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.
Max Scherzer gave up no hits for 7 1/3 innings, and although he ended up giving up a earned run and two hits (and three walks), he still struck out 10 and got the win, and also had two hits of his own. So, he’s the MVP of Yesterday.
In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Previous installments can be found here. Today: The Washington Nationals, my early favorite for World Series champion.
I think the Washington Nationals will win the World Series this season. And yet, I’m not 100% sure why I think this.
Maybe it’s the pitching. They have added Max Scherzer to an already excellent staff that includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister.
Maybe it’s because this might be the year that Bryce Harper returns to form after an off-year last season.
Maybe it’s because of Anthony Rendon.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because this will be the year where things click, where the odd breaks that have gone against them will go for them, where the bullpen won’t screw it up, and they finally go to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.
Or maybe not. Maybe it’s something else. I don’t know, but for some reason- and I’m not sure what- I think this is the Nationals’ year.
On May 21, our friend Michael Clair over at Old Time Family Baseball wrote an article over at Baseball Prospectus in which he did tongue-in-cheek scouting reports of ballplayers who did Playgirl shoots in the 1980s. While he didn’t provide a scouting report on him, among the players who Clair exposed (pun intended) was Steve McCatty, who is now the pitching coach for the Washington Nationals.
However, since that fateful day, the Nationals fortunes have fallen. They are a mere .500 since Michael Clair’s article went up*, have fallen another game back in the NL East standings, and would have fallen back even more if not for the fact that the Braves were almost as averagely mediocre as the Nationals were.