NL East Power Rankings: Did the Phillies do enough in April to catch the Braves?

Was the Phillies' strong second half of the month enough to upset the balance of power in the NL East?
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Phillies began the 2024 season with a disappointing first home stand against the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds and found themselves with a record of 8-8 on April 15. Following a seven-game winning streak and consecutive series sweeps of the Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox, the Phillies made their first jump up the standings and haven't looked back since, with a 21-11 record after starting May with a win.

The National League East has become a far more competitive division over the last two seasons. Last year, the Braves, Phillies and Miami Marlins all made postseason appearances. The Phillies swept the Marlins in the Wild Card Series and then knocked out the division-winning Braves in the NLDS for the second time in two postseasons.

Once again, the Phillies made their way to the NLCS but ultimately fell short of making their second consecutive World Series appearance after falling to the Arizona Diamondbacks in seven games.

The Braves are still the team to beat in the NL East. Despite getting bounced by the Phillies in the playoffs the last two seasons, the Braves have won the division an impressive six years in a row. Could this be the year the Phillies overtake them for the top spot? Or could another rival like the Marlins, New York Mets or Washington Nationals force their name into the conversation?

Let's take a look at the power rankings in the NL East after the first month of the season.

No. 1: Atlanta Braves

The Braves are off to another strong start, beginning the season with a 20-9 record. They currently lead the Phillies in the division by 0.5 games. Many thought the Braves would fall off after the news that ace starting pitcher and preseason Cy Young favorite Spencer Strider was lost for the season due to elbow surgery. That hasn't been the case so far.

Despite slow starts from reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley and Matt Olson, the Braves have been led offensively by great first-month performances from Marcell Ozuna and Ozzie Albies. Heading into Wednesday's action, Ozuna is hitting .327 with nine home runs and 31 RBI.

The Braves' starting pitching has been solid as well, with Chris Sale, Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Reynaldo López all picking up the slack in Strider's absence. Can the Braves maintain their lead in the division without Strider and catcher Sean Murphy? They've been dealt some adversity, so it will be interesting to see if they can fend off the Phillies for the division lead ahead of the next power rankings.

No. 2: Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies overcame a slow start to re-enter the discussion of being one of the best teams in MLB and the first to win 20 games. The offense's inconsistency in two early season series losses against the Braves and the Reds had many fans nervous that this team was heading for a regression in 2024. Luckily, it was just a matter of time before the team returned to its slugging ways.

The Phillies probably wouldn't be here without a stretch of amazing performances from starters Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suárez and Spencer Turnbull. It's hard to even know where to begin when describing their dominance. Suárez led the way with a remarkable 32-inning scoreless stretch.

Alec Bohm has been a force to be reckoned with at the plate over the last couple of weeks. The reigning NL Player of the Week is off to the best start of his career with a .366 batting average, four home runs, 41 hits and 30 RBI.

Trea Turner and Brandon Marsh also led the way offensively in April, and the balanced attack of solid starting pitching and an offense firing on all cylinders continues to make the Phillies one of the most dangerous teams in the NL East.

No. 3: New York Mets

The New York Mets are 15-14 and find themselves third in the NL East. This is a Mets team that has endured injuries to ace Kodai Senga and other rotation arms yet remained a slightly above-average team in April.

Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor began the season mired in a slump but has turned things around of late, yet is still batting only .197 with five long balls. Decent starts from slugger Pete Alonso (eight home runs) and Starling Marte (.288 batting average) have helped keep the Mets competitive in the early going.

With free agent signing J.D. Martinez recently activated and Brandon Nimmo likely to get hot at some point, the Mets will likely improve as a team in May.

No. 4: Washington Nationals

The 14-15 Nationals aren't expected to contend in 2024 as they continue a rebuild stretching into year two. They took a hit when starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg announced his retirement following a promising yet injury-riddled career. With main rotation pieces Patrick Corbin and Mackenzie Gore off to tough starts on the mound, it's been a predictably rough go.

Despite hot starts from young shortstop CJ Abrams and offseason addition Jesse Winker, the Nationals offense struggled to score runs in April. They will hope that 2023 All-Star Lane Thomas and injured catcher Keibert Ruiz can add some punch to the lineup in May.

The Nationals are unlikely to contend for a few seasons as they allow their young core to continue to grow as major league players in 2024.

No. 5: Miami Marlins

The baseball gods have dealt the 7-24 Miami Marlins a raw deal with devastating injuries to nearly their entire rotation. Sandy Alcántara and Eury Pérez are both out for the season due to Tommy John surgery, and Jesús Luzardo recently went on the IL and had his elbow checked out. That's a tough development for a team that made the playoffs as a Wild Card last season.

In the wake of injuries to starting pitching, the offense hasn't done much to pick up the slack. Youngster Jazz Chisholm Jr. and first baseman Josh Bell struggled at the plate in April, and the rest of the Marlins lineup hasn't been much better. The Marlins will likely be a team shipping off veterans at the trade deadline, and a season-long stay at the bottom of the NL East division is likely.