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National League East Weekly Roundup

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Let’s take a look at how things are shaping up around the NL East a week into Spring Training.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

As you might recall, over the course of the 2020 season, I would attempt to provide weekly updates regarding what’s been happening around the division. It’s time to begin that process again! Spring Training caveat: Wins and losses don’t matter, but it does give me a way to organize teams, so I will still be using that methodology.

Miami Marlins (4-0)

The Marlins. The darlings of the East a year ago. We all remember how I kept insisting Miami would flounder, only for them to repeatedly tell me to get lost, and then continue to win enough games to make it to the expanded version of the playoffs. Will they do the same this year? Probably not. It’s more likely they’ll finish last and not be ultra-competitive in any sense. A year ago, they were an aberration. This year, I expect they’ll be more aligned with traditional Marlins’ expectations.

One up: Brian Anderson

There’s hardly any data to draw from, so we’ll make inferences based on the smallest of sample sizes and irresponsibly denote certain players to “watch out for” and certain players to be worried about. Watch out for Anderson, who, through seven AB’s has a .429 average and 1.429 OPS. He’s certainly been a reason why Miami has the second-highest run differential in the NL (+11).

One down: Corey Dickerson

Dickerson was good in Tampa, he was good in Pittsburgh, and last year he was about average in Miami. He’s perhaps trending downward, with the lefty about to turn 32 in three months. He’s off to a slow start, hitting .143 over his seven AB’s.

Philadelphia Phillies (3-2)

The Phillies desperately needed to address their dismal bullpen if they wanted to be a factor in 2021. There were myriad ways to do that, what with the relief arms available on the open market. The one that sticks out the most is the addition of Archie Bradley. Other than that, however, they spent a lot of time signing relief arms to minor league contracts, including Tony Watson, Brandon Kintzler, and David Paulino. It’s an interesting strategy. Let’s see if it works out.

One up: Bryan Mitchell

Through his whopping three innings of work, Mitchell has a 0.67 WHIP and .182 BAA. He hasn’t given up a run, nor has he walked a batter; he’s also struck out five. The most Mitchell’s pitched in a season was 22.2 innings with the Yankees in 2017. Maybe he’ll be a valuable addition for Philadelphia, whether out of the pen or to start.

One down: Scott Kingery

His .222 average isn’t very becoming of the young Kingery, who’s signed through 2023. A year ago, he posted a below average wRC+ (37), and a 101 figure a year before that. The Phillies decided to extend Kingery early, hoping for the advantage to swing to the organization’s side. Thus far, Kingery’s had a tough time producing to the preferred level. That’s alright, though, as he’ll get another chance in a normal regular season.

Atlanta Braves (3-3)

The Braves were able to capture the division a year ago — something that I expect they’ll do again. Many projections diverge from my thought process, though, opting instead for the Mets (we’ll see about that). In the heart of Georgia can be found the East’s toughest foe.

One up: Austin Riley

The young Riley has been below average in terms of wRC+ for his time thus far in the major leagues, beginning in 2019. But Spring Training has him off and running, a trend the (nearly) 24-year-old would like to see continue. Through nine AB’s, Riley is hitting .556 with a 1.111 OPS.

One down: Ronald Acuna

Nats’ fans will love to hear it, I’m sure, and of course I wouldn’t expect it to continue. Acuna’s three games, eight AB’s, has him trending south: .125 average, .375 OPS. Those numbers must mean something, right? I mean, he’s got the second most at-bats on the team, after all...

New York Mets (2-2)

Last year, the Mets made noise with their bats. They needed to shore up the pitching side of things in order to compete in a meaningful way in 2021 — not unlike the Phillies. Much of the fanfare surrounding the Mets had to do with new owner Steve Cohen, as well as adding Francisco Lindor and James McCann; they also got stiffed by Trevor Bauer.

One up: Brandon Nimmo

Nimmo’s last full season, which came in 2018, was exceptional. He had a 148 wRC+ and contributed 4.5 fWAR. He also had above average numbers in both 2019 (over 69 games while he dealt with a bulging disc in his neck) and 2020.

He’s started his spring with a .714 average and 2.036 OPS.

One down: Jonathan Villar

Villar’s been riding the carousel of late, making stops in places like Baltimore, Miami, and now New York. He was not productive in 2020, but he had a 109 wRC+ in 2019. New York’s hoping he finds his ‘19 form, but he hasn’t registered a hit yet this spring.

Washington Nationals (1-3)

The Nats severely underachieved a year ago, thanks to a culmination of problems. This year, many expect it to be different, with most projections slotting them either second or third in the division (a division which might well be the toughest in baseball). They went out and made “sneaky” additions to bolster their roster, and we’ll see if their plug-and-play mentality will be enough to push them back into contention.

One up: Jordy Mercer

I have a personal connection here, as I have a Mercer #10 Pirates’ jersey hanging in my closet at this very moment. Mercer’s never been great, but he’s had solid seasons. His 2020 was underwhelming, to say the least, having only appeared in nine games and actually attracting a negative fWAR in that short amount of time (-0.1). Maybe the tide is shifting with a .333 average and .956 OPS.

One down: Andrew Stevenson

His .182 average and .432 OPS aren’t inspiring, but he’s only had 11 at-bats. I will say, though, that’s more AB’s than any other played mentioned on this list. Stevenson will likely be one of the last guys off the bench, so production isn’t necessarily expected, I wouldn’t say, but rather hoped for. But hey, it’s early.

There you have it. The first iteration of the weekly report. As you know, there’s virtually no statistical data to go to to draw valuable conclusions, but here we are. I just missed the updates that much. Surely every player on the One up line is going to have an excellent year, while every player on the One down line is going to have a terrible year. Surely. See you next week.