Washington Nationals Back in Brevard

by Eric Wright

 

Many remember the high expectations with which the Washington Nationals came into the 2012 Spring Training season.  What followed was a season that exceeded predictions.  Eight years after landing in D.C., the Nationals claimed their first National League East crown and post-season berth.  The Nationals tallied an impressive 100 wins in 2012, which included Major League Baseball’s best record (98-64) during the regular season, as they either led the NL East or shared the top spot for all but 10 days during the campaign.

 

In addition, the Nationals are only the fifth team in modern MLB history (1901-present) to post three consecutive seasons winning 10 or more games than the year prior, and they are the first team in over 100 years to do so without the benefit of an artificially deflated win total associated with a work stoppage.  These accomplishments garnered The Sporting News’ National League 2012 Manager of the Year Award for Davey Johnson.  He was quoted as saying, “To be recognized by my fellow comrades, a particularly accomplished bunch, makes this award especially meaningful. To put on the uniform every day and compete is an honor I never take for granted.”

 

In addition, Outfielder Bryce Harper became the youngest person ever to win the National League Rookie of the Year.  The 19-year-old didn’t make his Major League debut until April 28, 2012, but he made up for lost time, playing all three outfield positions and hitting 22 home runs.

 

Another Banner Year

The 2012 momentum and optimism is being carried into the new season with a number of blue chip prospects being cultivated in their farm organization and returning standouts including shortstop Ian Desmond, first baseman Adam LaRoche and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.  Also the pitching staff led by Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez had the best ERA (Earned Run Average) in the Majors. Gonzalez became a Cy Young Award candidate and led the league with 21 victories.

 

Though the post season play proved to be disappointing – losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Cardinals – the young Nationals roster gained valuable experience.  Perhaps General Manager Mike Rizzo summed things up for the whole team when commenting about pitcher Drew Storen, who allowed four runs in a 9-7 defeat to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS.   “He is a terrific young closer; [he’ll] make this a learning experience and be better for it in the future.”  Rizzo added, “Come Spring Training next year, he’ll be more battle tested.  The young players have grown up and they will be veterans and know how to react to the playoff atmosphere.”

 

Here on the Space Coast, the anticipation is growing for the return of Washington Nationals Spring Training baseball in Viera.

 

Washington Nationals 2013 Spring Training

February 23 – March 28

Space Coast Stadium in Viera, FL

15 home games including Cardinals, Tigers, Mets, Braves, Marlins and Astros

For tickets or more information, click here.