As the 2013 MLB season prepares to come to a close, Washingtonians can’t help but think about what could’ve been. Coming off of a 98 win season and a division championship, fans were expecting much of the same.
The only major personnel changes were as follows:
Left field: Bryce Harper replaces Michael Morse
Center field: Newcomer Denard Span replaces Bryce Harper
8th inning relief: Veteran reliever Tyler Clippard takes over 8th inning relief duties.
A great team that returned eight starters in the batting lineup and four starters in the pitching rotation shouldn’t lose a step, right?
Here’s what fans didn’t see coming.
When Drew Storen imploded on himself in the eighth inning of relief in the 2012 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, a piece of him was lost along with the 2012 season.
The young stud that closed out the 2012 season for the Nationals with a 3-1 record and 2.37 ERA would not be seen for much of the 2013 season.
After early struggles, the 25 year old reliever was sent down. A hot finish after being recalled allowed him to salvage his season, but he still finish with a career worst 4.52 ERA.
For whatever reason, the Nationals young second baseman didn’t show up to play in 2013. Coming off of a respectable 2012 campaign, hitting .247 with 17 home runs and 56 RBI, Espinosa never quite found his rhythm in 2013–batting .158 with just three home runs and 12 RBI. He was relieved of duty and optioned to AAA Syracuse after just 44 games.
Edwin Jackson/Dan Haren
Nationals fans were ecstatic when newcomer Dan Haren replaced Edwin Jackson at the four spot in the starting pitching rotation. It took just one start for them to be begging for Jackson’s return. The 3-0 Nationals, coming off of an opening series sweep of the Miami Marlins, prepared to face off against the Cincinnati Reds with Haren making his debut.
He lasted just 4.0 innings, allowing six runs on nine hits, on the way to a 15-0 rout, and his first of many losses as a Nat. He finished the season with a 10-14 record and a 4.67 ERA.
Don’t blink, you are reading this right. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is a reliable player that has been near and dear to the heart of every Washington Nationals fan over the past decade. That being said, his 2013 digression is undeniable.
The 29 year old committed 21 errors, third worst in the National League, mostly on throwing errors to first base. The shoulder issues that plagued Zimmerman throughout the offseason were clearly never resolved, and perhaps Davey Johnson could’ve done something to take some pressure off of him– more days off, working in at other positions, etc.
Anyone individual that thinks they’re too big for their britches is destined to fail. Washington Nationals fans were buying World Series tickets before the season had even started. Perhaps next season, Nationals’ players and fans will take a lesson from the current National league champions, St. Louis Cardinals, and practice a little humility.