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2012 MLB Playoffs: The Washington Nationals' Keys to Victory

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2012 MLB Playoffs: The Washington Nationals' Keys to Victory
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals proved themselves this season. They established themselves as the team to beat in the NL, outplaying their opponents from opening day to October. After years of futility in D.C., they finally broke-out, and rewarded their fans with an outstanding performance.

Now that it's October, they'll have to prove themselves all over again.

During the regular season, the Nats led the MLB with 98 wins and they outscored their opponents by the largest margin (0.8 runs per game). And how were they rewarded? With a difficult postseason schedule and one additional home game in both the division and championship series.

So, if they're going to take home the gold, a World Series Championship, they'll need to continue to play their best baseball. Combining a level playing field, a small sample size of games and playoff-worthy opponents, means the Nats can't afford to slip-up. They'll need to fight tooth and nail to win, and they'll need a lot to go their way.

Many factors play in to postseason success, but for the Nationals, seven stand out the most. To win the World Series, they'll need luck on their side—a fluke error, a bloop or a Jeffrey Maier can have season-defining consequences when the stakes are this high.

To outfox their opponents late in ballgames, they'll need their top-notch bench to perform in the clutch. No team can win without some form of contribution from every player on the roster, and in the postseason, even the little guys have to play a lead role. 

On the individual scale, team-leaders Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Gio Gonzalez will need to step-up, take the reigns and play vital leadership roles on the field and in the clubhouse. Adam LaRoche, the lineup's left-handed slugging first baseman, needs to continue to hit like he did in the regular season—especially now that the club is facing so many talented right-handed starters. Finally, reliever Drew Storen will not only have to re-establish himself as the team's closer, but he'll need to pitch near-flawlessly under the intense pressure of the late-inning playoff spotlight. 

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