Whether the NL East is baseball's best division is debatable, but it is almost certainly the most watchable. The East overflows with stars, from Max Scherzer to his ex-teammate Bryce Harper to the reigning Cy Young Award winner, Jacob deGrom, and each of the four contending clubs possesses distinct strengths and looks, like the rival news teams in "Anchorman."
The Phillies have the most robust lineup, with sluggers Rhys Hoskins and Harper batting behind Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura. The Nationals should be masters of run prevention, behind a significantly upgraded defense and an already strong rotation that has been augmented through the addition of Patrick Corbin. The Mets' poster guys are deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, their generation's version of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, backed by the best closer in baseball, Edwin Diaz.
Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman are the headliners for the team that won the division last year, the Braves. But what might turn out to be difference-making for them, in the end, is more subtle than a Harper hack, Syndergaard's hair or Scherzer's slider. Atlanta has an enormous wave of young pitchers on the rise, and the Braves' ability to defend its NL East title might well come down to what this group of arms contributes this year.