The Nats didn't beat the Marlins two out of three, but only because the third game was rained out. The Nats took another couple of great pitching performances and turned them into close wins behind whoever in this lousy offense happens to get a hit at the right time. The Nats are now 12-4 with a two game lead in the division and thoughts drift more and more away from "Can they make the playoffs?" to "Can they win the division?". Premature? Totally. But let's see why the other NL East teams aren't carrying their share for the early favorite for Best Division in Baseball 2012.
New York Mets - The Mets were always going to be the whipping boy in the East but they've been the one positive surprise out of the remaining 4 teams. Why aren't they 4-12? Because 75% of things have gone right. An offense that would be at best mediocre given a bunch of average hitters has done better than expected thanks to Thole, Tejada, and Nieuwhatever taking a step foward (so far). That may not last but if one of these guys is ok and if Davis and Duda (the bats they really like) rebound, and they get a bit more luck this lineup will still be fine. On the staff side Pelfrey, Gee, and Neise are all pitching well and Santana is healthy enough. That helps cover up a failing bullpen.
Can they keep the Nats from the division title? Not likely. They are roughly where they deserve right now (some good luck winning has balanced out some bad luck scoring runs) and this is arguably a best case scenario. So I sincerely doubt it.
Philadelphia Phillies - The pitching is still "great except Blanton" but what a hideous offense. That sums it up. The worst part for Phillies fans is that the only good bat seriously underperforming is Hunter Pence. Polanco was simply holding his own and now he might have went off that age cliff. Rollins last year was most likely a minor fluke and he'll be a hole in the lineup. Victorino and Ruiz are simply hitting like they should. Imagine how bad it would be if Wigginton and Pierre weren't overperforming?
Can they keep the Nats from the division title? With that group of starters it's possible, but they'll need Utley back ASAP and Pence to have a great year to have a shot. You can't count another career year from Victorino and everyone else is on the wrong side of 33. Right now it doesn't look good.
Miami Marlins - Even though the pitching staff has been solid without Josh Johnson returning to form yet, the Marlins offense has sputtered. The two guys that were supposed to carry it along with Hanely Ramirez, Reyes and Stanton, haven't gotten it going yet. Worse, Gaby Sanchez is crashing. However all these guys are young enough that they should bounce back.
Can they keep the Nats from the division title? It's possible. The pitching is good and the one guy who hasn't done well is their best pitcher who you expect to pitch much better. The hitting hasn't been good and Omar Infante can't keep this pace up (.325 with 4 homers) but two guys that haven't done well are 2 of their best 3 hitters who you expect to play much better. These aren't old guys or overachievers they are counting on like the Phillies. As long as they can hang around a few games back, I give them a shot.
Atlanta Braves - They actually haven't disappointed and are now in possession of the best lineup in the NL. There's some overperforming going on here. Heyward isn't this good. Bourn isn't going to hit near .340. But all in all it's a lineup that since Fredi realized he shouldn't jerk Heyward around, has only one weak spot. The pitching staff has had its ups and downs but Tim Hudson is close to returning and no one doubts the talent they have on hand.
Can they keep the Nats from the division title? Yes. If we ignore their tendency to play just well enough not to win titles and playoff spots, the combination of offensive and pitching talent is there. The offense may be a bit precarious. Most of the team is not great at getting on base if they are struggling to get hits so expect week long scoring slumps, but there's no weakness here and so far they've held the closest to the Nats. It's the games versus the Braves that I'd watch most closely.