MLB Spring Training 2011: Why the Washington Nationals Are on Their Way

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MLB Spring Training 2011: Why the Washington Nationals Are on Their Way
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Ryan Zimmerman leads the Nationals into the Future

You know, I just love the sound.

The crack of the bat or the "thwap" of the ball hitting the glove, it means something. It means we have made it through another winter. Another cold four months of looking forward to nothing but more cold fronts.

It means renewal and the hope—oh yes, that hope.

It means the hope that this could be the year. There have been more than a few times when the worst teams in baseball suddenly became the best.

The 1991 Atlanta Braves captivated the entire southeast portion of the country with their run to a World Series after finishing last the previous year. Who did they meet in the World Series? The Minnesota Twins, a team that had also finished last the year before.

All they did was play one of the greatest World Series in the history of the game.

Right now everyone is in first place and talking about their chances, "If we get a few breaks...," "If things fall our way...," "If we can stay close, I think we can make a run..."

They all have that hope.

There is one team this year that finished in last that could surprise some people. I don’t know if they are a playoff contender this year, but they will be soon. The nucleus is there and it’s young. I wouldn’t be shocked if they were able to make a World Series run in a few years.

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The team? The Washington Nationals—wait, wait, stop laughing.

Good teams start with good pitching and the Nationals have plenty of young, talented arms: Steven Strasburg (pending injury comeback), John Lannan, Jordan Zimmerman and a few other starting pitchers in the pipeline. A bullpen that ends with Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen will be hard to come back on in the late innings.

Offensively, they have Nyjer Morgan, the newly acquired Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman to anchor the lineup with No. 1 pick Bryce Harper quickly on the way.

With up and coming catcher Wilson Ramos and rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa making themselves known this year, this could be one of the best hitting lineups in the National League in just a short time.

Young shortstop Ian Desmond rounds out a very young cast of talented baseball players that could bring excitement and a bevy of wins to the Nation’s Capital for years to come.

So, don’t laugh—it’s spring and spring means everyone has a little hope. Everyone includes the Nationals, who have been given multiple high draft picks during just the right years and then have traded to get just the right supporting pieces to make this interesting.

Starting now, this is no longer your father’s Nationals.

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