The NL East was much stronger than the off-season projections for 2016, and the division put 2 teams into the post-season. The division was hit hard by injuries to key players, and the death of Jose Fernandez.
Fangraphs’ 2016 projections were perfect on their prediction ordering for the top 3 teams in the NL East and for nailing the Atlanta Braves wins even though their W/L was off by 7 for the Nats, 2 for the Mets, -1.5 for the Marlins and 5 for the Phillies.
The 2017 projections are not out yet for the NL East, and early looks at the NL East are all about health and acquisitions and dispositions.
Nationals: The health of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and the free agency of Wilson Ramos
Mets: The health of Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Steven Matz and David Wright and the status of Yoenis Cespedes as to whether he declares for free agency.
Marlins: The death of Jose Fernandez left a hole in this team as he was the leader of this team. How do the Marlins upgrade in this off-season. They return their entire starting position players as they extended Martin Prado while also picking up the option on Ichiro Suzuki. Will they trade some position players and prospects to get pitching? Who will the Marlins acquire in free agency?
Braves: The Braves picked up Matt Kemp and Ender Inciarte along with several pitchers. They have already extended the contract of their closer, Jim Johnson. The Braves plan to spend in free agency.
Phillies: They are young and will get younger after they cut ties with Ryan Howard. The team beat expectations in 2016 even though the Phillies fell far short of a winning season, but you can see the progress. On top of that, the Phillies have cash to spend in free agency and could make a splash for some of the biggest names as they are looking for a #1 pitcher and an impact 1st baseman.
The issue most of the NL East teams will have is that the free agent market is weak this year. There will most likely be a number of trades made.
We will revisit this post many times this off-season as Fangraphs puts out their projections for 2017.