But, lets not be silly. A starting pitching staff led by Gio Gonzalez (21-8, 2.89, 207 Ks in 199 1/3 IP) and Stephen Strasburg (15-6, 3.16, 197 Ks in 159 1/3) gives the Nationals one of the best one-two tandems in all of baseball. Most are expecting Strasburg to have a huge season. Haren (12-13, 4.33) should be an upgrade over Edwin Jackson (10-11, 4.03) in spite of Haren's overrated rough spring. Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 2.94) could see his win total rise with top teams focusing on the other starters. Ross Detwiler (10-8, 3.40) is arguably the best 5th starter in all of baseball.
The Nationals bullpen possessed three pitchers who could all close last season. Drew Storen (3-1, 2.37 in 37 games) was injured last season but had 43 saves in 2011. Tyler Clippard (2-6, 3.72, 32 saves) was the closer last year with Henry Rodriguez (1-3, 5.83, 9 saves) having the best makeup, pitch wise, to be the closer. The team put that all to rest with the signing of Soriano (2-1, 2.26, 42 saves), who had a phenomenal season filling in for Mariano Rivera as closer for the Yankees. The before mentioned three will be joined by Ryan Mattheus (5-3, 2.85) and Craig Stammen (6-1, 2.34) giving the team more depth than a lot of teams. They lost LHP Sean Burnett (1-2, 2.38) to free agency with hopes of replacing him with journeyman Zack Duke (1-0, 1.32 in 8 games). I see that as a slight drop off.
Offensively, the team should still rake. Having Span (.283, 4, 41, 17 SBs) gives the Nationals a lead off batter they did not have. NL Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper (.270, 22, 59, 98 RS) will shift over to LF with Jayson Werth (.300, 5, 31 in 81 games) expecting to stay healthy all season. Adam LaRoche (.277, 33, 100) comes back to the Nats after weighing his options all off season. Ryan Zimmerman (.282, 25, 95) is at 3B with Ian Desmond (.292, 25, 73, 21 SB) and Danny Espinosa (.247, 17, 56, 20 SB) anchoring the middle infield. Wilson Ramos (22-83, 3, 10) is back after missing just about all of last season and will platooning with Kurt Suzuki to start the season. The fact that Ramos will be on the roster opening day is a sign that Ramos has recovered quicker than expected from his injury. I'd line them up like this: Span CF, Desmond SS, Harper LF, Zimmerman 3B, LaRoche 1B, Werth RF, Ramos/ Suzuki C, Espinosa 2B.
Tyler Moore will provide some power off the bench, with Steve Lombardozzi, Jr and Chad Tracy rounding out the bench. Micah Owings is an interesting option. Owings finally gave up pitching after this past season and will be a full time OF. He was always known as a good hitter (.283, 9 HR for his career) and the Nationals have had a converted pitcher, having Rick Ankiel over the past couple seasons.
I like the Nationals, but not as much as most. Remember, few predicted the Nats would do as well as they did last season. Manager Davey Johnson got this team to win 98 games and got them within a late inning collapse of going to the NLCS. Now that hopes are high, I see them taking a step back, albeit a small one finishing at 92-70, second place in the NL East. Their over/ under is 90, so I am still going with the over, but this time they will have to play in the NL Wild Card play-in game.