MLB Washington Nationals

5 Reasons Washington Nationals’ 2013 Season Was Better Than You Think

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5 Reasons Washington Nationals' 2013 Season Wasn't That Bad

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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Today is the day of the American League Wild Card game, and we are three days removed from the end of the season for our beloved Washington Nationals. There was no miraculous comeback to give Davey Johnson an ever better send off than he already had, no comeback from a huge deficit a la Tampa Bay Rays or Oakland Athletics of yesteryear. This was a season marked by ineffectiveness, poor play and endless frustration. Washington started slow and never recovered, both because of their own slow start and the red hot start of the Atlanta Braves, who never looked back.

Injuries were another major killer to Washington's season. Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth both spent significant time on the DL with the same injuries. In 2012, this allowed bench players to shine. 2013, however, not so much. The bench players that were so key to Washington's 98-win and NL East title season in 2012 were just as key to their less than 90, disappointing 2013, since the stand-ins were pretty much nonexistent.

There were some positives to Washington's season, too. Rafael Soriano has saved 43 games for Washington -- pretty impressive since Soriano was pulled from games this season. Also, Nationals fans got to see that their farm system still has some young pitching, and Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark came up and opened some eyes for Nationals brass and fans alike. This gives GM Mike Rizzo an interesting decision to make this offseason when he pursues pitching, since Washington does have an open spot with the much anticipated exit of $13 million bust Dan Haren.

All in all, Washington's season was much better than people think, and here are a handful of reasons why.

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5. Wilson Ramos is the Real Deal

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Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, he did spend time on the DL twice with the same hamstring problem, and he was also coming off of ACL surgery. Ramos still set a career high in home runs, hitting 16 in 287 at-bats. It's easy to round up to 500 at-bats, where Ramos would probably have hit somewhere between 25-30. To get that kind of pop from the 7-8 spot is incredible. Ramos showed us that 2013 was just an appetizer for what's to come in 2014.

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4. Jayson Werth's Still Got It

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Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, Werth's first two years with Washington were pretty much wasted years. This season was completely different. .318/.398/.532, 25 home runs, 82 RBI in 129 games showed us that Werth is going to make that huge contract look like a really smart deal. Werth is now a dark horse for the MVP award.

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3. The Emergence of the Rookies

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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Tanner Roark came up in early August, and all he did was go 7-1 and post a 1.51 ERA. Taylor Jordan came up at the end of June and from then until August, posted a 3.66 ERA. To have these two youngsters come up and go a combined 8-4 with a 2.86 ERA is miraculous and shows that Washington's farm system is not as depleted as we think.

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2. Anthony Rendon Solidified Second Base - For Now

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Rendon came up and put up some respectable numbers, showing a proficiency in getting on base and taking some tough pitches as well as holding his own at second base. Rendon may or may not still be at second in 2014, but he solidified a position that had been a problem for Washington to fill for years.

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1. Ryan Zimmerman Came Around

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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

As previously explored, Ryan Zimmerman pretty much had a good month followed by a bad month offensively. Zimmerman finished 2013 on an absolute tear offensively and showed that he is going to be back to his old self in 2014.