MLB Washington Nationals

5 Reasons to Be Thankful if You’re a Fan of the Washington Nationals

1 of 6

5 Reasons Nationals' Fans Should Be Thankful

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

2013 was a rough year to be a Washington Nationals fan. At season’s start they were World Series favorites, but at season’s end they weren’t even heading to the playoffs.

It was an up and down year. Fans saw the best of times, they saw the worst of times. The folks of D.C. struggled through the first half of the season which saw one of the game's brightest stars, Bryce Harper, nearly break his head open. Instead, he suffered a knee injury that kept him out of action for five weeks.

Harper wasn't the only notable Nationals player that missed time. Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Ross Detwiler were all M.I.A. at one point during the season. Let’s not forget about the countless outings by Dan Haren that made people want to pull their hair out.

What about Danny Espinosa? In 2012, he played very well and seemed to be a great fit for the Nationals at second base. Following the season, it seemed that center field was the only hole on the diamond. Turns out, second base needed some attention, too. By season’s end he was no longer playing for the Nationals at the MLB level.

But at the end of the year something magical happened. In the final two months of the season, Washington went 34-20 including a 18-9 September that kept them in the playoff hunt, albeit a slight chance of playing in October.

As the highest of the highs came, so did the lowest of the lows as the Nationals had to say goodbye to manager Davey Johnson. Johnson, easily the best manager the team has had since coming to D.C, led the Nationals to a playoff berth in 2012 and was loved and respected by all. Replacing him was no easy task, but they got it done in Matt Williams.

In the following five slides you’ll find five reasons why every Washington Nationals fan should be thankful heading into 2014. Time to stop pouting about the dismal 2013 season and give thanks that 2014 will be okay for the Nationals.

Brian Skinnell is a freelance sports writer for and contributor at Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter, Like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

2 of 6

5. Matt Williams is the Real Deal

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Davey Johnson left some big shoes to fill, but Matt Williams is more than capable of filling them. He understands the team he has around him and will be keeping the same coaches that were here before he showed up. He’s got a good attitude and, on paper, is the right man for the job.

3 of 6

4. 2013 Wasn’t THAT Bad

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

A couple years ago an 86-76 record with a second-place finish in the NL East would have been great. Now, it’s underwhelming and kind of depressing. In 2013, there were only two months in which the Nationals had a month-record under .500. They won ballgames, but they just couldn’t find any consistency until the very end.

4 of 6

3. Dan Haren is Gone

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

If there was every a pitcher that a team would be glad to see walk out the door for good, it’s Dan Haren. Haren was way overpaid at $13 million for his poor performances in 2013. Haren finished with a 10-14 record and a 4.67 ERA. During his season, there was an 11-game stretch in which the Nationals went 0-11.

5 of 6

2. The Stars Are Back

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Look at who’s returning on this roster. The core-three of the starting rotation - Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann - are back and showed no signs of fatigue in 2013. Ryan Zimmerman is still working the hot corner. Jayson Werth, Denard Span and Bryce Harper are still patrolling the outfield. Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon will still be turning double plays in the middle of the diamond, and Adam LaRoche always plays well in his contract year (i.e. 2012).

6 of 6

1. Offseason Transactions

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason is shaping to be an exciting one in Washington. With talk of the team looking to trade for Max Scherzer or David Price, some big names could be coming to town between now and Spring Training. When Mike Rizzo makes a move, usually it works out for the better of the team, so trust in the plan that he’s currently working through. The Nationals have deep enough pockets to make nearly any deal happen. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.