Caption: NL East Teams
by Ryan Harless
Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interests but he is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.
February 25, 2023
Welcome to part three of six of my series predicting the breakout stars for each and every Major League Baseball (MLB) team for 2023. In this series, I have already discussed the Central Divisions for both leagues which brings us to today’s topic, the National League East.
Finishing in last place in 2022 were the Washington Nationals. This team won the World Series just three seasons ago, well not this exact team as the roster has almost entirely turned over. However, this team has a pretty high ceiling with all of the young talent they obtained through trading their top stars.
My pick for their breakout star is MacKenzie Gore. Gore was the third player picked in the 2017 MLB Draft and was one of the major pieces in the trade sending Juan Soto to the Padres. Although his career is six years old to this point, Gore is only 23 at the time of writing as he was drafted right out of high school.
Gore has only thrown 70 innings at the Major League level and while he struggled with an ERA of 4.50, he punched out 72 batters. Through 250.1 innings in the minors, Gore notched 320 strikeouts while maintaining a stellar 2.91 ERA.
I predict that this season Gore will start to reach his potential and look for him to throw 150 innings with 200 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA. MacKenzie should be a viable option for the ace of this Nationals’ staff.
The fourth-place finishers in the NL East last year were the Miami Marlins. This is another young team with a lot of potential over the next few years. There are a few different potential candidates for their breakout star.
Take, for instance, the cover of next year’s MLB The Show videogame Jazz Chisholm Jr., or even the returning Sixto Sanchez, but I think the player who will steal the spotlight is going to be Edward Cabrera.
MLB The Show fans already know what I am talking about with Cabrera as he has terrorized players for the past two years with his pitch variety and velocity.
In real life, Cabrera has a sinker that sits around 96-98 with lots of arm side movement as well as his 12-6 curveball that keeps hitters guessing. If everything goes right with players getting healthy, the Marlins could have Sandy Alcantara, Edward Cabrera, and Sixto Sanchez as the top three of their starting rotation.
I look for Cabrera to go 14-6 with an ERA under 3.00 and throwing at least 150 innings.
The next in the standings in the NL East last season were the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies really don’t have a lot of super intriguing young players on their team this season after their World Series visit. I’m looking for a relative newcomer to be their breakout star.
I think that Brandon Marsh will have a great season where he can finally shine. Marsh has spent his last two seasons sharing the outfield with stars like Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Now he gets the chance to shine in an outfield with Nicholas Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber.
I think if he is able to get his feet under him and play a lot of games again this year, he can become a very well-rounded outfielder. He is great defensively with his .990 fielding percentage, and will only improve with age.
I look for Marsh to bat .270 with 130+ hits as well as being one of the top defensive outfielders in the National League. His defensive play will really stand out being in an outfield with Castellanos and Schwarber who are both below average fielders.
Finishing second in the NL East last year were the New York Mets. The Mets spent a lot of money this offseason trying to make their way back to a World Series berth spending $500 million on free agents.
One of the Mets’ big acquisitions was star Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga, who I think will be a breakout star for the Mets. Over his 11 seasons in professional baseball, Senga has a staggering 2.42 ERA and a record of 104-51 with 1340.2 innings pitched. He has averaged almost 122 innings pitched during his time with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.
Japanese pitchers often struggle when they come to the MLB due to the change in the size and feel of the ball being different than it is in Japan, but I expect Senga to make an impact from the start.
I anticipate that Senga will throw 100 innings with an ERA around 2.75 and 125+ punch-outs in his first season in the MLB. I look for him to put up even better numbers than Masahiro Tanaka even though Senga is about five years older than Tanaka was when he entered the league.
Finally, this brings us to the 2022 NL East champions, the Atlanta Braves. I wouldn’t really say that this player will breakout this year as he won the ‘2022 Rookie of The Year award.’ But I still look for Michael Harris to continue his exciting play and keep improving on his already impressive numbers.
Last year, Harris slashed .297/.339/.514 with 19 homers and 123 total hits. Harris only played in 114 games so averaging more than a hit a game as a rookie in the very competitive NL East, is a feat in and of itself.
I look for more of the same from Harris in 2023. If he can get his strikeouts down and walks up, I’m predicting a .300/.400/.500 slash line from him. That, along with 25 homers and easily 20+ stolen bases, and with a little bit of good fortune, I think he can put up 30/30 years for many seasons to come.
Next time, I’ll be talking about the ever chippy AL East so be sure to check back in a few days for that!