In 2012, the Washington Nationals advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 1981. Just to give you a sense of how long ago that was, Ronald Reagan was in the ninth month of his first term as president, 'Endless Love' by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie was blowing up the airwaves, and the Nationals were still the Montreal Expos.
Yet, the team's 98 win season last year was no fluke. While the Nats made a big off-season acquisition by trading for Gio Gonzalez, one can really attribute their success to the big contributions by former first round picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.
Strasburg, who had required Tommy John surgery in late-August 2010, hurled a dominant 3.16 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 4.10 K/BB over 159.3 innings. His incredible 11.13 K/9 clip also bested any other starting pitcher in the major leagues.
The 19-year-old Harper looked like a veteran All-Star in his rookie debut, posting a .270/.340/.477 line with 22 HR and 18 SB, while gloving a 1.4 dWAR. In addition, his 5.2 WAR ranked just outside the top twenty.
With a homegrown core of Strasburg, Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen, and Ross Detwiler, as well as trade and free agent acquisitions like Gonzalez, Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Dan Haren, Rafael Soriano, and Tyler Clippard, the organization has the makings of a dynasty. ...read the rest of this article on Guy Speed.