Another week is wrapping up around baseball. Here’s your quick and tidy “one big thing” for each club in this week’s NL East Roundup.
Philadelphia Phillies (10-10)
One big thing: Road woes. At 10-10, the Phillies might currently lead the National League East, but if their early road record is any indication, it’s going to be a difficult spot to maintain. The Phils are 2-6 on the road, which is the worst mark in the East — and one of the worst marks in baseball. Extrapolating from that number, the returns on the road will be next-to-nothing for a team competing for the division. Fortunately for the Phillies, the East is panning out exactly as we expected: A bunch of teams capable of winning the division fighting in close-quarters battle with one another.
New York Mets (8-8)
One big thing: Jacob deGrom. You knew it was coming. Thus far in 2021, it’s the Mets’ pitching that’s carrying them to where they are — and in particular, deGrom. Currently, New York is being outscored 67-52 (6-10 x/W-L), but it’s no matter for deGrom, who’s posting video game numbers. Through four starts, the 32-year-old has numbers that don’t make any sense: 0.31 ERA, 0.85 FIP, 8 ERA-, 0.55 WHIP, 49.5 percent K%, and 1.8 fWAR. It’s his world and we’re just living it.
Atlanta Braves (9-10)
One big thing: Ronald Acuńa, Jr. Perhaps not to the same extent as deGrom, Acuńa is dominating the game in Atlanta. I listed him as the “one big thing” for the Braves last week, but his work is simply too good to escape mention. Through 76 plate appearances, Acuna carries a 1.294 OPS, 236 wRC+, .532 wOBA, and 1.5 fWAR. There’s the argument to be made about who’s the next face of baseball; with Juan Soto sidelined, now is a good time to shine the entire spotlight on the Braves’ outfielder.
Miami Marlins (9-11)
One big thing: Not last place. I don’t know why I feel the incessant need to rail against the Marlins; maybe it’s the stadium, the location, the uniforms, I don’t know. But I started steadily mocking the organization a year ago and they continued to prove me wrong. Now, in a competitive East, they’re doing the same. While the Fish are two games under .500, they carry a +2 run differential, which is better than literally any other team in the division. Miami’s team ERA is ninth best in baseball (3.66), but its wRC+ is eighth worst in baseball (88). What do you get when you combine those two numbers? A roughly average baseball team. That might be all the Marlins are capable of this year, but they’re faring better than what I generally expect of them, often consigning them to the cellar of the division.
Washington Nationals (8-10)
One big thing: Josh Harrison. Harrison isn’t setting the world on fire like some of the other players we mention in these roundups, but he’s climbed a long way from the depths he fell to near the end of his stint in Pittsburgh. Now in his second season with the Nationals, the veteran utility man is seeing consistent playing time at one position and is improving his production from even a year ago. Harrison carries a 136 wRC+ for the Nats to go along with his .343 BABIP and .850 OPS. By comparison, while he was in Detroit, Harrison 21 wRC+, .480 OPS, and had a -0.7 fWAR after 147 plate appearances.