Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff.. This week we're looking at the NL East.
Which team will win the NL East?
R.J. Anderson: It's a coin flip for me. If you go off of each team's run differential, the Braves have been the better team this season -- and by a fair margin (more than 30 runs as of this writing). I don't think it's that cut and dry, however, because the Mets are a different team with a healthy Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. The Mets also happen to have the division lead as I type this. Yeah, it's only a half-game, but there's something to be said about being the superior team to this point in the season. I'll go with the Braves in the end, just because I suspect everyone else will take the Mets.
Dayn Perry: I'll lean Mets -- in spite of Scherzer's trip to the IL -- because they have a significantly easier schedule the rest of the way. The Mets' remaining opponents have an average win percentage this season of .433, while the Braves' remaining opponents have an average win percentage of .485. As well, the Mets play a higher percentage of their remaining games at home than the Braves do.
Matt Snyder: I'm going with the Mets. I think it's hilarious that both teams could win 100 games and one would have to be a wild card after 88 wins took the division crown last season -- and then led to a World Series title. That doesn't have anything to do with who will win it this year, obviously, I'm just thinking out loud. I dig the Mets having such an easy schedule and seeing them wake up to dismantle the Pirates Wednesday after three straight bad losses helped a little. Mostly, though, I'm avoiding any analysis -- it's such a toss-up that I think substantive analysis won't really end up making a difference -- and instead just going on gut feel. Ever since the Braves started their winning streak on June 1, it has felt like the masses were simply waiting for the "when" the Braves passed instead of the "if." And they did tie it on Tuesday. Maybe they'll pass the Mets. But the Mets not choking in the face of this run gives me the feeling they'll ultimately find a way to prevail.
Mike Axisa: As Dayn and Matt noted, the Mets have a really easy schedule the rest of the way, and although they recently lost three straight to the Nationals and Pirates (each by at least six runs!), easy schedules tend to manifest in a larger sample. They have a full month to capitalize. The Braves are excellent and I think they'll be in the running right to the very end. Ultimately, I think the Mets enjoy too much of a schedule advantage to lose the division.