NL East Power Rankings: Phillies weather June adversity to hang on to top spot

It was a rocky month, but the Phillies persevered through travel and injuries to hold on to the title of the best team in the NL East and baseball.
Philadelphia Phillies v Detroit Tigers
Philadelphia Phillies v Detroit Tigers / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

The National League East remained largely unchanged in June, with the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves remaining in first and second place, respectively. That didn't mean it was a cakewalk by any means, as international travel, injuries and a resurgent New York Mets team all entered the discussion as factors that could impact the division in July.

As we turn the page on June, we'll dive into factors influencing our latest NL East power rankings.

NL East Power Rankings: Phillies weather June adversity to hang on to top spot

The Phillies still claim the best winning percentage in baseball with a 55-29 record and a comfortable 8.0-game lead over the rival Braves for the top spot in the NL East. Currently 6-4 in their last 10 games, the Phillies will be tasked with trying to hold onto a division lead without the help of injured core players like Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and J.T. Realmuto until sometime around the All-Star break.

No. 1: Philadelphia Phillies (prev. No. 1)

The Phillies survived June with the best record in MLB and continued to maintain a healthy lead over the Braves for the top spot in the division. But June was a trying month, with the team facing challenges as injuries to key players piled up, and as they tried to shake off jet lag from travelling to the UK for the London Series.

After enduring a rough patch against the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles when they returned stateside, the Phillies got back to playing winning baseball, with the starting pitching continuing to be among the best in MLB. NL Player of the Month Bryce Harper continued his hot hitting when the calendar flipped, and Kyle Schwarber went on another June homer barrage.

The Phillies will have their work cut out for them during the first few weeks of July as Harper (hamstring), Schwarber (groin), and J.T. Realmuto (knee) will all be absent from the lineup until sometime nearer the All-Star break. Injuries to starting pitchers Taijuan Walker and Spencer Turnbull have created a void in the fifth spot in the rotation, and the Phillies will hope rookie Michael Mercado can step in and provide a few quality starts.

No. 2: Atlanta Braves (prev. No. 2)

While the Atlanta Braves currently sit 8.0 games back of the Phillies for the division lead, manager Brian Snitker was adamant that his team isn't waving the white flag and allowing the Phillies to run away with the division. The Braves have answered that challenge and proved that they won't let adversity affect their goals of trying to win the NL East for the seventh consecutive season.

The Braves have been forced to adjust to life without starting pitcher Spencer Strider and 2023 NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr., both lost to season-ending injuries. At 46-36, the Braves have been carried by MVP-level numbers being put up by slugger Marcell Ozuna, while Chris Sale, Max Fried and Reynaldo López have been stellar on the mound all season long.

With Austin Riley back in the lineup and the potential for Ozzie Albies to get hot at any time, don't count the Braves out just yet. With some obvious needs ahead of the MLB trade deadline, the Braves will likely have some new weapons to play with when power rankings are released next month. With a head-to-head matchup between the Phillies and Braves slated for next weekend, the division could look very different next Sunday evening.

No. 3: New York Mets (prev. No. 4)

The New York Mets swap spots with the Washington Nationals this month following a remarkable period of play that saw the Mets sitting at .500 with a 40-40 record at the end of June. It was probably premature to write off the Mets completely during the first few months of the season, and now they are playing their way into the Wild Card discussion. Maybe that closed-door team meeting in May paid some dividends?

For Mets fans looking for the team to hit its stride this season, the surprising and somewhat comical 12-2 winning streak the Mets went on following a first pitch delivered by a notable fast-food mascot sparked an unexpected team rally. All jokes aside, this Mets team played its best baseball in June and is starting to look like potential buyers ahead of the trade deadline.

No. 4: Washington Nationals (prev. No. 3)

The Nationals swap places with the Mets in this month's power rankings. They find themselves fourth in the NL East with a record of 39-44 and a disappointing 14.5 games back of the Phillies with little hope of making up ground before the MLB trade deadline. With top prospect James Wood making his debut this week, the Nationals are ready to flip the switch and give the fans a glimpse at the future.

The Nationals are currently in the midst of a rebuild. As they continue to tread water in the standings, the more likely it will be that the Nats make deals to trade established players like outfielders Lane Thomas and Jesse Winker and closer Kyle Finnegan. Team chemistry could become a main focus of the Nationals after a dugout fight between pitcher Mackenzie Gore and third baseman Nick Senzel further highlighted problems within the clubhouse.

No. 5: Miami Marlins (prev. No. 5)

The Marlins remain in the NL East basement with a 30-54 record and have little hope of contending in 2024 after a steady wave of injuries ravaged their starting rotation over the first couple months of the season. Despite splitting a four-game series against the injury-depleted Phillies to close out June, change is likely around the corner for the Marlins with the MLB trade deadline looming on July 30.

The Marlins have plenty of pieces that contending teams will certainly covet in the next few weeks. The Phillies have already been one of a handful of teams rumored to have interest in closer Tanner Scott, and veteran bats like Josh Bell, Jake Burger and Jazz Chisholm Jr. could all be moved for a decent haul of prospects by the end of July as the Marlins enter into rebuild mode.