The 2012 Washington Nationals finished atop the NL East, winning the team's first division title since they moved to Washington in 2005.
But things can change in a hurry during the offseason.
The Nationals' negotiations with recent Gold Glove winner Adam LaRoche are going slowly, and he is the free agent target of at least one other team. And Washington is probably done with last season's fourth starter in the rotation, Edwin Jackson. But the Nats will welcome back catcher Wilson Ramos from injury. These and other changes could affect the on-field product for the Washington Nationals.
Of course, the other teams in the division will change as well. The second place and Wild Card-winning Atlanta Braves expect to lose their leadoff hitter and center fielder Michael Bourn, with his replacement as of yet unknown. The third place Philadelphia Phillies shed significant salaries at the trade deadline, but plan to retool instead of rebuild, and the ever-confident Jimmy Rollins even told CSNPhilly.com that the NL East "still goes through Philly." The fourth place New York Mets are rebuilding, but should improve with another year under the guidance of Terry Collins. And last but not least, the Miami Marlins may hold last place in the NL East for some time as a result of their blockbuster trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.
So, will all of these changes—not to mention any unforeseen moves—prevent the Nationals from repeating as division champs?
Here are 10 reasons why the Washington Nationals will stay atop the NL East next season.