It would be easy to say the Nationals might be in much better shape at this point in the season if certain major pieces of their organization had performed as expected. If Stephen Strasburg hadn’t gotten injured last season and missed all of this year. If Jim Riggleman hadn’t abruptly quit as manager earlier in the year. If Ryan Zimmerman hadn’t missed two full months after abdominal surgery. If Jason Werth weren’t hitting .224 with just 45 RBIs. These things weren’t expected and can be offered as reasons why the team has fallen below .500 over the course of the season.
But the real story in Washington is the future, and perhaps the very near future. Strasburg is back on the mound and looking strong in his comeback from surgery. Bryce Harper has baseball buzzing with his phenomenal performance in the minors so far, and may make it very difficult for the team not to bring him to Washington to start next season. Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa have emerged as big-time contributors at the Major League level.
With Strasburg back, Zimmerman healthy, and Werth performing closer to his norms, the Nats will be a team to watch in 2012.