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April 4, 2010 2:51 AM

National League East Preview

With the start of the season just around the corner I figured it would be a good idea to share my thoughts on the projected standings for the 2010 season.  These are not scientific, at least not based on any of my own work, but I have studied the various projection systems out there.  I've already covered the AL, so let's move onto the NL, starting with the East.

One of the nice things about the NL East is that there is always one safe prediction; the Nationals will finish in the basement.  Other than that, it is anything goes.  The Phillies are as good as ever and added Roy Halladay, the Mets are hoping to stay healthy, the Braves are looking dangerous, and you just never know with the Marlins.

1. Philadelphia Phillies (90-72)

Some people are expecting the Braves to unseat the Phillies atop the East this season, but I am not among them.  Last I checked, the Phillies still have Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, and the best second baseman in baseball, Chase Utley.  They also added the best pitcher in the league, Roy Halladay.  The biggest thing the Phillies have to worry about this year is Shane Victorino complaining about his spot in the batting order. 

2. Atlanta Braves (88-74)

Little known fact: the Braves posted the 6th best run differential in baseball jason-heyward.jpglast year.  More known fact: They traded their best pitcher, Javier Vazquez, and received little in return in the way of immediate contributors.  However, they do have some internal reinforcements in the form of top prospect Jason Heyward, and a full season from ace-in-training Tommy Hanson.  They also shored up the bullpen with the acquisitions of Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner.  We all know the Braves can score runs, and they can definitely prevent them. There season will come down to the health of the aforementioned relievers and former ace Tim Hudson.

3. New York Mets (82-80)

You almost have to start feeling bad for the Mets.  Their inaugural season at Citi Field was decimated by injuries, and the 2010 season is beginning to unfold the same.  Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes are elite players, and if they are on the DL, the Mets are not going to win.  Also, the rotation after Santana... not so hot. 

4. Florida Marlins (76-86)

The Fish overachieved big time last year in the win department, but this is a solid team.  Offensively, the only real question mark is in center field with Cameron Maybin, although any value Jorge Cantu provides with the bat is more or less erased by his glove.  The rotation is also strong, led by Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco (the unluckiest pitcher in baseball in 2009), and Anibal Sanchez (remember him, he threw a nono).  The bullpen is a little flaky, but other than that, there isn't much to criticize about this team.  It is a real shame that ownership won't fork over some money to compliment this great young core with a couple of key free agents.

5. Washington Nationals

Even with Stephen Strasburg, this is a boring team.  Strasburg is starting the season in AA, so who am I supposed to write about?   I'll tell you who, Willie Harris.  Harris is one of the most underappreciated players in baseball.  Over the last three seasons, he has contributed 5.9 WAR despite accumulating only 1200 plate appearances.  Will someone please give this guy a full time job?  Also, Adam Dunn may post a UZR score so bad that it causes someone at Fangraphs head to explode. 

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