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An improved Washington Nationals team should make the NL East a very competitive division in 2011.
The National League East division is slowly becoming like its American League counterpart - competitive. For the longest time, the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise have been at or near the bottom of the division. But things are starting to come alive in the Nation's Capital.
Led by Ryan Zimmerman, the Nats have the framework of a real competitive team. They made a huge splash when they signed outfielder Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million contract back in November. They also added Adam LaRoche's bat to their lineup, which gives them a formidable 3-4-5 heart of the order.
They've also got a number of youngsters that will look to make this franchise into a winner. Shortstop Ian Desmond played in his first full MLB season in 2010, and had pretty decent numbers (17 stolen bases and 10 home runs in 154 games). Drew Storen has closer stuff, and will be given the chance to finish games for the team in 2011.
And of course, you can't talk about the Nationals and not bring up Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper—two consecutive #1 overall picks. Strasburg made his debut last year, and while he blew hitters away for the first half of the season, he also blew his arm out in August and subsequently underwent Tommy John Surgery. He is expected to miss most, if not all, of the 2011 season.
Harper was a catcher/outfielder standout at the College of Southern Nevada. The Nationals had declared he would become their right fielder after a few seasons in the minor leagues, but with the signing of Werth, it will be interesting to see where he inevitably fits in.
Regardless, the Washington Nationals have the pieces in place to make themselves competitive for years to come. If they can add some solid, reliable arms to that pitching staff, they could be legitimate contenders. They've come long way since moving into DC.