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Braves Running Away With NL East

Braves Running Away With NL East

With an MLB-best .671 winning percentage, the Atlanta Braves hold a healthy eight-game lead in the National League East over the Miami Marlins (.575). The Braves’ lead is the biggest in the league, and, as a result, the MLB odds for Atlanta to win the division are -5000.

The New York Mets were expected to challenge the Braves for the NL East after running up a massive bill during the offseason. Despite entering 2023 with the highest payroll in MLB history, the Mets are 18 games off the lead. They could easily finish behind the Philadelphia Phillies and lowly Washington Nationals in fifth place. While it might be tempting to take a chance with the profitable MLB lines on teams other than Atlanta, the Braves are on a 9-1 streak and will be tough to catch.

Braves Running Away With NL East
Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves poses for a photo during Photo Day/Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

Let’s take a look at how the five teams stack up and pass judgment with positives and negatives for each.

Atlanta Braves

  • Record: 57-28
  • Odds to win the Division: -5000

Award candidates: Ronald Acuna Jr, MVP -350; Matt Olson, MVP +4000; Spencer Strider, Cy Young +600

Biggest surprise: Matt Olson. Olson has always been a viable power hitter, but his 28 home runs and 68 RBIs in 85 games puts him on pace for a career year.

Biggest disappointment: Max Fried. Fried lands in this spot based on injury and not so much due to his stats in limited action. Fried has a 2-1 record with a 2.08 ERA and 1.08 WHIP but only made five starts and hasn’t pitched since the first week in May.

Atlanta is projected to win 100+ games and continue their assault on the NL East. While they are in a near-lock to win their sixth straight NL East title, it’s too late to get worthwhile MLB betting value on the heavy favorites.

Miami Marlins

Award candidates: Luis Arraez, MVP +2000; Eury Perez, ROY +4000

Biggest surprise: Luis Arraez. In his first season in Miami, Arraez is hitting an absurd .387 over 310 at-bats. Arraez would have the highest average if the season ended today since Tony Gwynn hit .393 in 1994.

Biggest disappointment: Sandy Alcantara. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is 3-7 with a 4.93 ERA. His Las Vegas odds to win the Cy Young are so long they aren’t even listed after posting a 7.20 ERA in July.

The Marlins are a tough team to make sense of. On the one hand, they have some of the most exciting young talents in the league, with Arraez and Eury Perez, and the second-best record in the division. However, the Marlins also have the worst run differential (-8) among all second-place teams.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Record: 45-39
  • Odds to win the Division: +2500

Award candidates: Zach Wheeler, Cy Young +1800;

Biggest surprise: Bryson Stott. The Phillies’ sophomore second baseman took a massive step forward with a .296 average and seven home runs in 78 starts this year. His 2.1 WAR is second-best on the team behind Nick Castellanos (2.2).

Biggest disappointment: Trea Turner. Turner looks nothing like the superstar Philly thought they got after the shortstop hit .298 or better in five straight seasons. But Turner is stuck in a rut, hitting just .246 with 88 strikeouts in 83 games.

With Stott and Bradon Marsh combining for a better WAR than Turner, Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and Jt. Realmuto combined, it’s hard to imagine Philly having the mojo to make a run at the division.

New York Mets

  • Record: 39-46
  • Odds to win the Division: +10000

Award candidates: Pete Alonso., MVP +4000; Francisco Alvarez, ROY +4000; Kodai Senga, ROY +8000

Biggest surprise: Kodai Senga. Senga has been one of the brightest spots on the Mets’ rotation at 6-5 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.35 WHIP as a 30-year-old rookie. He’s a long shot to win the Rookie of the Year and would have been a pivotal piece to the team’s playoff run if the rest of the rotation would chip in.

Biggest disappointment: Justin Verlander. The 40-year-old Verlander was one of the biggest offseason signings and moved the Mets’ payroll to historic levels. The trouble is that Verlander missed more than a month to start the season and has a 3.66 ERA and a 3-4 record after making a late debut.

The Mets are a lesson to owners that spending money on aging superstars is a risky gambit. Both Verlander and Max Scherzer are playing below expectations and are dragging New York into the abyss of the NL East.

Washington Nationals

Award candidates: N/A

Biggest surprise: Lane Thomas. The outfielder is having a breakout season at age 27 with a .301 batting average and 14 home runs in 83 starts. His average ranks him in the top 10 of the MLB, and his .856 OPS ranks 25th.

Biggest disappointment: Joey Meneses. After hitting .324 with 13 home runs in 56 games as a rookie in 2022, expectations for Meneses were high during the offseason. But Meneses is falling short of his rookie year with a .281 average and just two home runs in 78 starts. He’s not playing badly, but he is far below expectations.

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