The good folks at Baseball America have put out their 2012 Major League Preview and Predictions, and Washington Nationals fans just got another reason to be excited about the upcoming season. According to BA, the Nats can expect to place second in the hotly contested NL East and earn an NL Wild Card spot.
Most pundits have the Nationals somewhere either second or third in the East, but the difference between those two positions could determine who makes the playoffs and who spends October at home. The Nats continue to generate a lot of buzz across the league, and with good reason. Their young and top-to-bottom pitching staff has immediately thrust them into fringes on the postseason for the first time in team history.
According to BA's predictions, in the best-case scenario the Nationals could overtake the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East and actually win the division. To do that, though, a lot of things have to go right. Most baseball people will tell you it's impossible to have a perfect year, but if Gio Gonzalez makes an easy transition to the NL, Stephen Strasburg stays healthy, and Bryce Harper joins the bigs and clubs about 20 homers, the Nationals could overtake the aging Phillies and their outstanding rotation.
The confidence in the Nationals to place second in the division comes from concerns across East, as well. The Atlanta Braves pitching staff can has been extremely fragile in the last few years, and their ace, Tim Hudson, will likely miss all of April with a neck injury. I've said it before, the Miami Marlins could be a 72-win team or a 92-win team, and everything in between. It all depends on the clubhouse and the health of Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes.
The Nats continue to have a positive camp, showing confidence in themselves and their play. It's a product of Davey Johnson's managerial style and a more experienced clubhouse. The Nats, specifically Brad Lidge, believe they have an immensely talented product to put on the field every day, and if the team believes it, that's a major step to seeing positive results on the field. As media sources around the country start to notice the Nats are here to say, these predictions are just going to keep coming.