The Nationals had the best record in baseball in 2012 with 98 victories. Heading into the 2013 season, the team is already receiving expectations that they will be just as good.
ESPN The Magazine senior writer Buster Olney ranks the Nationals as No. 2 on his early power rankings behind world champion San Francisco Giants (subscription required). Olney cites the addition of center fielder Denard Span and the continued progression of the young outfielder Bryce Harper.
Olney also says with Stephen Strasburg not handcuffed by an innings limit this season, the Nats will continue to have great pitching. This is even with slugger Adam LaRoche still unsigned.
Olney has the Atlanta Braves at No. 9 and says the Nationals are the favorite to with the National League East again.
Of course, power rankings mean nothing and are just fun ways for fans to describe their teams worth (or Werth?) lined up against their opponents. But it certainly shows the amazing rise this team has made in a matter of two seasons after perennially being considered a doormat in the major leagues.
The Braves will be very good and it will also be interesting to see what the Phillies do after surging in the final two months of the season.