Heading into the 2009 season, many experts agreed the NL East was one of the most competitive divisions in baseball ranking only behind the AL East. Something happened between March and now, because only 1 team in the NL East currently has a winning record (Phillies). In fact, in terms of winning percentage the NL East is the least competitive division in the majors, and it's not all the Nationals fault.
1st- Philadelphia Phillies (39-34):
This division is theirs for the taking, and could be easily had if they only were able to play winning baseball at home (13-22). They're the only team in the East with a positive run differential (+23), and are are holding on to 1st place because of their astonishing road record (26-12). Pitching has been this team's Achilles heel. The staff sports a 4.80 ERA, the starters continually have short performances, the bullpen blows leads, and they all give up tons of homeruns (107). The offense and defense have kept the Phils afloat with a NL best 5.3 runs scored per game and .990 fielding %. Injuries to Brett Myers, Raul Ibanez, Scott Eyre, Clay Condrey, and Brad Lidge have taken the wind out of the defending champs sails, but better times are ahead.
2nd- Florida Marlins (39-39):
Many figured this team would make some noise with their excellent core of young talent, especially in the pitching department. A lot has gone wrong for the Fish though, with only starting pitcher Josh Johnson holding up to the hype. Even when their pitching does seem to create outs, the defense is liable to cough it up (59 errors). Florida's offense has its moments, but they lead the majors in strikeouts and have instability at a couple positions (3rd & CF). There's no doubting the legitimacy of SS Hanley Ramirez as one of the best all-around talents in the game today.
3rd- New York Mets (37-38):
What the hell is wrong with this team? Their offense has a terrific batting average (.273), yet they lack the ability to drive in runs. There has been a power outage in Queens, as the Mets have hit a MLB worst 47 homeruns so far this season. Their defense and pitching have been good at times and bad at others. K-Rod has been great at the back end of the bullpen, but Putz was a disaster. Johan is still doing his thing and Livan Hernandez has been the durable innings-eater they needed. There have been plenty of injuries though- JJ Putz, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Oliver Perez, John Maine, and Carlos Delgado. Time for the Phils to kick 'em while they're down.
4th- Atlanta Braves (35-40):
With a tremendous pitching staff (3.89 ERA) the Braves should have a far better record than they do. The problem has been their sputtering offense, even with the addition of Nate McLouth. Brian McCann is truly the only position player doing what he is capable of. The left side of the infield has been particularly feeble on defense (Chipper Jones/3B 13 errors, Yunel Escobar/SS 11 errors). This is how bad the Braves offense has been- Javier Vazquez has a 3.04 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 125 k's in 106.2 ip, and has a losing record of 5-7.
5th- Washington Nationals (22-52):
The worst team in baseball, I need not say more.
Joe Blanton against Derek Lowe in Atlanta.