A Little Perspective

DC Sports Nexus ---- Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Nationals are sitting atop of the NL East with a 4 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies. 

If your a casual baseball fan and you read that line you might say, "Hey now that's not half bad".  Then you'd take a look at the standings, see the Phillies are the LAST place team in the division, and scratch your head:

Fear not because your eyes do not deceive you.  The entire NL East is above .500.  So what does this mean for the Washington Nationals?  Well a couple of things...

A Weak Division?

People like to use certain, predictable insults against teams that are in first place.  One of the most popular is that the first place team is in a weak division.  This season I have heard tons of people saying that the Nats are lucky that the Phillies are having a terrible season and that the Braves are plagued with injuries.  Sure the Phillies aren't in first place, but in my book being 4 games out of the division lead is far from "terrible".  Sorry I don't subscribe to the notion that Philadelphia should always be in first, but that kind of thing SHOULDN'T be expected in a truly competitive division, which the NL East has become.

I'm not even going to touch on the injury argument...

The way I see it, the "weak division" argument holds a lot more water with a team like Texas, who is the ONLY team above .500 in the AL West.  Or how about the Dodgers, who play in the only division with TWO teams under 20 wins for the season.

Don't Get Cocky!

This probably goes without saying, but I've heard enough people talking about the playoffs already that I think this needs to be said.  Being in a competitive division proves that the Nationals are a legitimate team, but it also means that holding onto first place is going to be all that more difficult.  Lets not forget that during the 2005 season the Nationals held first place between June 5th and July 24th, getting to 19 games over .500 with a 5.5 game lead over the rest of the NL East.  We ended the season like this:


So Whats the Point?

Now I'm not predicting a mid-season collapse from this team.  In fact, far from it.  We have a pair of dominate pitchers leading our rotation, a great mixture of youth and experience at the plate and in the field, and also should have the expectation that the team will only get better as players start to come off the DL.  There is every reason to believe that this team is capable of special things.  So show some confidence when people try and tell us the Nats are a fluke. 

Confidence like Harper showed when he said:
"I think Gio's a No. 1 pitcher.  Every time we go out there I think we're going to win with him on the bump."

But don't get to far ahead of ourselves, like Harper did when he said:

"Hopefully he [Gio] can win a Cy Young this year. That’d be great."

In Bryce's defense he did just finishing watching Gio pitch an absolute gem against the Braves.

Question:  When I heard Bryce talking about the Cy Young it rubbed me the wrong way.  I know he said "hopefully", but for some reason it still came off as a little presumptuous.  Am I crazy or did it bother you a little too?

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