Last season, the Nationals finished with a record of 95-67, which was good enough for the NL East Division title and the two seed in the National League for the postseason. However, they took yet another early October exit, losing to the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLDS. Injuries hurt the roster late in the year, but the loss was still heart-breaking for the growing fan base.
On the bright side, it is more than likely that the Nats will have another shot in the playoffs this year. The NL East is not a tough division. The Phillies, Marlins, and Braves are all in rebuilding mode, so they won’t challenge the Nats. The Mets are a solid ball club, but their roster remained the same as last year, when the Nats were able to beat them out by eight games. Additionally, the Nats roster became even more stacked during the offseason, so the gap between them and the Mets should just grow this year.
During the offseason, the Nats best acquisition was when they traded for 28-year old center fielder Adam Eaton. Eaton gives them a phenomenal fielder to captain the outfield, and also the team a possible spark for the offense. Eaton is able to get on base a lot. Last season with the White Sox, his on-base percentage was a top-notch .362, and he also hit .284 with a career high 14 home runs. The Nats also picked up catcher Matt Wieters and first basemen Adam Lind, who could give the team around 20 home runs. These are both solid moves to improve the power on the squad. Lastly, the Nats grabbed Joe Blanton to be their closer. This isn’t exactly ideal, but it’s better than whatever they had, considering he did have a surprisingly good 2.48 ERA and a record of 7-2 working with the Dodgers.
The Nats were also able to maintain the majority of their best assets. They lost beloved catcher Wilson Ramos, but he was banged up and they snatched up Wieters, so it really won’t hurt them much. Their star-studded pitching staff has stayed completely the same. It is led by Max Scherzer, who won the NL Cy Young, and Stephen Strasburg, who look liked he was going to win the award before he got hurt. Obviously, they still have superstar Bryce Harper as well. Even though he had a down year, he still has the talent to put up MVP-caliber numbers. Trea Turner, who hit .342 in 73 games last season, will be back at the top of the Nats fire-powered offense. The explosive offense will also include several steady bats like Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy, who played out of his mind last season and ended up second in NL MVP voting because of it. Clearly, the busy offseason by the Nats front office has just completely loaded their roster.
With this amazing roster, the Nats will be able to compete with any team in the MLB, even the likes of the Red Sox or Cubs. They should cruise to the playoffs, and may finally be able to break through to the NLCS. A World Series ring is definitely in Dusty Baker’s sights heading into this season, and he could very possibly get one.