The San Francisco Giants were perfectly constructed to win a World Series title in 2012. No, they did not have the most talented roster, but their combination of stellar starting pitching, timely hitting and very solid bullpen propelled them to victory.
The Washington Nationals have all of the pieces in place to follow the same blueprint for success.
Last season, the Nationals came within one strike of advancing to the National League Championship Series—the first time in team history that the team would have done so.
It was a season of firsts throughout, actually. It was the team's first NL East title since 2005, as well as its first winning record.
In short, last season was truly magical in the nation's capital.
More will be expected of the Nats in 2013, and they are constructed perfectly to meet their goals.
The starting pitching is so good, it's almost unfair.
Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez headline the strong rotation. Gonzalez finished third in the NL Cy Young voting last season, while Strasburg had stellar numbers over the 159.1 innings he pitched before being shut down.
With no innings limit on him next season—at least, none as of yet—the sky's the limit for the hard-throwing righty.
Jordan Zimmermann is a great No. 3. He improved immensely in 2012, but his win total suffered due to an inconsistent offense in the beginning of the season. With a better offense in 2013, Zimmermann's numbers should finally reflect his talents.
The back end of the rotation will be comprised of Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler. Haren, if he gets back to his pre-2012 form, could give the Nationals three aces and a semi-ace in Zimmermann. Should that happen, there's no stopping Washington from dominance.
Detwiler, meanwhile, is a perfect No. 5 guy. He can provide the team with quality innings (3.40 ERA last season) and is a reliable guy to take the ball every fifth day.
The timely hitting was another strength last season, and it will likely be again moving forward.
When runners are on base, all it takes is a clutch hit to bring them in. The team has many talented bats—Denard Span, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond, etc.—and should have no problems driving in runs.
Bench bats like Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina also came up with clutch hits all season long and will be a big part of the team's successes.
In addition, the bullpen may be just as dominant as the starting pitching, and that's really saying something.
Newly-signed Rafael Soriano solidifies the closer's role—did it need solidifying?—and Drew Storen's demotion to setup man really makes the eighth and ninth innings tough for opposing lineups. Tyler Clippard in the seventh just seems like overkill at this point, but it's a sad reality that opposing managers will have to deal with.
With such dominant relievers late in games, other teams will have to beat guys like Strasburg, Gonzalez and Zimmermann in six innings. That's not easy to do.
And Ryan Mattheus, Craig Stammen, Zach Duke and Henry Rodriguez all figure to play important roles as well.
Should any holes open up by the trade deadline (as unlikely as it may seem), general manager Mike Rizzo will have plenty of bullpen depth to deal from.
The Nationals may very well be the best-constructed team in all of baseball, and their blueprint for success will follow that of the Giants of 2012. Strong pitching and timely hitting is a great recipe for success, and that's what'll be the case for the 2013 Nationals.