2013 Washington Nationals Story Lines

IT IS OPENING DAY!!!  Sorry for my excitement there but in all my boredom of Spring Training I forgot that when it ends the baseball season begins. For the Nationals the 2013 season looks to be the Dark Knight to 2012's Batman Begins, or Godfather II to Godfather. In other words, not just a worthy sequel but one that surpasses the brilliance of the original. And here is where my danger lies. To delve deep into the tangent I have begun or get back on track? Without any further introduction, here are a few story lines to watch for in 2013.   

The Bryce Harper/Stephen Strasburg Dynamic

As of right now there might not be two more interesting teammates in sports who are this polarly opposite. Bryce Harper is one of the best young position players in the sport and many scouts would label him as having the highest upside. Stephen Strasburg was an innings limit away from being in Cy Young consideration last year and admitted several times that he was still learning how to pitch. Many pre-season predictions have Harper for MVP and Strasburg for Cy Young. It is rare that the most talented hitter and most talented pitcher of a generation end up on the same team, but that could be the case here in Washington.  

What makes them so interesting isn't their talent, but their personalities, and how strikingly different they are. Bryce Harper is the outgoing, monster truck driving, dog named Swag owning, Under Armour commercial starring, most electrifying player in baseball, and that is who Harper wants to be. He wants to be the cover boy getting all the attention. Bryce Harper wakes up every day willing and wanting to prove his greatness. Strasburg is simply great. He wants to go about his work and if no one ever noticed or paid attention he would be happy. Strasburg doesn't want nor like the media attention; he wants to be a pitcher and that is all. There couldn't be two more opposite personalities on the planet than those of Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, and yet here they are the most talented young position player in the game and the most talented young pitcher, and they happen to play for the same team.

The Return of Wilson Ramos

If we were to rank human beings that had the worst years in 2012 Ramos would be near the top. After being kidnapped in 2011 and wanting his life to return to normal through the playing of baseball that was taken away from him in May when he tore his ACL chasing down a passed ball against the Reds. Without Ramos the Nationals’ catching situation went from ok with Jesus Flores performing well as a back-up to bad with Flores getting exposed as a starter and then every prospect the Nationals brought up promptly getting injured. Nothing was settled with the Nationals’ catching situation until August when they acquired Kurt Suzuki from the A's.  

How Wilson Ramos performs and how he returns from the ACL tear will be interesting to watch. In 2012 Nationals catchers amassed a paltry OPS of .659 and with any luck Ramos will be able to improve that greatly. He is already ahead of schedule as few thought he would even be the Opening Day catcher or begin the season with a 50/50 split of catching duties with Kurt Suzuki, but that is how it will begin and by late May or early June Ramos could be the primary catcher.

The Expected World Series

Remember that great Tigers/Marlins World Series this past October or the Phillies/Red Sox the year before that or in 2010 when the Yankees squared off with the Phillies, and who can forget the 2009 World Series of the curse breaking Red Sox against the still cursed Cubs. Not a single one of those World Series happened, but those were the "experts" picks, or at least the majority of them. The point is what is expected to happen in baseball rarely does and now, with the Washington Nationals season only hours away, they are expected to be in the World Series against the Tigers. 

If that does end up being the World Series, few baseball fans will complain. Who doesn't want to see Strasburg vs. Verlander with it all on the line? Or the bulldog Ace in Jordan Zimmermann taking on the likes of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Then there is that entire Fielder/LaRoche drama from before the 2012 season. The Nationals vs. the Tigers would be a great baseball match-up, but if history tells us anything it is that there is a big chance that neither of those team are even in the World Series and one of them may miss the playoffs entirely. Perhaps this is the year that beats the odds because the odds come true.

There are a few other story lines I could write about, but I wrote about the redemption of the Nats and this being Davey Johnson's last season for The Citizens of Natstown Washington Baseball Annual. This year looks to be one rich in story lines and great baseball for the Washington Nationals, and the best thing to do is what I say to do every year no matter the expectations: Sit back relax and enjoy the 162 game roller coaster that is the baseball season. This one certainly looks like it is going to be fun.

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