Last night, the Nationals won their 69th game of the season, equaling their win total from last year with two weeks to go in the season.
Three more wins would get them past the 2006 team for the third-best win total since the team came to Washington in 2005. Five more would put them in second place, ahead of the 2007 Nationals. And they'd need to win 12 of their last 15 to get to 81 wins - which would actually put them above .500, since their game with the Dodgers is unlikely to be made up.
These are small milestones, and the Nationals will still likely end this season 14 to 17 wins shy of what it would take to get to the playoffs. If they run their win total into the mid-70s, though, they could make a nice statement for themselves heading into the offseason. It wouldn't be hard for free agents to look at a, say, 75-win team, add Stephen Strasburg - and at some point, Bryce Harper - to the roster, and envision where there could be a significant leap in 2012. And there's no question the team will have made significant progress from the 2009 season, when it needed a seven-game win streak just to get to 59 wins.
But when the Nationals will likely be heading into their eighth year without a winning season, what does the progress mean? This is where I'd love to hear from you - does it matter that the team will be returning to win totals in the 70s after years in the frigid 50s, or are you waiting to acknowledge progress until the team has pushed its victory total into the 80s and toward the 90s? Let me know.