As pitchers and catchers arrive in Florida and Arizona, Baseball Prospectus will be previewing every division in MLB. Up first: the NL East and the AL East.
The Philadelphia Phillies dominated the National League East at the end of the past decade -- winning three straight division titles (aided in 2007 and 2008 by the New York Mets' collapsing in the season's final weeks) and advancing to the last two World Series as the NL rep.
The Phillies will try to make it four NL East crowns in a row this season, though the resurgent Atlanta Braves, resourceful Florida Marlins and retooled Washington Nationals will all be hunting as well. The Mets also made a big offseason move by signing left fielder Jason Bay to a four-year, $66 million contract as a free agent. The Phillies did not stand still, either, trading for Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay to be their new rotation anchor, clearing a spot for Halladay by trading left-hander Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners and signing Placido Polanco as a free agent to replace Pedro Feliz at third base.
Here is how the NL East stacks up in the eyes of PECOTA, Baseball Prospectus' proprietary system that projects player and team performance based on comparison with thousands of player seasons: