4 Bold Predictions for the Washington Nationals for Second Half of the Season
This year, the Nationals have pleasantly surprised a lot of people.
In the last few years, the Nationals have been building up for future success. They drafted Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmerman, Tyler Moore and many other players. They signed Jayson Werth and traded for Gio Gonzalez.
Now, the Nationals are serious World Series contenders.
Washington has a 49-34 record and a four-game lead in the NL East entering the All-Star break. Since there are now two wild-card teams and they only play one game to determine who moves on, Washington really wants to win the division.
They want to win the World Series. But is that too bold for the Nationals?
Why don't you find out.
Here are four bold predictions for the Nationals in the second half of the season.
Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche Will Hit More Than 30 Home Runs
Ian Desmond hi-fives Adam LaRoche after hitting a home run.
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Right now, shortstop Ian Desmond and first baseman Adam LaRoche are on pace to hit more than 30 home runs.
In 83 games, Desmond has 17 jacks, and LaRoche has 15 big flies. Desmond has a .285 batting average, and he was selected to be a reserve in the All-Star game (he withdrew with an injury).
He's seeing the ball and hitting the ball very well, especially for a shortstop. It's rare for a shortstop to have 17 homers in 83 games (which is more than one home run in every five games).
LaRoche isn't getting on base often (he has a .255 batting average), but he does have a lot of power. He has been known to crush balls into right field, and he has done that a lot this year. If LaRoche doesn't get hurt, he should be able to hit 15 more home runs.
Both players are great, and they have both done very well this year. However, LaRoche has only hit 30-plus homers once, and Desmond has never hit more than 10 homers (before this year). Both will have to continue to hit the ball well, but I think it's certainly possible.
And I think it will definitely happen.
Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez Will All Continue Their Success
Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez talk while watching the Nationals beat the Giants on the Fourth of July.
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Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg were both picked by the Nationals with the first pick of the MLB draft. And both have had success.
Harper is hitting .283 with eight homers and 23 RBI, and he's the youngest position player to play in an All-Star game. Strasburg is 9-4 with a 2.82 ERA, and even though he's lost three straight starts, he has pitched very well throughout the season. Strasburg leads the team with 128 strikeouts and a 1.10 WHIP.
And Gio Gonzalez? He's probably been the best out of everyone on the team.
The star southpaw has 12 wins, which is tied for the MLB lead, and a 2.92 ERA. Gonzalez's curveball is one of the best pitches in the league, and just like Strasburg, Gonzalez knows how to strike guys out. In 101.2 innings pitched, Gonzalez has 118 strikeouts.
All three have been great, but they will all have to keep up their success. Bryce Harper is only going to get better, but it's possible that he struggles in the second half. Strasburg's three consecutive losses is not a good sign, and even though Gonzalez has won four straight starts, he could slump.
However, I don't think any of them will slump. Gonzalez and Strasburg are strikeout machines, and opponents are hitting .192 against Gonzalez and .225 against Strasburg. Both are a lot better and more consistent than they were a year ago, and I think they will continue their success during the second half.
As for Harper, he won't slow down. He has figured out major league pitching, and he knows how to get good wood on the ball. Harper is great at defense, and he brings a lot of energy into the game. I doubt he will slow down—especially when his team needs him most.
Washington Will Win the NL East by 4+ Games
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The NL East is a very tough division, but the Nationals are leading it. And they're on top by four games.
New York and Atlanta are right behind the Nats, but Washington is in first place at the All-Star break. They have a lot of talented players, and if they keep playing like this, they will be in first place at the end of the year.
Atlanta is only four games back, but shortstop Andrelton Simmons is hurt, Brian McCann and Dan Uggla are struggling, and Juan Francisco isn't a great third baseman. The team is thin at a lot of positions, and while they're trying to improve at the trade deadline, I don't see them catching the well-rounded Nationals.
As for New York, they're very thin at a lot of positions. They don't have a great catcher, they need some depth in the pitching staff, they need an outfielder and they need some other good players. David Wright and R.A. Dickey are great, but I don't see Dickey keeping up his first-half success.
The Phillies are always dangerous, but they're 14 games back and will likely trade Shane Victorino and/or Cole Hamels. I don't see the Marlins going anywhere, and since the Nationals have a capable player at every position and a lot of young talent, I think the Nats will run away with the NL East.
Washington Will Win the World Series
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This is definitely the boldest prediction that I have made.
There are a lot of great teams in baseball. The Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Cardinals, Giants and a lot of other teams have what it takes to win the World Series. However, I think the Nationals will take home the prize.
Unlike a lot of other teams, they have a good player at every position. Their worst position player is probably Jhonatan Solano, and he's just a young catcher who's playing well. Once Jayson Werth returns from injury, he, Bryce Harper and Michael Morse will make up a great outfield.
And the infield? It consists of Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Adam LaRoche.
Even though the Nationals have a lot of inexperienced players, I think they're capable of winning it all. The NL is fairly weak this year, and if Stephen Strasburg isn't shut down in September, he, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman would be a great starting pitching trio.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the Nationals, and there are a lot of good teams in the MLB. However, it's hard to argue that the Nationals don't have what it takes to win it all. As long as they put the talent together and keep up their first-half success, I think the Nationals will come away with the World Series trophy.
And if they don't do it this year, they'll certainly win one soon.