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5 NL East studs who could soon be All-Stars

@zachsilver
March 27, 2020

Currently housed in the National League East are eight total Cy Young Awards, a pair of Most Valuable Player Award winners, four Rookie of the Year Award winners and countless All-Stars. But the division's resume does not truly reflect the star-studded nature of the squads up and down the East

Currently housed in the National League East are eight total Cy Young Awards, a pair of Most Valuable Player Award winners, four Rookie of the Year Award winners and countless All-Stars.

But the division's resume does not truly reflect the star-studded nature of the squads up and down the East Coast. Some of the game’s emerging young stars are housed in the division, and a few are still awaiting their first nod to the All-Star Game. One candidate for each team has been compiled by MLB.com.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, every member of this list falls below the age of 27, with many hoping their best years are just around the corner -- potentially as soon as 2020.

Without further ado, here’s each team’s likeliest candidate to next break the All-Star threshold:

Braves: Dansby Swanson
Dansby Swanson was a candidate for the Midsummer Classic in 2019, compiling a strong first half of the season that saw him enter the break with 17 home runs and an .822 OPS through 89 games. Unfortunately, Swanson landed on the injured list later in the season due to a right foot injury and struggled at the plate in the second half, hitting .194 with a .552 OPS in his final 27 games after returning. But when healthy, like during last year’s NL Division Series, the former No. 1 overall Draft pick has shown tremendous potential. Per Statcast, the Braves' shortstop hit 0.20 points lower than his Expected Batting Average (.271), and he slugged 0.58 points lower than his Expected Slugging Percentage (.480). If he continues to grow as a hitter and avoid the injury bug, the 26-year-old shortstop could soon add an All-Star selection to his resume.

Mets: Amed Rosario
Because Amed Rosario has already spent two and a half years in the big leagues, it's easy to forget that he's still just 24 years old. Don’t let that fool you. Rosario put everything together in the second half last season, batting .319 with six homers, nine steals and an .804 OPS. Perhaps the most important takeaway in the Mets’ eyes is that he enjoyed dramatic defensive improvements as the season went on, committing just one of his 17 errors in September. New York believes what it saw from Rosario in the second half is sustainable, and if he can be that type of player over a full season, then there’s little doubt an All-Star appearance is in his future.

Marlins: Brian Anderson
The emergence of Brian Anderson has been a gradual process. The 26-year-old made his big league debut as a September callup in 2017, and he has been a regular in the Marlins' lineup since then. Anderson was tracking towards 25 home runs last year, before being struck by a pitch in late August that fractured a bone in his left hand. Prior to the injury on Aug. 23, Anderson was in the midst of a torrid second half. After the All-Star break, he was slashing .284/.355/.568 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs in 39 games. Having split time between third base and right field over the past two seasons, the Marlins are aiming to keep him exclusively at the hot corner. He also has a better lineup around him, and the Marlins Park fences have been moved in, which should help improve his statistics.

Nationals: Juan Soto
It's a matter of time before Juan Soto is an All-Star. In only his second Major League season, the 21-year-old phenom slashed .282/.401/.548 with 34 home runs. Those numbers helped place Soto among the leaders in many NL offensive categories, ranking sixth in OPS (.949), seventh in runs (110) and ninth in RBIs (110). Then, he turned heads in the Nationals’ World Series run with five postseason home runs, three of which came in the World Series. Based on Weighted Runs Created Plus, just seven players in baseball history -- Mike Trout, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb, Mel Ott and Mickey Mantle -- have hit better than Soto through age 21.

Phillies: Scott Kingery
The Phillies signed Scott Kingery to a six-year, $24 million contract before he played his first game in the big leagues because they believed they had a star on their hands. After moving him around the infield and outfield his first two seasons, the Phils are committed to keeping him at second base in 2020. It is his best position, which could help him flourish offensively. Kingery said he wore down in the second half of the 2019 season because he was working so hard defensively, but now that he knows where his defensive home will be, his offense stands to improve. If it helps his hitting, it's easy to see Kingery making his first All-Star team in the near future.

Zachary Silver is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Baltimore/Washington. Follow him on Twitter @zachsilver.