The Washington Nationals won a team record 98 games in 2012. Can they win 100 in 2013?
Washington led the NL East for almost the entire 2012 season. Along the way, they posted winning records in every month. The Nationals best month was August as they went 19-10. Their worst was May as they finished 15-13. By September, they were 80-51 with 31 games to play. A 20-11 finish would have given them 100 wins, but Washington slumped down the stretch finishing 16-12 for the month. A part of this could be contributed to the Nationals shutdown of pitcher Stephen Strasburg after he had thrown his allotted 160 innings in his comeback from Tommy John surgery.
If Washington plays at the same level that they did in 2012, there is no reason to believe that they can not win 100. For most of last season, they were on a pace to do it. The Nationals never put their projected opening day lineup on the field in 2012 and still led the majors in victories. If they are able to remain healthy in 2013, there is a very good chance they can do it again.
Using simple math, one can make the case that Washington will win 100. If the pitching staff stays healthy, the Nationals can get half of this total from their aces, Gio Gonzalez and Strasburg. Gonzalez started 32 games and won 21. Strasburg started 28 and won 15. Together they were a combined 36-14. If together they start 65 games in 2013, Washington has a good chance of winning 50 of them. This leaves 50 games for the remainder of the staff to win. This is possible, as they won 62 last year.
Of course, there are other factors that go into winning 100 games. One is whether a team has to. Since MLB expanded their playoffs to include wildcards in 1995, winning one’s division has taken on less importance. Today, a team needs only to finish fifth in their league in order to advance to post season play. Most managers feel that once they have a playoff spot locked up it is best to prepare for the post season.
In order for a team to strive for 100 wins, they need competition to push them from within their division. The Nationals may get this from the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta won 94 games last season and Philadelphia won 102 in 2011. If both play up to those levels in 2013, Washington may have to win 100 in order to win the division.
For the Nationals, everything is in place for them to win 100 games next season. They learned how to win consistently last season. They have two strong starters at the top of their pitching staff. There is strong competition within the division. All Washington has to do is play the same fundamentally sound baseball it did in 2012 and give a little bit more.
Though 100 games do not guarantee a pennant or world’s championship, it is a nice goal to shoot for and one the Nationals are very capable of reaching in 2013.