Nats could make strides

After a 34-year hiatus, Major League Baseball has finally returned to our nation’s capital. No more voyages to Camden Yards to half-heartedly root on the “almost home” Baltimore Orioles. In the recently completed 2005 season, Washington had an inauguration of another sort. The Washington Nationals are here.

Formerly the Expos of Montreal, the Nationals marched through ups and downs throughout the summer, raising the eyebrows of many baseball fans on their way to a season record of 81-81.

The standings show the Nationals were at the bottom of the National League East totem pole, but the NL East is undoubtedly the toughest division in all of baseball. That fact is hard to deny when it is factored in that the Nationals finished with a winning percentage of .500. A last place team.

After a surprisingly successful first half of the season, leading the division for a little stint, the Nationals sent two players-pitchers Livian Hernandez and Chad Cordero- to the all-star game in Detroit.

A second half meltdown ended playoff hopes, but showed the potential for the young team to work its way into a perennial powerhouse in the division and league.

A few improvements need to occur for the eventual takeover of the 14-time consecutive division champion, Atlanta Braves.

Consistency and leadership is key on the young team, as they look to the always threatening, and major league leading, Cordero and his 47 saves to finish the tough close games that at one segment of the season were the Nationals strong point. They will need Hernandez to contribute and add on to his 15 victories for the season.

Young pitcher John Patterson will need to maintain or lower his team-leading 3.13 season earned run average.

They will need the bats to come alive as well. First baseman, Nick Johnson led the team this past season with his .289 batting average, but this is not nearly enough for a potential playoff contender.

Outfielder, Brad Wilkerson finished the season seventh in the NL in doubles and triples, but only managed a .248 batting average for the season. Watch out for big bats to come from Jose Guillen and sophomore Ryan Church.

For the upcoming season, look forward to seeing the Nationals being extra competitive in their division, with the support of the best fans in the world.

Reginald Snowden is a sophomore journalism student from Washington.