As sportswriters, the most important thing we ask of the athletes and coaches we cover is accountability. It's easy to do interviews after you hit a game-winning homer. It's not nearly as easy to do them after you give up a game-winning homer. But it's part of the job, and so we ask them to stand up and take the heat when they lose.
But it would be entirely unfair of us to ask those we cover to be accountable for their mistakes if we are not willing to be accountable for our own mistakes. Of which we make plenty. Boy, do we ever.
And so it's time for all of us to eat a big old plate of crow. You may recall that way back on opening day, those who make up the Nationals beat writing corps made a whole bunch of predictions on how the 2016 season would play out. We did, in some cases, do quite well. In other cases, we didn't even come close to doing well.
Sincere apologies to all of my pals on the beat (even James Wagner, who left to cover the Mets in midseason) for dredging this up. But you know what? It's only fair that we stand up and take the heat for a change.
WHICH NATIONALS WILL BE SELECTED FOR THE ALL-STAR GAME?
Jamal Collier (MLB.com) - Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg
Todd Dybas (Washington Times) - Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg
Craig Heist (106.7 FM) - Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg
Chase Hughes (CSNmidatlantic.com) - Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg
Chelsea Janes (Washington Post) - Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg
Bill Ladson (MLB.com) - Bryce Harper, Ben Revere, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg
Pete Kerzel (MASNsports.com) - Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer
Eddie Matz (ESPN.com) - Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg
James Wagner (Washington Post) - Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg
Mark Zuckerman (MASNsports.com) - Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer
CORRECT ANSWER: The Nats had a club-record five All-Stars this season: Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Wilson Ramos, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
WINNER: Everyone had Harper. Almost everyone had Scherzer. Most had Strasburg. Nobody had Murphy or Ramos. In the end, seven people correctly named three All-Stars: Jamal Collier, Craig Heist, Chase Hughes, Chelsea Janes, Bill Ladson, Eddie Matz and James Wagner.
WHAT WILL TOTAL HOME ATTENDANCE BE?
Eddie Matz - 2,714,688
Todd Dybas - 2,702,429
Jamal Collier - 2,700,000
Chelsea Janes - 2,700,000
Bill Ladson - 2,700,000
Craig Heist - 2,635,412
Pete Kerzel - 2,626,262
Chase Hughes - 2,640,000
James Wagner - 2,580,000
Mark Zuckerman - 2,537,984
CORRECT ANSWER: The Nationals drew a total of 2,481,938 fans this season, down slightly from last season, 14th out of 30 major legue clubs.
WINNER: If we're playing by "The Price is Right" rules, nobody wins cause we all went over. But we're not playing by those rules, especially when it allows me to win one of these categories.
HOW MANY HOMERS WILL BRYCE HARPER HIT?
Bill Ladson - 50
Jamal Collier - 45
Pete Kerzel - 41
Craig Heist - 40
Mark Zuckerman - 40
Eddie Matz - 39
Todd Dybas - 38
Chelsea Janes - 38
Chase Hughes - 37
James Wagner - 35
CORRECT ANSWER: Harper hit 24 homers this season, down from his league-leading 42 from last season.
WINNER: Sorry, Wags, you don't get credit for this one. You may have been low man on the totem pole, but you still overshot Harper's total by 46 percent.
WHO WILL LEAD THE PITCHING STAFF IN WINS? HOW MANY?
Todd Dybas - Stephen Strasburg, 21
Bill Ladson - Max Scherzer, 20
Pete Kerzel - Stephen Strasburg, 19
Eddie Matz - Max Scherzer, 19
Mark Zuckerman - Max Scherzer, 19
Craig Heist - Stephen Strasburg, 18
Chelsea Janes - Stephen Strasburg, 18
Chase Hughes - Max Scherzer, 17
James Wagner - Max Scherzer, 17
Jamal Collier - Stephen Strasburg, 17
CORRECT ANSWER: Max Scherzer earned his 20th win during Sunday's regular season finale.
WINNER: Let's hear it for Bill Ladson, whose relentless optimism paid off in this case.
