Top to bottom, the National League East Division is the best in baseball. The Miami Marlins have the shortest division odds price of any projected last-place team and this is one of two divisions where four teams are priced in single digits. The other is the NL Central and that isn’t because every team is competent, it is because not a single one of the top four truly stands out.
The Atlanta Braves, hated by PECOTA projections three years in a row, are a very small favorite over the New York Mets, who made the big move to acquire Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. The Washington Nationals are still lurking with maybe the best player in baseball in Juan Soto and a rotation anchored by Max Scherzer. The Philadelphia Phillies achieved their primary goal of retaining JT Realmuto and their secondary goal of fixing the league’s worst bullpen.
The Marlins, well, they did make the playoffs during that crazy 2020 season and could very well have the NL Rookie of the Year in Sixto Sanchez.
This profiles as a really fun and competitive division. The floors for the Braves and Mets do seem to be the highest, as they have the two best offenses in the division and very good pitching staffs. Atlanta has taken down this title in three straight seasons. Will the run come to an end?
Odds To Win The NL East
|New York Mets||+150||+140|
All five teams are at plus money, but it clearly looks to be a two-horse race in the minds of oddsmakers between the Braves and Mets.
The Mets were going to get better whether they got Lindor and Carrasco or not. Their -5 win difference in BaseRuns record was tied for the biggest in baseball. The Mets had some huge offensive numbers, but underachieved offensively by .65 runs per game according to BaseRuns because of some bad luck with runners in scoring position.
Natural regression coupled with some improvements to the roster combine to make a really bullish case for the Mets. I can’t argue with that, but the Braves have been the gold standard of this division since the start of 2018 and they haven’t lost much. In fact, they even added Charlie Morton to the rotation and should get Mike Soroka back before the temperatures consistently hit 90 in the Peach State. Bringing back Marcell Ozuna’s bat was a big win.
I can sit here and compare and contrast the Mets and Braves for a while, but I don’t think that’s how you should approach the NL East futures markets. One team might be slightly better than the other and that team will probably win at a short price. In this instance, where you’ve got four teams capable of cannibalizing each other, I’m looking at a price play.
I’m looking at the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies had a top-10 offense last season and a top-five starting rotation. With a lead after six innings last season, teams won 82.9% of the time. The Phillies won 72.4% of the time. If they were just league average with a lead after six innings, they’d have won three more games.
No, that doesn’t put the Phillies on Atlanta’s level. It may not even put the Phillies on the Mets level. However, the Phillies made a huge investment in the bullpen to turn a glaring weakness into something that could be league average or better. A price like +875 isn’t that outlandish here. Injuries can always level the playing field.
The Phillies are the only long shot division futures price that makes sense to me around the league this season. The Nationals have Soto and Scherzer and some other great pieces, but I have major health worries about that team. I’m less worried about that with the Phillies.
Big division prices usually don’t get there. I think there’s value on the Phillies, though, based on how this division sets up, based on the moves that they made in the offseason, and based on the +875 return with an outcome that is not out of the question.