“First in war, first in peace, last in the American League”used to describe the American League cellar-dwelling Washington Senators. In 2012,Washington D.C.’s team is no longer the Senators, no longer in the American League and no longer in last place.
The early 2012 surprises (emphasis on “early,” too small a sample to make any real projections) are the first-place Nationals (7-2) and Dodgers (8-1) and, to a lesser extent, the last-place Angels and Red Sox (each at 3-5).
Let’s look at the Nationals. (Note: In BBRT’s 2012 NL projections, we predicted a .500+ season and a stake in the Wild Card race for the Nats.) The Nationals are doing it with pitching. Through April 15, the Nationals have the NL’s lowest earned run average at 1.82, and have held opposing batters to a .170 average while striking out 88 in 84 innings pitched. The starting staff, led by Stephen Strasburg, Geo Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Edwin Jackson has led the charge to the top of the standings. Even fifth starter Ross Detwiler tossed 5 innings with only two hits, no runs, 1 walk and 6 Ks in his start.
Ultimately, it looks like Washington will be in the race to stay – and may even surprise some people in the playoffs.