The Washington Nationals posted the best record in baseball in the 2012 season and start the 2013 season ranked No. 2 in Buster Olney's offseason power rankings at ESPN. The defending World Series champions, the San Francisco Giants, are at the top of Olney's rankings.
The Nats, who finished 2012 with a 98-64 record but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS in five games, have already made moves to improve next season. Olney notes the addition of Denard Span, the late season improvement of Bryce Harper, and a full season of Stephen Strasburg as reasons for even higher expectations from the Nationals next season.
Strasburg was shut down after 159.1 innings as a precaution as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery. He is expected to pitch a full season in 2013. Span will give the Nationals a true leadoff hitter, something they lacked last season. And Harper played his best ball at the end of his AL Rookie of the Year season. As clear favorites in the NL East next season, the Nats won't be sneaking up on anyone.