Rachel Levitin: Lackluster October offense shouldn't discredit a quality season

At the end of each baseball season, 29 teams go home without a ring. Unfortunately for baseball fans in Washington, the Nationals are one of those teams that went home without the ring in 2014. The team's playoff run lasted four games against the San Francisco Giants after Tuesday night's elimination match-up in which the Nats fell two games to one against their NLDS competitor. From what I could gather from casual fans I follow on Facebook and Twitter, the majority were discontent regarding two things - how manager Matt Williams utilized the bullpen and the lack of consistent run support from the team's prime sluggers of the season (ex. Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche). For what it's worth, I understand their frustration. The thing about Williams though is that he's a first-year manager who actually did pretty well while learning on the job. Once he settled into a lineup that had productive results, the Nats' full roster continued to step up where and when needed amidst a slew of injuries to their starters. The Nats went 96-66 in the regular season and ended up with the best record in the National League. That was no easy feat. The Nationals haven't always been contenders for something beyond the regular season. It's only in recent years, with smart additions (and subtractions) conjured up and executed by General Manager Mike Rizzo, that the Washington Nationals even had a glimmer of hope as an organization of achieving October baseball status. So really, what I'm trying to get at here is that as disappointing as the end of the Nationals' 2014 season was, the fact is that they're going to be a perennial contender for their division. So all is not lost! And, as long as the Nats can figure out how to hit in playoff games instead of lying mostly dormant at the plate, there may just be a Nats squad in the near future that makes it past the NLDS. That's the key to success here, especially with the enviable starting rotation currently in place. It's simple really - if they hit, they'll win. It's hard to say goodbye to this season. Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter was the perfect way to put a bow on all games played prior to October. Washington didn't make it past the NLDS, but they made their second trip to the playoffs in three years with a new manager in his first year on the job. That same team won ten games in a row, with several walkoffs to boot in that stretch of games. So for as disappointing as Game 4 of the NLDS was, it's important to remember what this team was able to accomplish this year and - in turn - look toward 2015 knowing that if the Nats can keep this up and "clutch hitting in the playoffs" to their collective skill set, they just might make it to the NLCS sooner rather than later. Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC. Follow her on Twitter: @RHLevitin. She will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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