4. Washington Nationals: This was the most difficult decision for us, when picking these divisions. As much as we like the Nationals offseason moves (SP's Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson, and RP Brad Lidge were all brought in.), we still think this is a team that is just a year away from making a run in the NL East. They obviously boast one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball (led by ace Stephen Strasburg), and they have a pretty good up and coming bullpen. They should be fine offensively as long as 3B Ryan Zimmerman stays on the field and RF Jayson Werth can bat for an average higher than his weight. This team could/should be in it for a majority of the year, but their youthfulness will keep them out of the postseason just one more year.
3. Atlanta Braves: This team has a very talented roster returning in 2012. They have a nice mix of veteran and young players all around in this lineup. They have one of the best bullpens in baseball (Anchored by Eric O'Flaherty, Johnny Venters, and Craig Kimbrel at the back end) to compliment a good starting staff (Led by top starters Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrjens). This team should have no problem putting up runs with a lineup featuring Michael Bourn, Jason Heyward, a healthy Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla, and Brian McCann. But why pick the Braves at 3? They had a epic collapse in 2011, and with the same roster returning, I see no reason why this team will be outside looking in on October once more.
2. Miami Marlins: No one made more headlines this offseason than the (formerly Florida Marlins) Miami Marlins. They were throwing money around (They Reportedly had offers to SP CJ Wilson and 1B Albert Pujols before being turned down) like no other (They have a new ballpark driving this free spending now). They did land SS Jose Reyes, RP Heath Bell, and SP Mark Buehrle with all the free spending. And don't forget they have a new manager, Ozzie Guillen. Throw in existing stars Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, and Mike Stanton, and this should be one good ballclub. They won't be good enough to dethrone the Phillies as East champs, but they should have no problem finding one of the two Wild Card spots.
1. Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies are set to begin the season without mainstays Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But lucky for them they have the best pitching staff in baseball and a lineup full of talented hitters after Utley and Howard. If that weren't the case, we would be picking this team lower in the division. They have three aces on this club (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels). They have a lineup featuring 6 all stars, if you include Utley and Howard. And they now have some stability at the back end of their bullpen with the addition of Jonathon Papelbon. This will be the most contested division title for the Phils since their first one back in 2007. And they squeak it out despite having to hold off the Marlins, Braves, and Nationals. Then look for them to go one and done in the postseason...again.