Surprise: Washington Nationals
In what many thought would be a jumbled National League East, the Washington Nationals were the clear favorite. Their 78.8% playoff odds at the start of 2019 was way ahead the next-closest team, the Philadelphia Phillies (48.4%). But then, manager Dave Martinez watched his club fumble their way to a 19-31 record by the end of May.
That’s when they turned it on, though. Washington proceeded to play like one of baseball’s best from that point to the end of the year, cementing themselves into some pretty cool history in the process. This recovery wasn’t enough to overtake the Atlanta Braves for the division title, but Washington at least has a shot at advancing in the postseason — something that’s been difficult for them.
The three-headed monster that is Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin will be intimidating for any playoff opponent, and the offense will be bolstered by phenom Juan Soto and NL MVP candidate, Anthony Rendon. Soto and Rendon both lead the position players in fWAR (4.3 and 7.0, respectively), and they each managed to hit 30-plus homers while driving in 100-plus runs and scoring another 100-plus themselves.