What the Nationals are hoping for in 2023

It’s New Year’s Day, and you won’t find anybody associated with the Nationals not named Meneses who was disappointed to see 2022 come to an end.

It was a miserable year, arguably the most miserable year in club history.

But like Mark McGwire once tried to do in front of a congressional panel, let’s not talk about the past anymore. Let’s look ahead to the future.

What does 2023 have in store for the Nats? Optimism, obviously, isn’t going to be sky-high, but there are plenty of reasons to believe it will at least be better than the just-completed year was.

Here are some reasonable outcomes various members of the team should be hoping to achieve in 2023 …

* JOEY MENESES: A full season in the majors with only moderate drop-off in production, establishing himself as a legitimate big league hitter.

* KEIBERT RUIZ: Increased power to go along with his already strong contact skills and throwing abilities behind the plate, resulting in his first career All-Star selection.

* CJ ABRAMS: A permanent place near the top of the Nationals lineup, thanks to an on-base percentage that tops .340, plus a whole catalogue of Web Gems to show off at shortstop.

* LUIS GARCÍA: Continued fundamental improvement and no reason for the team to consider sending him back to Triple-A.

* JEIMER CANDELARIO: At least 30 doubles, at least 15 homers and the opportunity to earn a much better deal as a free agent next winter.

* VICTOR ROBLES: Another Gold Glove Award nomination, a .320 on-base percentage and fewer than 10 outs made on the bases.

* LANE THOMAS: A little more consistency en route to a .750 OPS.

* CADE CAVALLI: Twenty-five big league starts with no major health issues, and enough eye-opening outings to convince everyone he’s the real deal.

* MACKENZIE GORE: Twenty-five big league starts with no major health issues, and enough eye-opening outings to convince everyone he’s the real deal.

* JOSIAH GRAY: Improved mechanics leading to a more effective fastball and a drastic reduction in home runs surrendered.

* PATRICK CORBIN: An ERA under 5.00. Is that too much to ask at this point?

* TREVOR WILLIAMS: Success as a full-time starter for the first time since 2018 in Pittsburgh.

* STEPHEN STRASBURG: Whether it includes another start for the Nationals or not, peace of mind and the recognition he deserves for delivering for this franchise when it really mattered most.

* KYLE FINNEGAN: Twenty saves and as few pitch clock violations as possible.

* CARL EDWARDS JR.: Enough success to prove 2022 wasn’t a fluke.

* HUNTER HARVEY: Zero trips to the injured list and his first career save.

* SEAN DOOLITTLE: A rousing chorus of “Dooooooo” as he enters from the bullpen cart again, and an even louder one as he departs the mound having retired the side.

* ROBERT HASSELL III, JAMES WOOD, JARLIN SUSANA, BRADY HOUSE, ELIJAH GREEN, JACKSON RUTLEDGE: Successful minor league seasons that propel each prospect one step closer to the majors.

* DAVEY MARTINEZ: Better pitching, better defense and a chance to stay as manager beyond 2023.

* MIKE RIZZO: Real improvement at every level of the organization, the right choice with the No. 2 pick in this summer’s draft and a chance to stay as general manager beyond 2023.

* MARK LERNER: The successful sale of the franchise to an owner ready to invest more resources into the on-field and off-field product, even if the final number doesn’t meet his original asking price.

* NATIONALS FANS: An enjoyable ballpark experience, some memorable games and moments and reason to believe things will be better sooner rather than later.

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