What To Look Forward To In The 2023 Nats Season

From Nats Farm for TalkNats

Quite a few of the articles I post here are the result of an email or Twitter DM conversation with Ghost/Steve. And this one is no exception. I suggested one on why do you like baseball and Steve suggested an alternative which you can see in the title of the post,

This was motivated by the conversation in Bad is understandable — horrible shouldn’t be acceptable…

So we’ve collected some thoughts from a few folks to get the conversation started and invite you to add yours in the comments.

There is no right or wrong answer. So feel free to say whatever and ignore anyone who disagrees with your comments.

Andrew: I keep thinking of the years that led up to the Nats breakout 2012 season and making the playoffs. What is this 2023 team going to be on the curve to reaching the playoffs again?

What I look forward to is seeing enough progress to know what players are part of the future.  It should be a transformative season and I look forward to watching the 2023 season.

DonH: I’m going to start with a comment on my original idea. I love baseball because of its entertainment value and the ability to go to a game with others and talk about whatever. Winning is great. But seeing an entertaining game is even better.

I may have a biased perspective as I was a Senators fan and lost my home town team as I begain my freshman year at the the University of Maryland in the fall of 1971. I met my wife, had two kids, and was unable to take them to a game by my home town baseball team because by the time the Nationals came to town, they had graduated from college and moved on.

I did succeed in having my wife become a baseball fan however during the time DC had no baseball team – but that is another story.

So I love the Nats and go to about 25-30 gamess a year and watch most of the rest on the awful MASN network or listen to Charlie and Dave on the radio.

For 2023 I just want to see better baseball. More wins in great. Hoping for something in the mid/upper 60s (hopefully better). But better baseball and positive signs for the future is far more important to me.

Ghost/Steve: For me, it’s quite simple that I want to see the progress of the young and controllable core of players at the MLB level that include CJ Abrams, Luis Garcia, Keibert Ruiz, Cade Cavalli, MacKenzie Gore, and Josiah Gray. In addition, I want to see progress by the young prospects of James Wood, Robert Hassell III, Elijah Green, and Brady House as well as the next tier with Jarlin Susana, Cristhian Vaquero, Armando Cruz, and Jackson Rutledge.

The Draft on July 9 is going to be huge for the direction of this team as the Nats have the #2 overall pick and should get a franchise star.

I don’t expect much to happen at the trade deadline this year. At the end of game 162, I want to see progress at all levels. Could the Nats win 73 games in 2023? My projection is 65-67 wins We will see, and play the games!

Ray: There are at least three phases of a city’s baseball team on-field performance at any given time; Soaring, Ascending, and Descending.  Washington breaks the mold by having a fourth ignominious category; Without a franchise.  Thankfully, that last one is gone from the present.  Still, the sale of a team always brings such a thing back into consciousness, however slightly. Losing 107 games would pale by comparison.  The biggest prize available this year would be a return of stability to the ownership situation with the franchise.   The division is a shark tank.  In order for the team to thrive within it there is no way around having determined and committed ownership leading it.

As for the team, the overarching goal is to exit the “Descending” category at last.   The hangover from the 2019 World Series is long over.  That team was the oldest ever to win the title.  It also escaped from death-trap two-run deficits in the seventh inning on five occasions in elimination games.  Dances on rainbows typically don’t last long.  This was no exception.  The dismantling was no less dramatic than the tactical implosions of old stadiums.  Enter kids in abundance thrown against the wall to see which ones would stick.  It was baseball’s equivalent of sausage making: Something best observed from afar and casually.

2023 should mark the start of the long climb upwards.  There are no bones being made that “Soaring” is anywhere on the radar screen.  Just the notion of upward movement is enough…for now.  This team won’t demand attention.  It will invite it, however.   That in and of itself is a big step.

Sao: The fun stuff is going to be the stuff we don’t expect, because let’s face it, we all expect this team to be really bad and hard to watch. We were really bad and hard to watch in 2022, too, but what we didn’t expect was some dude named Joey Meneses was going to absolutely go off as a 30-year-old rookie. We didn’t expect Juan Soto and Josh Bell were going to be traded for a bouquet of high-end prospects, including MLB-ready CJ Abrams and MacKenzie Gore. We didn’t expect our bullpen was actually going to be…kinda good?

There will be surprises in 2023, because it’s baseball. Sure, some of them will be unpleasant surprises, but since so much of what we’re already expecting is bad, it stands to reason that much of what surprises us will be good. (Knock on wood.)

Beyond the results we see from the Nats themselves, one of the biggest storylines this season is going to be how our prospects progress. Robert Hassell III is likely in line to make his major league debut at some point this year; can he shake off his hamate injury and surgery last year and get back to being a dude? What about Brady House, who started red-hot before a back injury tanked his 2022 campaign? How far can James Wood, tipped by some to be next winter’s No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, ascend after finishing last season at Low-A Fredericksburg? Jarlin Susana seems to be on the brink of a major breakout, if he can put all the pieces together. The list goes on: Zach Brzykcy, Jackson Rutledge, Andry Lara, T.J. White, Jeremy De La Rosa, Cristhian Vaquero, Jake Bennett, and more. Many will fall, in all likelihood. But who will rise?

Your Turn

So what are you looking forward to for the Nats in 2023.

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