In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to (and in some cases the aftermath of) the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. This is the Nationals entry.
Last season, the Nationals were the trendy pick to win the World Series. This year, they are not.
Which probably means they’ll go and win the NL because baseball history is full of teams going on to win after everyone else has moved on to a new pick. The best Cardinals team of this century (2004) didn’t win the World Series, but two years later (2006) a 83-76 team won it, for example. Plenty of people probably picked the Cardinals in 2004. I doubt as many picked them in 2006, at least once the playoffs started and they only had a 83-win season.
So… why not the the Nationals? They still have Bryce Harper, they still have Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Jonathan Papelbon is…well…. Jonathan Papelbon, for better and for worse. Maybe Daniel Murphy will be even half as good as he was in the postseason last year. Are they as good on paper as some previous Nationals teams? No. But, well, these games aren’t played on paper.
So… why not the Nationals?