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Power Rankings: Jump on the Nats' bandwagon while there's room

by | CBSSports.com Baseball Blogger
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Happy days: Gio Gonzalez and the Nats' starters enter Wednesday with a 1.69 ERA. (AP)  
Happy days: Gio Gonzalez and the Nats' starters enter Wednesday with a 1.69 ERA. (AP)  

The Washington Nationals are 9-3.

Read that again.

Yes sir, there's great baseball being played in Washington. The best the Nats have ever started through 12 games was 8-4 in 2005. The last time the franchise started this well was all the way back in 1981, when the Montreal Expos stormed out of the gates to a 10-2 mark. But that wasn't in Washington. The last time a Washington franchise was 9-3 was the 1951 Senators (uh, they finished 62-92).

Could this be too good to be true? Not really. I mean, obviously the Nationals aren't going to play .750 baseball all season. No one is, because that would be a 122-40 record. But there are reasons to believe the Nationals aren't blatantly overachieving.

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First of all, they're doing this without Michael Morse. He led the Nats last season in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage (obviously OPS and OPS-plus, too) and WAR among position players.

Closer Drew Storen is also on the shelf. The Nats have four saves in five chances so far, sure, but they're using their normal seventh-inning tandem in the ninth. So it's an issue of depth.

Yes, some of the guys off to really hot starts will come back to Earth. Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman are going to hit better, though, and they've already started to come around to different degrees. Don't discount swagger either. This is an up-and-coming team that has never won together ... until now. That changes things, whether the number crunchers want to admit it or not, in a mental game like baseball.

And did I mention a possible promotion of Bryce Harper at some point?

Simply: If you're a Nationals fan and you aren't excited, you don't have a pulse.

As always, these are not the standings. And as always, stats, comments and rankings are through Tuesday night.

RANK TEAM MOVE (LW)
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