Future bright for Nationals


There’s a new kind of excitement sur­rounding the start of the Washington Nation­als’ grapefruit season this year. For once, it’s not the excitement of a new prospect, a great trade, or a “chance” to win. It’s the excitement of being a true contender. Coming off an MLB best record of 98-64, the Nationals are fa­vorites to win the World Series this year. They have the experience, the pitching, and the manager to do so. There are no limits for this 2013 Nationals team, and the players know it.

Bryce Harper has stated that the only thing he’s thought about this offseason was win­ning a World Series, and he’s not the only one. After the crushing loss against the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS that everyone would like to forget, it’s hard not to crave a champi­onship even more than they did before. For once, the months April – August aren’t wait­ing for football season. They’re baseball sea­son.

With arguably the best pitching rotation in the majors, the Nationals have both sides of the ball covered. Stephen Strasburg, the ace, is healthy and ready to pitch a full season. With drug enhancement accusations fading quickly without consequence and coming off a Cy Young finalist, 21-win season, Gio Gon­zalez is ready to prove himself not just a one-year fluke. Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler are home grown pitchers, ready to prove that they can step up to the plate and be consistent. The newest addition to the rota­tion, Dan Haren, will bring an experience to the rotation, a piece that’s been missing. Kurt Suzuki and Wilson Ramos will be the back­stops this year, bringing an unusual consis­tency behind the plate to the Nats.

On the offensive side of the ball, new ad­dition Denard Span will give the Nationals a steady leadoff hitter and a great centerfielder. Infielders Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa hope to be catalysts to the offense as well as league lead­ers in defense yet again. Reigning Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper hopes to build off his break out year all the way to a championship, with right fielder Jayson Werth helping him in the outfield as well as at the plate.

There aren’t many weak links for this team this year, leading experts to believe that the Nationals are prime contenders. If you’re new to baseball, I suggest keeping your eyes on this Nationals team, as they’re not something you’re going to want to miss out on.

(This article originally appeared in the February 28, 2013 print edition.)