Both of the remaining NL teams have already been represented in the post-2011 NL Central All Star team, but I wouldn't dare ignore all of those
losers other teams. Today we'll get through the NL East, and I'll make sure to get through the others soon. I swear we'll be done by January. I just gotta go through those darn offseason positional previews.
Catcher: Brian McCann, Atlanta (3.7 fWAR)
Still the best given his prowess as abilities as a hitter, but he may get some surprising competition soon from the likes of Nationals backstop Wilson Ramos. Another solid year from Carlos Ruiz in 2011, too.
First Base: Gaby Sanchez, Florida (3.0 fWAR)
You weren't expecting Ryan Howard, were you? Mike Morse would actually go here if I didn't desperately need him in another spot (you'll see below), so we'll go with Sanchez, who played nearly as well as Morse this season. Sanchez didn't hit like Morse in 2011, but he hit enough and he's an above-average defender, so his 3.0 WAR figure isn't too far off from Morse's.
Second Base: Chase Utley, Philadelphia (3.9 fWAR)
Utley is going to have to give up his title as the division's best second baseman one day, but it didn't happen this season even while the 32-year-old played just 103 games. Still a plus-plus defender and a very good hitter, Utley's one of the game's elite players when he's healthy, although he's missed significant time in consecutive seasons.
Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington (2.5 fWAR)
It was a bad year for third basemen here. Placido Polanco leads in WAR, but that's based on a +14 UZR and I'm not sure I buy that his defense is that good. I'd rather take Zimmerman, a significantly better hitter that posted an uncharacteristically poor UZR this season. A decline in defense is likely partially the result of his injuries, but I'd still rather have Zimmerman. You're talking about 0.3 WAR, based all in a difference in UZR... yeah, I'll take Zim.
Shortstop: Jose Reyes, New York (6.2 fWAR)
Finally, a player above 4 WAR, right? Reyes may have missed 36 games this season, but he was positively fantastic when he managed to get on the field. He won the NL batting title, even if he did so in a pretty peculiar manner, and led the league in triples, re-establishing himself as one of the game's most electric players.
Left Field: Mike Morse, Washington (3.3 fWAR)
Left fielders were flat-out bad in the NL East this season. Morse is easily the best of the bunch if you slot him in here, which I'm going to do. He posted awful UZR numbers at both positions (-13.0 UZR), but his offense was top of the line with a .303/.360/.550 line and 31 homers. Honestly, my next-best option here would be John Mayberry Jr.
Center Field: Shane Victorino, Phillies (5.9 fWAR)
Probably one of the most underrated players in the game, but he was the best position player on the regular season's best team in 2011. A plus defender in center, an elite base-runner and a very good hitter with power and patience, Victorino is an elite player and one of the main cogs of the Philly baseball machine.
Right Field: Mike Stanton, Florida (4.5 fWAR)
Hunter Pence has been great in Philly, but he's only got 0.2 WAR more than Stanton in 2011, so we'll go with the Marlins slugger that spent all year in the division. Considered one of the great young prospects in the game, we should probably alter that and move on to considering him one of the great players in the game in general. With arguably the most power of any hitter in the game, a willingness to walk and plus defense in right field, he was already fantastic this year.
No. 1: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia (8.2 fWAR)
No. 2: Cliff Lee, Philadelphia (6.7 fWAR)
No. 3: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia (4.9 fWAR)
No. 4: Anibal Sanchez, Florida (3.8 fWAR)
No. 5: Tim Hudson, Atlanta (3.7 fWAR)
So, you can kind of see why the Phillies ran away with the division. They had the top-three pitchers in the entire division, and it's not even really that close. Guys with upside like Tommy Hanson and Josh Johnson didn't pitch enough to keep up, so we're left sifting through what's left. Sanchez and Hudson were quite good in 2011, but that Philly trio is just making everyone else look bad right now. Everyone except the St. Louis Cardinals, that is. (See what I did there?)
Reliever: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta (3.3 fWAR)
Reliever: Ryan Madson, Philadelphia (1.7 fWAR)
Reliever: Jonny Venters, Atlanta (1.7 fWAR)
The disappointing finishes from Kimbrel and Venters have been well-documented, but each of them still finished the season with positively sparkling numbers. Kimbrel was 2011's best relief pitcher, and both Madson and Venters are among the best of the next tier. Honorable mention goes to Eric O'Flaherty, of course, but I'll take Madson.