It’s not weird when unexpected teams win anymore. But it’s always a bit of a surprise. Who would’ve called the Giants winning in 2010? Or the Cardinals in 2011? But this is unexpected. Most people put the Nationals as their wild card, or even not a playoff team at all. And until June, there was no worries about them. But with 10 as a magic number for the number one seed, the MLB wonders – how did it happen?
First, this isn’t new. This has been planned since 2007. The Nationals were failing as a win now team. They said goodbye to Alfonso Soriano, the center. And it became a draft and wait team. Strasburg, Harper, Storen, Espinosa, and more were drafted. They made little known trades to slowly but surely build up their system in the minors. And this winter, they added the final piece of the puzzle with 2 more starters in Gonzalez and Jackson. Even so, they went under the radar.
Late last September, I made a prediction. By September 2012, the Nats would have a playoff spot. If they sweep the doubleheader tonight – they’ll have a playoff spot.
The Nationals have built their franchise around 3 players: Ryan Zimmerman, the veteran, Stephen Strasburg, the fireballer, and Bryce Harper, the prodigy. And when those three met this year, with great surrounding players, for us who have been paying attention it was no surprise.
But when it came towards the middle of April, there was a bit of a jump. The Nationals home opener had been filled, even on a day that the high was about 60 degrees. The city of DC took notice that they (for once) actually had a great team.
And Davey Johnson, a name and face you associated with 1995 is a frontrunner for NL manager of the year. Maybe the lack of the attention was what made them a little more comfortable.
But make no mistake – the nationals are here, and here to stay.