|The NL East's five teams are all separated by just five games. (Getty Images)|
First off, thanks to Dayn Perry for pinch hitting for me last week. I was in ... well, let's just say it was a place where gambling is encouraged. Speaking of which ...
If you had to wager a substantial amount of money on a team to win the NL East right now, who would you take? In a season full of parity and with an added wild-card team, this division seems like the best bet to include all five teams in the race deep into the season. As things currently stand, I don't think any one of the five winning the division would be shocking.
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The Nationals sport one of the most exciting, young franchises in baseball, led by a pair of uber-hyped No. 1 picks who appeared destined for superstardom. And the Nats can actually get better with Michael Morse's recent return, Drew Storen's eventual return and Ryan Zimmerman remembering how to hit.
The Marlins couldn't possibly be more intriguing. They're the classic "train-wreck" team, where you can't look away even if you want to. Of course, they're also chock full of talent and could very well be the most talented team in this division. It could be argued they haven't played nearly as well as they can.
The Mets entered the season as a punchline for many, but who is laughing now? Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey are pitching like a pair of aces, David Wright is playing MVP-caliber baseball and good contributions are coming from guys everywhere on the roster. What if Ike Davis starts to hit like he can and the Mets acquire some bullpen help?
The Braves are capable of pitching better overall, though they've had a few gems lately. They have a few hitters with potential to hit better, too. And yet here they are.
And that, of course, leaves us with the five-time defending NL East champion Phillies. They're in last right now. But they're also only five games out. What if they're still within striking distance and get what will feel like trade deadline acquisitions in the form of returning-from-injury Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay?
So who ya got? Whoever it is, this race is going to be exciting and will go down to the wire.
Rankings, comments and stats are through Tuesday, June 5. Feel free to contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org