Where the Mets rank in the NL East entering 2022

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves
New York Mets v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

1. Atlanta Braves

It should come as no surprise that the Atlanta Braves come in as the top team in the NL East. While the loss of Freddie Freeman in free agency does slightly close the gap between them and the Mets, they still have the edge due to their talent, youth, and championship pedigree. The team gets Ronald Acuna Jr. back from a torn ACL that caused him to miss the second half of the season and the whole postseason, and added Matt Olson to replace Freeman at first base. Those two bats join a lineup that already features: Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall. Their young core makes for a lineup that is likely only second to the Los Angeles Dodgers, even after the loss of Freeman.

The team has a strong starting rotation as well, as they have two budding stars in Max Fried and Ian Anderson, as well as a trusted veteran in Charlie Morton. Add to that the return of Mike Soroka, who was on his way to becoming the ace of the staff, before tearing his Achilles, and missing almost two full seasons. If Soroka can return to form, their top four can be dominant, and then add in talented young right-hander Huascar Ynoa, and the rotation adds even more upside.

The Braves even focused on strengthening their bullpen this season by adding Kenley Jansen and Collin McHugh to the group. The two join an already above-average group that featured: Will Smith, Tyler Matzek, AJ Minter, and Luke Jackson. The two free-agent additions give the team six trusted arms, with three right-handers, and three left-handers. Jansen and Smith both have plenty of ninth-inning experience, and McHugh's time as a starter allows him to serve him as a long-reliever if necessary. Add to that the big-game experience that each pitcher has, and it's easy to see why this unit is so highly regarded.

While the Mets and Phillies have made some key additions this offseason, and should be making noise in October, the Braves remain the cream of the crop in one of the league's best divisions, while everyone else is still chasing after them. It would be no surprise if any of these three teams made a deep playoff run and possibly represented the National League in the NLCS or the World Series. Meanwhile, the Marlins and Nationals, may not be the same caliber of team, but each has some young and exciting players, and it would be no surprise if either team's young cores helps lead them back to the playoffs sooner rather than later.

Next. 3 reasons to be excited about the 2022 Mets . dark