Coming off an impressive spring training, the Nationals enter the 2016 campaign healthy for the first time in many years. I believe the Nationals will win the N.L. East in 2016 because of their new look balanced lineup and dominating starting pitching.
Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, two players who have been plagued by injuries over the past few seasons, enter the year ready to go, unlike last season in the case of Werth. The additions of Ben Revere and Daniel Murphy will make the Nationals lineup much more balanced and decrease the strikeout numbers from last year.
Bryce Harper looked every bit as good as he did last season in spring training, and I believe with even more protection in the lineup this year, he will post even better numbers than he did in 2015. I believe Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos will have bounce back years and Michael Taylor will win the starting center field job by the All-Star break.
Pitching wise, Max Scherzer will have another All-Star caliber year and Stephen Strasburg will finally have his breakout season and take home the N.L. Cy Young award. The production of the back three starters Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark and Joe Ross will be key in helping the Nationals take the next step.
I think the Nationals new look bullpen will surprise some people with their production, lead by Jonathan Papelbon the experienced veteran closer. Lastly, I believe the presence of new manager Dusty Baker will be great for the team and they will have fun, but play the game very hard for their manager. Regardless of what happens, the Nationals are going to be an exciting team to watch this year, and it is great baseball is finally back.
Record: 92-70 – NL East Division Champs
Next up is co-editor Ricky Keeler, with his thoughts about the Nats’ new offensive approach:
Next: Ricky's Prediction