The Atlanta Braves won the National League East division fair and square, beating the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Mets, the Miami Marlins, and the Washington Nationals, in that order, to take the crown.
It wasn’t easy, and it required a lot of effort from the players and a bit of a shopping spree near the trade deadline.
Seeing how they couldn’t have outfielders Ronald Acuna Jr. (torn ACL) and Marcell Ozuna (on administrative leave and under investigation for a domestic violence incident), Atlanta brought in Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, and Jorge Soler at the deadline.
All four were good and helped get the team over the top.
Of course, an epic second half by Max Fried (1.74 ERA), a good, consistent season by ace Charlie Morton, the Austin Riley breakout and another MVP-like performance by Freddie Freeman, among other things, contributed to the NL East championship.
But without the Mets’ collapse, we may be talking about another NL East champion.
An Epic Fall
The Mets dominated the East for the first three months of the season.
But they held steady for several months.
Their best pitcher, Jacob deGrom, had already survived a lot of injury scares, but after an outing against the Milwaukee Brewers on July 7, in which he covered seven frames, he reported tightness in his right forearm.
The issue started escalating and, after lots of rumors and speculation, he never really got the ball back and wouldn’t pitch again in 2021.
After the season, Mets president Sandy Alderson revealed deGrom suffered a partially torn UCL ligament that “resolved itself”.
Another crucial injury occurred on July 16, when starting shortstop and franchise player Francisco Lindor strained his oblique.
By the time he returned, the Mets had relinquished their NL East lead.
So when the Braves lose their best player they make the World Series but when the Mets do they fall into a disgusting collapse for 4 months
— Pat (@patrickochang) October 24, 2021
To be precise, the Mets lost the division lead to the Phillies on August 6, and would never get it back.
Atlanta Swopped In
The Braves were still lurking, ready to move their way up.
Those two long absences ended up costing the Mets, but they also failed to address important needs, pitching (to be specific) at the deadline, only bringing in 41-year-old starter Rich Hill when there weren’t any assurances that deGrom and Noah Syndergaard would make it back this season.
Manager Luis Rojas, heavily criticized during and after the season, couldn’t get the desired results and ended up losing job after the campaign ended.
On July 2, the 42-36 Mets held a three-game lead over the Nationals in the NL East.
The day after the trade deadline, they were still at the top spot with a 56-48 record and a healthy five-game lead over the Phillies.
The collapse started in August, and it was epic and hard to watch.
In the end, the Braves were more consistent than the Phillies, the only team that could rival Atlanta in the final week of the season, and took the division crown.
Therefore, an ugly Mets collapse paved the way for Atlanta to win a ticket to the postseason.
The worst division winner in baseball is now playing in the World Series.
Actually, the “worst division winner” in the league has an ongoing contention window and process that started years ago.
The 88-win Braves, winners of the worst division in MLB approach is lazy.
The #Braves were one of the best teams in baseball after the ASB and have a 4-year resume to show they were a great team struggling to find their identity after losing three major pieces early on. (1/2)
— Wayne Cavadi (@UofDWayne) October 24, 2021
It’s funny how baseball works out sometimes.