WHO WILL LEAD THE PITCHING STAFF IN STRIKEOUTS? HOW MANY?
Eddie Matz - Max Scherzer, 282
Bill Ladson - Max Scherzer, 280
Pete Kerzel - Max Scherzer, 266
Chase Hughes - Max Scherzer, 265
Chelsea Janes - Stephen Strasburg, 262
Mark Zuckerman - Stephen Strasburg, 262
Craig Heist - Max Scherzer, 258
Jamal Collier - Stephen Strasburg, 257
Todd Dybas - Stephen Stasburg, 236
James Wagner - Max Scherzer, 225
CORRECT ANSWER: Scherzer not only led the Nats, but led the majors with 284 strikeouts this season.
WINNER: It came down to Sunday's finale, and thanks to Scherzer's seven strikeouts against the Marlins, Eddie Matz takes this category.
WHO WILL BE THE SIXTH PITCHER TO START A GAME?
Todd Dybas - Yusmeiro Petit
Chelsea Janes - Yusmeiro Petit
Pete Kerzel - Yusmeiro Petit
Eddie Matz - Yusmeiro Petit
Craig Heist - Lucas Giolito
Chase Hughes - Lucas Giolito
Bill Ladson - Lucas Giolito
Jamal Collier - A.J. Cole
James Wagner - A.J. Cole
Mark Zuckerman - A.J. Cole
CORRECT ANSWER: When Stephen Strasburg was a late scratch June 20 in Los Angeles, Yusmeiro Petit ably stepped in as emergency starter and gave up three runs over six innings
WINNER: Todd Dybas, Chelsea Janes, Pete Kerzel and Eddie Matz were right to take the guy already on the big league roster instead of a minor leaguer who needed more advance notice to make such an emergency start.
WHO WILL BAT SECOND IN THE LINEUP THE MOST TIMES?
Jamal Collier - Anthony Rendon
Todd Dybas - Anthony Rendon
Craig Heist - Anthony Rendon
Chase Hughes - Anthony Rendon
Chelsea Janes - Anthony Rendon
Pete Kerzel - Anthony Rendon
Bill Ladson - Anthony Rendon
Eddie Matz - Anthony Rendon
James Wagner - Anthony Rendon
Mark Zuckerman - Anthony Rendon
CORRECT ANSWER: Though Rendon spent the first six weeks of the season batting second (34 total games), he and Jayson Werth swapped spots in mid-May. Werth wound up leading the way with 93 games batting second
WINNER: Uh, yeah, nobody.
HOW MANY GAMES WILL RYAN ZIMMERMAN PLAY?
Craig Heist - 140
Chelsea Janes - 135
Mark Zuckerman - 135
Pete Kerzel - 131
Chase Hughes - 130
Bill Ladson - 130
Eddie Matz - 128
Jamal Collier - 120
James Wagner - 120
Todd Dybas - 108
CORRECT ANSWER: Zimmerman wound up playing in 115 games, making a couple of brief disabled list stints due to a strained ribcage muscle and a bruised wrist.
WINNER: It was close, but Jamal Collier and James Wagner narrowly beat out Todd Dybas for this one.
WHAT WILL JAYSON WERTH'S BATTING AVERAGE BE?
Bill Ladson - .290
Chase Hughes - .285
Pete Kerzel - .281
Todd Dybas - .278
Mark Zuckerman - .278
James Wagner - .270
Eddie Matz - .268
Jamal Collier - .260
Craig Heist - .255
Chelsea Janes - .248
CORRECT ANSWER: Werth got on base at a nice clip (.335) and hit for power (28 doubles, 21 homers), but he didn't hit for a high average, finishing at .244.
WINNER: Chelsea Janes was the only one in the group to correctly predict Werth's batting average wouldn't reach .250.
HOW MANY PLATE APPEARANCES WILL MICHAEL A. TAYLOR GET?
