98-64, 1st in the NL East
Lost in the NLDS to the Cardinals
The Washington Nationals were my team to watch in 2012. I said on The Guy Show in March that they would win the East and go to the World Series. While the second part of the prediction didn’t come through, it was way closer than what most people thought. The Nationals were baseball’s best regular season team and came within an out of the NLCS.
The offense doesn’t jump off the page, but they played well together. Ian Desmond (5.4), Bryce Harper (4.9), and Ryan Zimmerman (4.5) all had great years. Danny Espinosa (3.8) and Adam LaRoche (3.8) were also very good.
The starting pitching was extraordinary as well. Gio Gonzalez (5.4), Stephen Strasburg (4.3), Jordan Zimmermann (3.5), Edwin Jackson (2.7), and Ross Detwiler (1.8) made all but 11 of the teams 162 starts. They also got a lot of great innings out of their bullpen.
The Nationals were in command of Game 5 of the NLCS until they weren’t in the final innings and lost to a little of that Cardinals magic.
But two big stories dominated the Nationals season. First, the Nationals are contenders now. They played well and didn’t go away. Most people will agree that they’re the favorites in the National League again in 2013.
The other story was the Strasburg shutdown, which was a huge controversy all season. I’m on board with the shutdown, but a lot of people thought it cost them. (Look for a post on this next week!)
As the offseason has gone on, the Nats have added Denard Span and Dan Haren, so they should be set to contend again in 2013, but it’s hard not to look back at 2012 and enjoy it. The Nationals brought winning baseball back to DC for the first time in decades, and there’s no sign of slowing down.
2012 Grade: A
Early 2013 Projection: 94-68