nl-east-logosThe NL East is home to quite a few extremes. There’s the young and ascendant Nationals with a wealth of talent along with the aging Phillies in the last gasps of their current run. Both Washington and Atlanta spent to improve their teams while Miami basically shot itself in the foot and the Mets Makeover continues. Unless some of the Phillies’ old guys start playing like they’re younger, it’s going to be a two team race between the Nats and the Braves.

Other previews: NL West, NL Central

5) Miami Marlins
Let’s be perfectly honest here, the Marlins are going to be horrible. RF Giancarlo Stanton is the only good player on the team and he might not be around very much longer. This is because owner Jeffrey Loria decided to screw over fans by selling off every good player after a spending binge last offseason. He also got city taxpayers to foot the bill for that shiny, new stadium. Basically the team exists to fill Loria’s pockets. LF Juan Pierre and 3B Placido Polanco will be depended on for consistent production, yet another indication of the lack of talent on the roster. It’s going to be ugly all season long, but on the bright side there will be only 42 fans at each home game, so there won’t be that many to witness it all.

4) New York Mets
The good news is that the Mets are very underway in a rebuilding project that should make them a consistent contender. They were able to extend franchise face David Wright and have a collection of promising prospects from a number of recent trades. The bad news is that there’s not much else. Ike Davis is a consistent power threat, but only if he’s facing righties. The outfield will be seemingly be thrown together, the rotation has no standout pitcher and the bullpen was horrendous last season. Not to mention the injury Wright suffered during the WBC. If he misses a significant amount of time, then the team will struggle even more then before.

3) Philadelphia Phillies
The window is closing fast for the Phils to compete. Former offensive stalwarts 1B Ryan Howard and 2B Chase Utley are getting older and injured more often, but at least fellow vet SS Jimmy Rollins is still producing. After the departures of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence the outfield is left barren and while Ben Revere will provide speed, Delmon Young doesn’t inspire much confidence. Filling the hole at third base with Michael Young adds another aging player to the mix. The strength of the team will be pitching as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee having bounceback years to go along with Cole Hamels would carry the team. Jonathan Papelbon is an elite closer who leads a solid bullpen.

2) Atlanta Braves
It’s the end of an era for Atlanta as future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones has retired. However, it’s the beginning of the Upton era, as the team acquired both Justin and BJ to play alongside Jason Heyward in the outfield. Playing with each other will be huge motivators for both to produce. 1B Freddie Freeman and SS Andrelton are young players who could take steps forward this season. The pitching is no less impressive as Kris Medlen and Mike Minor team with steady vet Time Hudson to lead the rotation. Craig Kimbrel is the best closer out there and a part of one of the best bullpens in the league. It might be tough to take down the Nats, but the Braves have enough talent to make it interesting.

1) Washington Nationals
Stephen Strasburg’s innings limit in 2012 was the Nationals’ biggest story. He’ll be unleashed with no restrictions this season and could win 20 games. Gio Gonzalez accomplished that last season and Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler and Dan Haren join him and Strasburg for an incredibly potent rotation. Rafael Soriano was signed to take care of the 9th, but Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen are former closers who could step in at any time. Trading for Denard Span filled both their CF and leadoff needs and will set the table for power guys 3B Ryan Zimmerman and 1B Adam LaRoche. Even SS Ian Desmond and 2B Danny Espinosa are capable of 20+ homers. The Nats are stacked across the board and are poised for a deep playoff run. Plus they have some guy named Bryce.