The Philadelphia Phillies have taken permanent residence of the top spot in the division with five-straight East titles and are the overwhelming favorite to add sixth title to their resume in 2012. However, the Atlanta Braves, the new-look Miami Marlins, and even the Washington Nationals may have something to say about by the end of September.
The following is a brief preview of all five teams in the NL East along with their current future odds as provided by BetOnline.
Projected 2012 Win Total: 93
Odds to Win the National League: +170
Odds to Win the 2012 World Series: +400
There are three primary reasons why the Phillies are the prohibitive favorite in the NL East this season; Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels. Two other pretty good reasons are Joe Blanton and Vance Worley to help round-out the most formidable starting rotation in the Majors.
There are some genuine concerns with the health of Ryan Howard and Chase Ultey, who will both be out of the starting lineup on opening day, but Philadelphia still has enough offensive power to provide the needed run support to win at least 90 games which should be enough to win the division.
Projected 2012 Win Total: 87.5
Odds to Win the National League: +900
Odds to Win the 2012 World Series: +1800
The Braves need to quickly put last season’s historic collapse down the stretch behind them to have any chance to return to the postseason in 2012. If Jason Heyward can return to form and players such as Michael Bourn and Dan Uggla perform to their abilities, Atlanta should be able to add to last season’s 641- run total that was ranked 10th in the NL.
The starting rotation remains solid with Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, and Tommy Hanson leading the way, and has awhole,the Braves’ pitching staff should closely resemble the one that finished the 2011 regular season with a 3.48 team ERA.
Projected 2012 Win Total: 85.5
Odds to Win the National League: +850
Odds to Win the 2012 World Series: +1400
Miami will probably not win the division and will probably struggle to eclipse a lofty 85.5 projected win total, but this could be the start of something big other than the Miami Heat in South Beach. New skipper Ozzie Guillen and free-agent acquisition short stop Jose Reyes have been brought in to help christen a brand new ballpark that should go a long way towards putting fans back in the stands.
The addition of left-hander Mark Buehrle to the starting rotation should also help, but the Marlins are going to need Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco to have career seasons to keep this team competitive deep into summer. If Carlos Zambrano can return to form to anchor the back-end of the rotation, Miami will stay within striking distance of a wildcard spot.
Projected 2012 Win Total: 84
Odds to Win the National League: +1100
Odds to Win the 2012 World Series: +1800
The Nationals’ stock as an up and coming team continues to rise with the return of pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg to full-time duty this season after recovering from Tommy John surgery and the addition of Gio Gonzalez to give the team a solid No.2 starter.
If the development of another young stud, Bryce Harper remains on track, Washington could very well be the team of the future in the NL East, but for this season, it would settle for a record over .500 after winning 81 games last season.
New York Mets
Projected 2012 Win Total: 72.5
Odds to Win the National League: +4000
Odds to Win the 2012 World Series: +8500
The team that appears be headed in the wrong direction in the division this season is the Mets. They lost Reyes at the top of their batting order to the Marlins, but they are hoping that the return of Johan Santana adds a spark to the starting rotation.
Overall, there are just too many holes scattered throughout New York’s roster to successfully compete on a regular basis in a division where all four other teams are simply more talented. The Mets lost 72 games in 2011 and they will be hard-pressed to keep this total from slipping into the 60’s this season.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.