1. Atlanta Braves (34-22)
The Braves have conquered the East once again, heading back to the playoffs as division winners. Atlanta pretty much had its way in the division all season, with no real challengers emerging.
Team MVP: Freddie Freeman. His 3.1 fWAR, 12 homers, and 185 wRC+ carried a huge load for this team. While there were other noticeable bright spots in the Atlanta lineup — Marcell Ozuna and Ronald Acuna Jr., to name a couple — it was Freeman who stood out the most.
2. Miami Marlins (29-28)
Yes, the Marlins continue to surprise. As of right now, they’re in line to capture a playoff spot as we head into the final weekend of the season. Unbelievably, their -42 run differential (worst in the division) has held them up enough, with some luck, to make a run into the playoffs. However, they get the Yankees to conclude the season. We’ll see how that series treats them.
Team MVP: The team. I don’t know if it was grit, fortitude, luck (probably mostly luck), or anything else, but somehow the Marlins managed to stay relevant, despite a roster with names that few recognize, as well as the first team to face major COVID problems. Miami’s push to the playoffs has been intriguing. I wrote them off in nearly every entry over the last couple months. I have continued to be wrong. Good for the Fish.
3. Philadelphia Phillies (28-29)
The Phillies are right on the outside looking in, trying to make one final push to either overtake the Marlins in the division and take the second East spot into the postseason, or to overtake the Reds of Giants, who currently hold the two wild card spots. In addition to replacing any of the aforementioned teams, Philadelphia has the Brewers breathing down their necks. Like the Marlins, the Phillies have another AL East powerhouse to contend with in the final week of the season: the Rays. Since both the Yankees and Rays have captured playoff spots, they might not be playing with as much urgency as their opponents. The final weekend of the National League season will be a lot of fun.
Team MVP: Aaron Nola. The Phillies have a team of “just enough” — or maybe, not quite enough. There were no obvious standouts, just a bunch of guys performing similarly to one another. Nola was the fWAR leader, though only barely, and a host of other guys are close to his 1.9 mark, including newcomer Zack Wheeler (1.8). His stats were good, though not great, including a 3.06 ERA and 3.23 FIP. He’s sort of a microcosm for what the whole team was.
4. New York Mets (26-31)
The Mets are now playing out the hourglass of their season. They trail both the Phillies and Brewers in the wild card race and, while not technically eliminated yet, so much would need to go right for New York that it’s virtually impossible. Another season lost in Queens.
Team MVP: Consistency. As in, the Mets consistently disappoint their fanbase. But if I had to pick a player: Jacob deGrom, as is usually the case. He led the way with 2.6 fWAR to go along with a 2.14 ERA and 1.99 FIP. His talent is being squandered in New York, but sometimes that’s the way it goes — right, Mike Trout? He’s got at least a couple more years with the Mets. For his sake, maybe they’ll put something together over that time. Probably not.
5. Washington Nationals (23-34)
As readers are keenly aware, this season is now over for the Nationals, as well. Not the type of season the team or fanbase wanted, but here we are. It’s time to look towards the future.
Team MVP: Trea Turner and Juan Soto were both close in terms of fWAR (2.5 versus 2.1). If it hadn’t been for the COVID issues at the beginning of the season, Soto likely would’ve surpassed Turner in output in all facets, not just the ones I’m about to mention. For me, Soto’s 201 wRC+ put him over the edge. He also led the team with 13 home runs, as of this writing. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that in a year of bleakness, Soto still managed a bit of light for fans. Oh, well. Here’s to 2021.