JASON GETZ/ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION/MCT
The Nationals are a last place team. At least that’s where they’re heading for the 2010 campaign. That should not come as a surprise to people that have been following baseball as the Nationals have been basement dwellers for a few years. After losing over 100 games in 2009, how much getter could they get? But don’t let the past give you hang ups about D.C.’s baseball club. Here are some reasons you should love the Nationals.
1. The 2009 MLB Draft
The first round of the 2009 draft was a franchise-changer. The obvious reason last year’s draft was so important was Stephen Strasburg. The first overall pick, Strasburg was billed as the best pitching prospect of all time by some scouts. His raw talent was jaw-dropping. Fastballs that went over 100 mph, a knee buckling curveball and a changeup that was faster than many pitchers’ fastballs. As his debut showed, he has the ability to put on a real show. It’s a show you don’t want to miss.
The man many people forget from that draft was another first-rounder, Drew Storen.
Storen can prove to be almost as important as Strasburg in that he is their closer of the future. Since the Nationals traded All-Star closer Matt Capps, the team is more inclined to hand the righty from Stanford University the closer role. Like Mariano Rivera, Storen could be an anchor in the ninth for the Nats.
2. The left side of the infield
Few stars in the big leagues have been able to be as good as Ryan Zimmerman and still not receive national attention. Zimmerman, on a better ballclub, would undoubtedly be one of baseball’s brightest stars. An All-Star and Gold Glove winner, he has power to all parts of the field and has taken up the leadership role at the ripe old age of 25. He’s signed on with the Nats for a number of years and seems to be the type of player who would stick with a franchise.
Playing to his left is rookie Ian Desmond. Plagued by a huge amount of errors this season, Desmond’s defense looks more suspect than it actually is. He displays great throwing strength and amazing range. Desmond has said his errors are errors of aggression — trying to make plays he would be wiser to just eat. That will be fixed with experience. With the bat, Desmond has a bit of pop and a knack for coming up big in pivotal situations. He is hitting .298 with runners in scoring position this year. Desmond and Zimmerman will be staples of the Nationals squad for years to come.
3. Nationals Park
A new addition to the District in 2008, Nationals Park was a pristine palace compared to the Nats’ previous park, RFK. While it looks a bit industrial and lacks the beauty of Camden Yards in Baltimore, Nationals Park provides everything a fan needs. There is great food including a Ben’s Chili Bowl and Five Guys stand.
In addition to having some good D.C. grub, Nationals Park is located down the street from the Navy Yard Metro stop on the Green Line.
4. They will win ... eventually
Make no mistake about it, the Nationals in all likelihood will not be a playoff team for a couple of years. But they will definitely make a run relatively soon. Sophomores and freshmen at AU might be able to see the Nationals in a playoff race before they leave. With all the young talent the Nationals have been accumulating over the last few years it would make sense. By the time current freshmen are getting ready to graduate, 17-year-old phenom Bryce Harper (another first pick for the Nats) could be an everyday outfielder for a first place Nats squad.
The other benefit to this is that when the Nationals do win, you can say that you were there when they were in last. You cheered for them when they won and were disappointed when they lost. But when they start to win, and they will, you can say I am a true fan, through thick and thin.