2013 National League East Preview
1.Washington Nationals– The talented Nationals finally took a major step forward and put it all together en route to a 98 win season and a division crown in 2012. Bryce Harper had a breakout rookie season (.270, 22HR, 18SB) and the sky is the limit for the now 20-year-old outfielder. If they take the reins off Stephen Strasburg this season, the Nationals might be in position to win an NL pennant in 2013.
2.Atlanta Braves– The Braves finished 2012 on a sour note, losing to the Cardinals in the winner-take-all Wildcard game, but their season can be considered nothing less than a success. They won 94 games behind the fifth best ERA (3.42) in the MLB, and Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward took a huge step forward in their young careers. This offseason, they got even better, acquiring both Justin and BJ Upton to complete one of the most talented young outfields in recent memory. Behind a balanced offense and super-closer Craig Kimbrel making hitters look more foolish than guys who wear socks with sandals, the Braves should be staring the playoffs straight in the face come October in 2013.
3.Philadelphia Phillies– The epitome of mediocrity in the 2012 season, the Phillies finished 81-81 on the season good for a third-place finish in the NL East. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard didn’t join the team until mid-season, and scoring runs consistently became too difficult, even more so when they shipped outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence to the NL West. In 2013, Howard and Utley will be healthy and the pitching trio of Hamels, Lee, and Halladay should keep the Phillies in more games. They just don’t have the talent to have anymore than a similar finish from 2012.
4.New York Mets– The Mets didn’t do a whole lot right in 2012. They were in the bottom third in the league offensively, defensively, and on the mound. However, they do have some young talent in their minor league system on the mound in Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, and traded Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey for another top prospect in catcher Travis D’Arnaud. The Mets will bounce-back to relevancy soon, but not in 2013.
5.Miami Marlins– It must be rough to be a Marlins fan. The team spent their money freely before the 2012 season, picking up Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell, and Jose Reyes to get every one excited and to sell tickets for their shiny new stadium in south beach. Then they fell flat on their face. This off-season, the Marlins traded just about everyone of worth they had to the Blue Jays, including Josh Johnson, Reyes, Buehrle, and fan favorite Emilio Bonafacio. They still have the premier young power hitter in the game in Giancarlo Stanton, but when you have Placido Polanco rumored to be your cleanup hitter in the upcoming season, it’s enough to make you cringe.