The NL East should be the most competitive division in baseball. Where do the Phillies have an edge, and where do they lag behind their competition?
The NL East should be the most competitive division in baseball. Four of the five teams have a realistic chance to win the division, and the Phillies are one of them. Winning the division will be tough, but the Phillies have a good chance to do so. Here’s how the Phils compare to the rest of the division, starting off with last year’s division winners.
Where the Phillies are better: Aces. Mike Foltynewicz had a great season for the Atlanta Braves, posting a 13-10 record with 2.85 ERA and 202 strikeouts, yet he wasn’t even a top three pitcher in the division. Aaron Nola was, finishing third in Cy Young voting with a 17-6 record, a 2.37 ERA and 224 strikeouts.
Jake Arrieta had an up-and-down season for the Phils, but still posted an ERA of 3.96. He had a blazing start to the season but really struggled down the stretch. Some of these struggles can be pinned on his meniscus injury, and it’s fair to question whether he’ll rebound at age 32. He does have a Cy Young and World Series on his resume, and showed last year he can still be a great pitcher. Julio Teheran (3.94) and Sean Newcomb (3.90) both had comparable ERAs, but neither can compare with Arrieta’s resume.
Where the Phillies are worse: Hitting for average. The Phillies team average was .234 last year, second-worst in the National League. On the other hand, the Braves batted .257, good for second-best. Freddie Freeman batted .309, Nick Markakis batted .297 and Ronald Acuna batted .293.
The Phillies highest average belonged to Maikel Franco at .270. As for the rest of Atlanta’s slash line, they had a .324 on-base percentage, and a .417 slugging percentage, both good for fifth in the circuit. The Phillies had an on-base percentage of .314 and a slugging percentage of .393, good for 10th and 11th, respectively. The additions of Jean Segura (.304 average last year) and J.T. Realmuto (.277 average last year) should help narrow the gap, but Atlanta should still get more hits than the Phils this year.