The Mets of 1986 won 108 games and seemed to become a better team going into 1987. They replaced World Series hero Ray Knight with new 3B Howard Johnson, who had a breakout season with his 36 HR, 99 RBI and 32 SB. Newly acquired LF Kevin McReynolds hit 29 HR and drove in 95 runs. The team added depth to its pitching staff with guys like David Cone, Terry Leach and Randy Myers. Yet, the team took a step back, winning 92 games and finished 2nd in the NL East to the St. Louis Cardinals. On the surface, the 1987 seemed like it would be better than 1986. The same could be said about the 2013 Nationals.
The Nationals added CF Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins, giving them both a solid defensive CF and leadoff batter. This also allowed the team to move Bryce Harper to LF and get a return for Michael Morse. They also added Rafael Soriano, giving themselves a serious upgrade in the position of closer. Dan Haren was expected to be an upgrade over Edwin Jackson. As good as the Nationals seemed to be on paper, it never came to fruition like the 1987 Mets.
The Nationals seem to have something in common with that Mets team. Both teams were managed by Johnson, both looked better on paper than they showed during the season and both did not seem like a team on the decline. The Mets returned to the postseason the following season in 1988, which seems like the path the Nationals are on. However, the team will do it without the services of Johnson, who is likely retiring after this season.