Ranking the top 25 players in the National League East for 2023
10. Max Scherzer, New York Mets
Scherzer's arrival changed the attitude of the Mets franchise from one that hopes to be special to one that is expected to be elite. Mad Max posted a career-best 2.29 ERA and was tremendous during the regular season, but it included two stints on the injured list, in which the Mets played their worst baseball of the season. His inaugural Mets campaign ended on a whimper with a disastrous Wild Card start, allowing four home runs and didn't get out of the fifth inning. But great as he was last year when healthy, it is not guaranteed he gets an Opening Day start, thanks to Steve Cohen's deep pockets.
9. Edwin Diaz, New York Mets
Edwin Diaz is the best reliever in baseball, and was the only reliever in the division that was considered for this list. Timmy Trumpet's noise at Citi Field usually meant game over for the opponents, and he overwhelmed his opposition in the process, striking out more than half of the batters he faced, and had a 1.31 ERA. As a result of his dominance, the Mets went a full year without losing a game when leading after eight innings this year (89-0) for the first time in team history. Diaz's dominance allowed Buck Showalter to shorten his games.
8. Justin Verlander, New York Mets
Verlander was the best pitcher in baseball in 2022, going 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA and a 0.829 WHIP, the latter two were the best in the majors, and picked up his third American League Cy Young award in the process. Now, he joins his former Detroit Tigers teammate and fellow future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer in Flushing to form as good a one-two punch in a starting rotation as there is.
7. Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves
Riley has been the Braves' best hitter in each of the past two seasons, and figures to be the same this year. He had at least 30 home runs, 30 doubles, 90 RBI's, 90 runs scored, a .500 slugging percentage, a 135 OPS+, and a top-7 MVP finish in both 2021 and 2022. A repeat performance in 2023 will go a long way in aiding the Braves' chances to win the division for the sixth straight time.
6. J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies
Lost in the shuffle in the Phillies' run to the World Series last year was Realmuto proving why he gets paid $23 million per season as a catcher. Realmuto is coming off the best season of his career, he won a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, finished seventh in the NL MVP voting, boasted a career-high OPS+ of 129, and led the majors in caught stealing rate of 44 percent. He remains the best catcher in baseball entering his age-32 season.