By Brian Skinnell on March 20, 2014
Last season, the Washington Nationals underperformed to finish second in the NL East with an 86-76 record and no playoff berth. This season, they've reloaded and are back looking to take their division crown from the Atlanta Braves. Here’s what we can expect out of them in the 2014 MLB season.
5. Wilson Ramos
4. Denard Span -- Span will become a premiere leadoff hitter in his second season in Washington.
3. Bryce Harper
2. Ian Desmond -- He has become quite the power hitter, and you can expect plenty of long balls this year.
1. Jayson Werth -- After a 2013 campaign that finished with him batting over .300, expect another big season.
5. Doug Fister -- The newest pitcher, expect Fister to have a solid season starting for the Nationals.
4. Gio Gonzalez
3. Tyler Clippard -- Out of the bullpen, he’s gotten better and better each year
2. Jordan Zimmermann -- You can expect Zimmermann to be in the NL Cy Young discussion.
1. Stephen Strasburg -- Along with Zimmermann, Strasburg will be a Cy Young contender.
5. Mike Gonzalez
4. Jose Lobaton
3. Nate McLouth -- Washington has a solid fourth outfielder in McLouth.
2. Jerry Blevins -- The Nationals needed a lefty in the ‘pen and they’ve got a good one in Blevins.
1. Doug Fister -- He’s the No. 4 pitcher, but he’s good enough to the Opening Day starter on many other clubs.
5. Brian Goodwin -- Speed kills. Goodwin is a lethal weapon.
4. Matt Skole -- He’s a hard-hitting future infielder.
3. Lucas Giolito -- The Nats' most recent first-round pick, Giolito will be pitching his first season after having Tommy John surgery.
2. A.J. Cole
1. Sammy Solis -- Yet another future pitching star, expect Solis to dazzle in the minors.
There’s no reason why the Nationals can't duplicate their 2012 regular season of 96 wins. They should be able to win the division and get back into the playoffs, but go much further.
Prediction: the Nationals will go 95-67, win the NL East in the final month of the season and make it all the way to the NLCS in the playoffs.
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