Over the last two weeks, I previewed the division races in the American League. This week I will be covering the National League. Up first is the NL East. We will organize our discussion by current standings.
60-49 | division lead
Following a 2013 season where they fell four games short of a wild card birth and 10 games out of first in the NL East, the Nationals have taken control of a weak NL East.
Washington’s offense has struggled recently. Denard Span has the highest average on the team at .291, and their team BA of .250 is 19th in the league. Also, Bryce Harper spent three months on the DL earlier this season, which certainly hurt their offensive output. However, there are some bright spots. The Nats traded for Asdrubal Cabrera at the deadline, who adds some much-needed power and a decent bat to the lineup (not to mention some flashy fielding). Also, Harper has been been slowly heating up sine his return to the majors, and is now hitting .260 on the season.
As the 2014 pennant race starts to kick into gear, we explore a number of teams who need to look to 2015 and beyond for their chance to compete. The third team we’ll discuss is the New York Mets.
For the last few years, they have been playing second fiddle to the other New York team, the Yankees. They have not made the playoffs since 2006, nor even finished with a winning record since 2008. A lot of people blame the Mets’ woes on a hesitance by their owners, the Wilpon family, to spend money. While this may be true, the Mets have done a good job of rebuilding and developing talent at both the major and minor league levels.
Core position players to build around
The current face of the Mets’ franchise is homegrown star third baseman David Wright. The 31 year old was named the fourth captain in team history prior to the 2013 season, about a year after signing a long-term extension to keep him playing in New York through 2020. Wright might not put up 30 home runs and 100 RBIs a year anymore (he’s batting .285 with just 8 home runs in 2014), but his consistency and leadership have proven invaluable in a period of rebuilding.