The Washington Nationals entered the final weekend before the All-Star break with a 4.5 game lead in the National League East. While the heat stays on the Nats with the surprising New York Mets and the rest of the teams in the East, the first half has been all about the Nats.
The Nationals have had a remarkable run this season, and are proving to be one of the most shocking teams in all of baseball. Most baseball fans thought it was a fluke a couple weeks into the season, but the Nats have continued to roll over the league.
The success of the Nationals is further surprising considering the injuries that they were forced to deal with through the season. From Drew Storen to Jayson Werth and Michael Morse, they have persevered and have maintained control of the East more than halfway through the season.
While big names went down for the Nats, they responded by bringing a big name up.
The emergence of Bryce Harper has helped the Nats battle through injuries and stay atop the division. His presence on the field changes the game for the opposition. Everything that he brings to the table, speed, power, tenacity, is a dynamic part of Washington's firepower on offense. His cannon of an arm from the outfield certainly helps as well.
As the first half winds down and the second half begins, many will wonder if the Nationals will be able to continue to storm through the division. There will be challenges along the way, including Stephen Strasburg's innings limit and the drama and controversy that will come along with it.
At the end of the day however, if the Nationals can remain focused on the task at hand, then they will be rewarded with a division title in October.
Baseball is alive and well in D.C. Nationals Park might prove to be one of the most electric parks in all of baseball if the Nats continue their success and make the playoffs.