The wait is finally over, Opening Day is less than 24 hours away! As possibly the most competitive division in the MLB, the NL East has plenty of players you should keep your eyes on, here is one player from each team that I think you’ll want to watch in 2021.
Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper
Even after what most non-Phillies fans or Bryce Harper haters would call a bust year for Harper in 2020, he has still been sneakily one of the best players in baseball. Philadelphia will hopefully stay close in the race for the NL East crown or a Wild Card position which could finally bring Phillie’s fans something to cheer about considering their recent history in the division. While in theory, Harper may be the best player on the team he is often overshadowed by the Phillies catcher, J.T. Realmuto, who is arguably the best in the game at his position whereas Harper is one of many talented right fielders in the National League. Harper is usually good for around 30 home runs a year and he should definitely provide a great spark in this Phillies lineup with his power-hitting abilities.
Miami Marlins: Jazz Chisholm
Chisholm made his debut last season, appearing in 21 games at second base and shortstop. Chisholm’s numbers were nothing crazy and he did strike out quite a bit (19 times in 56 AB). The Marlins quite literally have nothing to play for this season and it may be that way for a while, but developing young players and trading them down the line is a specialty in Miami so Chisholm might possibly be the next candidate to get shipped out just like Christian Yellich and J.T. Realmuto were.
New York Mets: Michael Conforto
After Francisco Lindor signs his extension, Michael Conforto should be the Mets’ next priority. After signing a one-year deal this past offseason, Conforto is set to hit the open market this upcoming offseason, which is certainly something no fan wants. Conforto has been an under-the-radar player for the Mets over the last few seasons, showing his ability to hit and play solid defense in right. With 27+ HRs and a 1.000% fielding percentage over the last three seasons, Conforto is due for big money.
Atlanta Braves: Mike Soroka
Yes- there are plenty of big bats in this lineup that will surely be plenty of fun to watch. However, Soroka is coming off of a major injury that took away what could have been a short but impressive sophomore season. Soroka finished the 2019 season with a 13-4 record in 29 starts to go along with an ERA of 2.68 (5th best in the league). Soroka is not quite ready for full games as he is only 6 months removed from a torn right Achilles, but once he is back it will be interesting to see what we get from the young righty.
Washington Nationals: Trea Turner
Quietly, Turner was one of the best players in baseball last season. His .335 average, 12 HRs, and 41 RBIs would have all led to career highs (considering he kept pace). Turner is a true five-tool player that can dominate at the plate, on the bases, and all over the field defensively. The Nationals may be a very underrated team in the NL East knowing how strong the division is, but they will certainly be making a push for a playoff spot with their stacked pitching rotation and lineup headlined by Juan Soto.