2022 National League East Power Rankings
The National League East is one of MLB’s toughest divisions going into 2022. Every team, except for one, has playoff aspirations going into the new season. Each team made significant moves during the offseason, both before and after the lockout. However, each team also has weaknesses that could cause a playoff spot to slip through their fingers. With genuinely competitive rosters top to bottom, the NL East should have one of baseball’s best pennant races.
Last Place- Washington Nationals
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. After winning a World Series just two seasons prior, the Washington Nationals went into full rebuild mode at the 2021 trade deadline. Kyle Schwarber? Traded to the Red Sox. Trea Turner and Max Scherzer? Shipped off to the Dodgers. So where does that leave the Nationals entering 2022? The offense could honestly be worse. Juan Soto is on a Hall of Fame trajectory at age 23, Josh Bell has solidified himself as a true slugger, and the addition of the ageless wonder Nelson Cruz should provide the lineup with some punch. However, the real troubles for the Nationals come from the pitching. Patrick Corbin is making approximately $27 million per year. In return, he delivered a 5.82 ERA last season. Stephen Strasburg is an electric pitcher, when he is actually able to play. Josiah Grey still needs plenty of polishing before he can be depended on. The bullpen is at best, a dumpster fire. The Nationals have a strong farm system, and Juan Soto is the best hitter in the sport. But they aren’t competing for anything this year.
Fourth Place- Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins are one of MLB’s biggest dark horses to make the playoffs this year. Why? The starting rotation is lethal. Not only were they able to extend ace Sandy Alcantara in the
offseason, the staff has serious depth. Trevor Rogers nearly won NL Rookie of The Year in 2021 after posting a 2.64 ERA, and Pablo Lopez is a great number three starter that any team would be thankful to have. And to top it all off, they have a seemingly endless supply of young arms with serious potential. So why are they fourth in the power rankings? The offense and bullpen still need serious improvements. Miami signed outfielders Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler this offseason, but the lineup still lacks star power. Jazz Chisholm Jr. still needs to work on his plate approach, and Brian Anderson is looking more like a bust with each passing season. The bullpen has some decent arms like Dylan Floro and Richard Bleier, but lacks a true shutdown closer that is needed for a team to be elite. A push at the trade deadline could propel Miami to a Wild Card spot. However, there are too many good teams in the NL East for them to be ranked higher than fourth.
Third Place- Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies somehow managed to improve none of their weaknesses in the offseason, while also spending enough money to go over the salary cap. Sure, the additions of Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos bring even more firepower to an offense that already boasts the 2021 NL MVP, Bryce Harper. However, the offense wasn’t the issue for the Phillies last year. It was the pitching and the defense. Their starting rotation was in the bottom half of the league in ERA, and they made no significant changes in the offseason. Expect average results from the staff once again. And after having a bullpen that finished with the 6th worst ERA in MLB, fans figured that the front office would make a push to sign a stud like Kenley Jansen, Ryan Tepera, or Aaron Loup. The fans figured wrong. The biggest signings Philadelphia made to bolster their relief corps was Jeurys Familia and Brad Hand. Both veterans had an ERA hovering around 4.00 last season. The additions of Schwarber and Castellanos present new defensive challenges to a team that ranked last in MLB in Defensive Runs Saved. Offensive firepower is great. But it doesn’t mean anything if Harper is hitting 440 foot bombs in games that are already lost.
Second Place- New York Mets
The New York Mets’ 2021 season was disappointing to say the least. Newly acquired superstar, Francisco Lindor, had the worst season of his career. Jacob deGrom had to deal with injuries for the second half of the season, after posting historically great stats to start the year. And the offense as a whole underperformed significantly. However, the 2022 Mets look primed for a serious postseason run. The addition of Max Scherzer to go along with deGrom provides New York the best 1-2 punch for any starting rotation in baseball. Plus the trade for Athletics starter Chris Bassitt, to go along with the return of starters Taijuan Walker and Carlos Carrasco give the Mets the best rotation in MLB. Offensively, fans should expect much better results than last year. Lindor is due for positive regression, and the additions of Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha should help the Mets drive in runners in scoring position, something they struggled deeply with last season. The weakest part of New York’s team going into 2022 is their bullpen, and it’s still projected to be the 10th best in the league by FanGraphs. The key for the Mets as always, is health. If their rotation can avoid any major injuries like last season, the Mets could easily win this division. But they haven’t quite done enough to earn top spot in the rankings.
First Place- Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves have won the NL East for four straight seasons. While they will face stiff competition this year, they have all the tools to ensure a fifth straight pennant. Their offense remains arguably the best in MLB. They lost Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers, but they replaced him with an arguably better first baseman when they traded for As slugger, Matt Olson. Ronald Acuna is only expected to miss a couple weeks to start the season after tearing his ACL last July, and Austin Riley has the potential to hit 35 home runs this year. The rotation is certainly nothing to scoff at, but the lack of a true ace is slight cause for concern. Their greatest asset, however, comes from their bullpen. When the Braves made their magical World Series run, the strength of their bullpen was a huge factor that pushed them to a title. And in the offseason, they improved that relief corps even more by adding two of the best relievers from 2021 in Colin McHugh and Kenley Jansen. The offense is lethal, the rotation is solid, and the bullpen has a plethora of arms
who can lock down a game. Their victory is by no means guaranteed, but Atlanta should remain the rulers of the NL East for another season.