A reason to hope for 2010

While I know I have been relatively silent over the last several weeks, I assure you it is not due to a lack of faith in our team or our future.

One thing is for sure: the future is bright.

This is clearly evidenced in Stephen Strasburg, our prized prospect who took the mound Monday night for the first time as a professional. Strasburg, pitching for the Nationals in the Florida Instructional League, pitched two strong innings allowing three hits, one run, and two strikeouts with no walks.

While this is just a small baby step towards what is hopefully a  mountain of a future, it has to be a big relief and a bright sign for all Nationals fans who just suffered a 103 loss season.

But there is reason to be optimistic Nationals fans.

The first reason is the obvious, Stephen Strasburg. Heralded as the next great star in Major League Baseball, the Nationals signed him this year for $15 million despite rumors that the flame-thrower would demand upwards of $50 million. This was one of the few victories for the Nationals in 2009, but it was a large one indeed.

Another reason to be optimistic is the rest of the young pitching staff for the Nationals. While it is a pitching staff that was often the butt of ridicule, it was young, and talented.  John Lannan finished the season with a 3.88 ERA and a 9-12 record with no run support. Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen, and Garret Mock all showed strong potential in rookie seasons where they were asked to perform like a number two starter, instead of the AAA starter they should have been. And Jordan Zimmermann, despite his injury, still led the team in strikeouts in 2009.

The optimism shouldn’t stop there. The man long heralded as the clubs franchise player finally took the step into stardom this year, as Ryan Zimmerman was arguably the best third-basemen in the National League. Given the plate protection of Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham, Zimmerman finished 2009 batting .292, 33 homers, 106 RBI and 37 doubles. The hot-corner is likley to get his first Gold Glove as well.  

Adam Dunn had his highest batting average of his career.

Nyjer Morgan lead the National League in steals.

Ian Desmond appears to finally be Major League ready.

Despite what anybody tells you, it’s a good time to be a Nationals fan.