NL East: Grading each team’s 2022 season
The National League East was MLB’s best division in 2022. Three of the five teams made the postseason and one, the Phillies, made the World Series. The Braves and Mets each won more than 100 games. The Marlins and Nationals, meanwhile, finished about where most prognosticators expected.
Here is a synopsis and grade for every NL East team.
Atlanta Braves (1st | 101-61) Grade: A
It may seem strange giving the Braves a better grade than the club that represented the NL in the World Series, but Atlanta was a better team.
The Braves did virtually nothing that was below average, at least statistically. 1B Matt Olson (3.3 bWAR, 34 HR), SS Dansby Swanson (5.7 bWAR, 25 HR) and 3B Austin Riley (6.5 bWAR, 38 HR) were among many players who stood out.
Atlanta’s pitching ranked near the top of the league in ERA, strikeouts, walks and saves. Max Fried (14-7, 2.48 ERA) is one of the finalists for the NL Cy Young Award, and Spencer Strider (11-5, 2.67 ERA) could win NL Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, Kenley Jansen (41 SV, 3.38 ERA) could win the Reliever of the Year Award.
MORE: AL: East | West | Central | NL: East | West | Central
Philadelphia Phillies (3rd | 87-75) Grade: A
The club benefitted from stellar hitting (205 HR, fourth in NL), carried by catcher J.T. Realmuto (6.5 bWAR, 22 HR) and OF Bryce Harper (2.5 bWAR, 18 HR), and solid pitching (3.97 ERA, ninth), led by Aaron Nola (11-13, 3.25 ERA) and Zack Wheeler (12-7, 2.82 ERA).
The Phillies’ regular-season play was solid, but it’s the postseason that earned them the “A.”
Philadelphia got hot at the optimal time. It steamrolled the Cardinals in the wild-card series (2-0), the Braves in the NLDS (3-1) and the Padres in the NLCS (4-1) before losing in the World Series to the Astros in six games.
That a wild-card team caught fire and went all the way to the Series says a lot about the Phillies’ talent.
New York Mets (2nd | 101-61) Grade: A-
Before the season, owner Steve Cohen made it clear that he would make the moves to get a World Series title. Then the trade deadline came and went with the Mets making a handful of minor moves. New York acquired OF Tyler Naquin from the Reds, 1B Daniel Vogelbach from the Pirates, 1B Darin Ruf from the Giants and RHP Mychal Givens from the Cubs.
None of those names are on the same level as Juan Soto, Willson Contreras and David Robertson, all of whom the Mets were supposedly in on at the deadline.
The Mets finished just below average in home runs (171), but they led the NL in hits (1,422) and batting average (.259). A strong performance by 2B Jeff McNeil (5.7 bWAR, .326 AVG) helped.
Washington Nationals (5th | 55-107) Grade: C+
The Nationals looked more like a Triple-A team than a MLB team. Only 1B/OF Joey Meneses (1.1 bWAR, 13 HR) looked okay on offense. The duo of journeyman Erasmo Ramirez (60 G, 2.92 ERA) and Kyle Finnegan (66 G, 3.51 ERA) looked promising on the pitching side.
So, how does this team earn a C+ when it lost 107 games? Two words: trade deadline. The Nationals sold high on OF Juan Soto and 1B Josh Bell, flipping the stars to the Padres for one of the best prospects packages the game has seen.
For Soto and Bell, the Nationals landed INF CJ Abrams (No. 11 prospect in baseball at the time), LHP MacKenzie Gore, OFs Robert Hassell III (No. 22 prospect in baseball per MLB.com) and James Wood (No. 34) and RHP Jarlin Susana and 1B Luke Voit. Susana and Voit were late throw-ins, but the rest of the package will be around to help the Nationals for many years.
Miami Marlins (4th | 69-93) Grade: D
Nobody expected the Marlins to be good, so the fourth-place finish was expected. The Fish finished near the bottom of the National League in home runs, RBI, hits, walks and batting average.
The bright spots on offense were infielders Jazz Chisholm Jr. (2.4 bWAR, .254 AVG) and Jon Berti (2.5 bWAR, .240 AVG). Chisholm was off to a red-hot start before he went down with a back injury that cost him the rest of the season. Berti led the major leagues with 41 stolen bases.
Sandy Alcantara (14-9, 2.28 ERA) probably will win the NL Cy Young Award, so there’s hope in Miami, which has pieces in place to be good soon.