Jamal Collier - 520
Todd Dybas - 482
James Wagner - 475
Bill Ladson - 450
Chelsea Janes - 438
Mark Zuckerman - 408
Chase Hughes - 400
Pete Kerzel - 399
Eddie Matz - 359
Craig Heist - 328
CORRECT ANSWER: Back on opening day, the Nats were trying to figure out how they were going to make sure Taylor got as much playing time as possible. But his struggles landed him back in Triple-A Syracuse for a while, and he finished with only 237 plate appearances.
WINNER: Craig Heist came closest, but he really wasn't all that close.
HOW MANY GAMES WILL TREA TURNER START FOR THE NATIONALS?
Chase Hughes - 125
Bill Ladson - 120
Pete Kerzel - 77
Mark Zuckerman - 62
Jamal Collier - 60
James Wagner - 50
Craig Heist - 30
Chelsea Janes - 16
Eddie Matz - 16
Todd Dybas - 8
CORRECT ANSWER: Turner was called up for good in July and wound up starting 69 games, most of them (shockingly) in center field.
WINNER: No category had a wider range of predictions than this one. In the end, I missed by seven games, besting my colleague Pete Kerzel, who missed by eight.
WHEN WILL LUCAS GIOLITO MAKE HIS MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT?
Chase Hughes - April 24 vs. Twins
Bill Ladson - May 10 vs. Tigers
Craig Heist - May 13 vs. Marlins
Jamal Collier - June 11 vs. Phillies
James Wagner - June 15 vs. Cubs
Mark Zuckerman - July 1 vs. Reds
Pete Kerzel - Aug. 6 vs. Giants
Eddie Matz - Aug. 13 vs. Braves
Chelsea Janes - Aug. 25 vs. Orioles
Todd Dybas - Sept. 14 vs. Mets
CORRECT ANSWER: Giolito's highly anticipated debut came on June 28 against the Mets. He wound up starting only four big league games, appearing in two others out of the bullpen.
WINNER: Well, well, well, look who only missed by three days ...
HOW MANY SAVES WILL JONATHAN PAPELBON RECORD? HOW MANY BLOWN SAVES?
Mark Zuckerman - 38, 4
Eddie Matz - 36, 5
Todd Dybas - 36, 6
Bill Ladson - 35, 5
Pete Kerzel - 35, 6
Jamal Collier - 32, 5
Chelsea Janes - 32, 5
Chase Hughes - 32, 6
James Wagner - 30, 6
Craig Heist - 29, 7
CORRECT ANSWER: Papelbon saved 19 games and blew three saves before his unceremonious departure from the organization in early August.
WINNER: Turns out we were all fairly optimistic about Papelbon's chances for success this season. Craig Heist came closest to being right, but we all missed by a significant amount.
HOW MANY GAMES WILL THE NATIONALS WIN?
Bill Ladson - 100
Mark Zuckerman - 93
Craig Heist - 92
Chase Hughes - 92
Pete Kerzel - 92
Eddie Matz - 92
Jamal Collier - 91
Todd Dybas - 91
Chelsea Janes - 91
James Wagner - 91
CORRECT ANSWER: The Nationals finished 95-67, winning the National League East title.
WINNER: One of these years, Bill Ladson's triple-digit prediction is going to be right. This wasn't the year. I came closest at 93 (though I will admit I had them winning a wild card berth, with the Mets winning the division).
HOW WILL THE NATIONALS' SEASON END?
Bill Ladson - Win World Series
Todd Dybas - Lose National League Champsionship Series
Chase Hughes - Lose NLCS
Pete Kerzel - Lose NLCS
Eddie Matz - Lose NLCS
Craig Heist - Lose National League Division Series
Chelsea Janes - Lose NLDS
James Wagner - Lose NLDS
Mark Zuckerman - Lose NLDS
Jamal Collier - Lose NL Wild Card Game
CORRECT ANSWER: Stay tuned, cause this one hasn't been decided yet.
WINNER: Everyone's still in play, except for poor Jamal Collier, who had the least faith in this team of anyone. Rookie mistake.