I predicted about 86 wins for the Washington Nationals last March. They won 98 of 162, won the NL East and then lost in Game 5 of the NLDS with St. Louis. I'd figured another jump of ten-to-eleven games from 59 in 2009, to 69 in 2010 and 80 in 2011 to 90+ was possible, but difficult, so I went for the low end of where I expected them to end up. A competitive team, but maybe not yet ready to take the next step right away. 98 wins? How could I have predicted that? Would the 2013 Nationals be able to make another jump like Davey Johnson's '86 Mets did, going from 98-64 in 1985 to 108 wins and the World Series the next season? I was asked how many games the Nationals would win in 2013 by the District Sports Page's Dave Nichols for the roundtable discussion he organized to preview the upcoming season. You know I wasn't going to say 108...
Win total and place in the division? 95-98 wins and 1st Place in the NL East again. I don't think it's far-fetched. I don't want to go overboard and say 108 wins like the Mets had in '86 after their 98-64 season in 1985. I think somewhere in the mid-90's is more likely depending on how the rest of the NL East does this year. The Braves should be a challenge again. The Phillies are old, but I'm not ruling out the possibility that their pitching can carry them if they're able to stay healthy. The Mets have some young pitchers on the way that are going to be good, though I'm pretty sure they have a rough 2013 ahead of them. The Marlins? More than anything else, I hate the fact the Fish can trade away everyone they signed last year and still field a team with promising talents like Adeiny Hechevarria, Mike Stanton, Jacob Turner, Henderson Alvarez and prospects like Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich behind them. It's just frustating that you already see the makings of the next good team that they eventually dismantle. The Marlins always play the Nats tough, the Nationals have to really pound them and the Mets and get the best of the Phillies and Braves over the course of the season if they want to repeat as NL East champs.
The District Sports Page's Dave Nichols organized this roundtable discussion with local writers covering the Nationals, inviting us all to discuss issues facing the defending NL East Champs heading into the 2013 campaign. Here are the people who participated:
- Dave Nichols - Editor-in-Chief, District Sports Page
- Alyssa Wolice - Staff Writer, District Sports Page
- Ted Starkey - Contributor to DSP, author and Editor at SBNation.com
- Ryan Kelley - DSP Prospects Writer and founder of BaseballNewshound.com
- Tom Bridge - Editor, We Love D.C.
- Joe Drugan - Managing Editor, The Nats Blog
If you're on the Twitter and aren't already following the folks listed above, you should be. Dave Nichols' Nationals coverage can be found at @NationalsDSP. The DSP's Alyssa Wolice is at @AWolice. The DSP and SB Nation's Ted Starkey can be located at @TedStarkey. Ryan Kelley can be found at @BBNewsHound. Tom Bridge and We Love DC's sports coverage can be found @WeLoveDCSports. And Joe Drugan posts on Twitter at @TheNatsBlogJoe.
• Check out what the other writers are predicting for the 2013 Nats through the link below: