The Nationals Rapid Climb From Doormats To Dominance

Nationals have only 5 players under 30In 2005, the old Montreal Expos moved to Washington D.C., becoming the Washington Nationals. Initially, the Nationals struggled to win games and draw fans, while still very much looking like the same small market team they had hoped to leave behind in Montreal. Things finally started to look up when the team selected highly touted pitcher Stephen Strasburg, with the first pick in the 2009 draft. Strasburg made a splash during his 2010 debut, before blowing out his elbow and enduring Tommy John surgery. Strasburg went on to miss most of the 2011 season, while pitching on a strict timetable, during his return in 2012.

In 2010, Washington once again possessed the first pick, this time drafting another highly sought-after player, Las Vegas' Bryce Harper.

After the 2010 season, the Nationals broke the bank when signing former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth to a seven-year/$126 million contract. The 2011 hiring of World Series champion manager Davey Johnson continued the franchise's aggressive and rapid approach to achieving success.

Strasburg was back to pitch most of the 2012 season (was shutdown in September), while Harper made his much anticipated debut, winning NL Rookie of the Year honors. The Nats' young studs, in conjunction with lefty starter Gio Gonzalez and longtime 3B Ryan Zimmerman, led our nation's capital to a once improbable postseason appearance.

This season, after trading for CF Denard Span and signing pitchers Rafael Soriano and Dan Haren, the Nationals are considered by many to be the trendy pick to win the World Series.

With the new and improved Washington franchise spending money at this level, while also drafting and developing some of baseball's best young players (team only has five players above the age of 30), the former Expos are poised to be good (and fun to watch) for many years to come.