gomes, Alberto Callaspo, and Christian Bethancourt are not starting major league hitters. The pitching staff looks bleak as well after the Julio Tehran and Shelby Miller.
After years of dominating the NL East and the entire National League, the Phillies will now rival others for the number one overall pick in this year’s draft. On offense, the Phillies do not have any quality bats besides for Chase Utley, who they may move at the deadline for prospects. In terms of pitching, the biggest story will be the trade discussions regarding Cole Hamels. Besides Hamels, the Phillies have a dearth of starting pitching, especially if Cliff Lee is forced to retire.