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Braves, Dodgers or Phillies? Who is the Top Team in the National League

Spring Training is wrapping up, rosters are getting finalized and Opening Day is just around the corner.  Recently, David Conde speculated on whether the Braves has the best lineup and rotation in the National League.  It would be hard to deny that the Braves are poised for another outstanding season.  However, there’s no question that there are a few other NL powerhouses that stand in their way.

The Los Angeles Dodgers stole the headines this off-season with the signing of Shohei Ohtani.  Shohei stays local, but switching from Angels red to Dodger blue, puts an even larger spotlight on a team that’s dominated the NL West for the last decade.  Ohtani joins superstars Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman to create what could be the most dangerous trio in MLB.  They’ve added exciting arms with Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Tyler Glasnow.  But, wait!

While the Dodgers and Braves have enjoyed tremendous regular season success over the past two years, it’s the Philadelphia Phillies who have demonstrated postseason heroics.  The Phillies lineup is also nothing to squawk at.  Bryce Harper and Trea Turner are both among the biggest stars in the game; along with a batting order that doesn’t seem to end.  They also have a fantastic one-two punch in their starting rotation with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

Big Questions

While it’s undeniable that each team is loaded with talent, there’s a number of important questions heading into 2024. The answers to each will likely determine who has the edge in the National League.

Player Performance

  • Can Ronald Acuna Jr. replicate his record setting 2023 season?  Acuna became the first ever 40/70 player and arguably had one of the greatest single seasons in MLB history.  A similar type of season would greatly advantage the Braves chances of winning the NL Central.
  • How big of a season will Shohei Ohtani have with the Dodgers?  And will he stay out of trouble? Let’s hope for the sake of baseball that Shohei isn’t wrapped up in this gambling issue and he can focus on the game.  It is hard to imagine that the Dodgers became an even more competitive team in the off-season.
  • What does a healthy Bryce Harper produce in 2024?  Injuries have set back the regular season performance of Harper in the past couple years.  However, he certainly dazzled us all in the postseason.  It will be fun to see what he can do if he stays off the IL the entire season.  Personally, I think he’s the most exciting player in MLB when he’s at his best.
  • Who’s the favorite in the NL Home Run race?  Matt Olson or Shohei Ohtani?  Olson hit 54 in 2024 playing in 162 games.  Shohei hit 44 in 135 games.  Throw Pete Alonso into the mix and the NL homerun race could be reminiscent of 1998.
  • Will Spencer Strider join the 300 Ks club?  See David Conde’s recent post.

Where Will They Finish?

  • Can the Phillies overtake the Braves to win the NL East?  Or can the Braves actually beat the Phillies in the Postseason?  While the Braves have won six consecutive NL East titles, the Phillies have eliminated them in the postseason for two straight years.
  • Will the Dodgers or Braves have a postseason run?  Yes, I know the Dodgers won the World Series in the shortened 2020 season.  And the Braves won it in 2021.  Yet, these teams have both has spectacular regular seasons two years running with nothing to show for it.  Does 2024 have a Dodgers vs Braves NLCS in store for us?
  • What if none of these teams win the National League?  In 2023, the Arizona Diamondbacks took MLB by surprise and won the NL pennant.  Could they do it again?  What about the underperforming Padres?  The NL Central seems wide-open.  As for me, I’ll take the Braves or Phillies to win the NL East and the other as the top seeded Wild Card.  And I’ll take the Dodgers in the West with the DBacks right behind.  That leaves two more postseason teams.  Give me the Cubs or Reds as the NL Central winner and the other for the remaining Wild Card spot.

See my recent Orioles post for my take on the American League.  Happy baseball season everyone!

 

 

Brian is the Managing Editor at Legends on Deck and Co-Host on Legends On Deck Podcast. He's been writing about baseball at LOD since 2017. He grew up in the Detroit area and is a lifelong Tigers fan. However, he shares some affinity for his son George's favorite team, the Atlanta Braves. Brian also has a particular interest in the amateur side of the game, including high school, college and collegiate summer league baseball. Brian and George also love collecting and selling baseball cards. You can find them selling on eBay (@Kossball) or posting on George's Instagram (@Kossball). Brian lives in Horizon West (Winter Garden), Florida with his wife (Grace), three daughters and George the Card Kid. You can also reach him at brianmkoss@gmail.com

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