With the Expos posting a 67-95 record in their last year before moving from Montreal to Washington, no one was expecting the Nationals to do so well their first year–they finished the season at 81-81. Standouts? Savvy manager Frank Robinson was the cornerstone. Closer Chad Cordero had a breakout season, notching 47 saves.
But the surprise of the year was rookie third-baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who played phenomenally in 20 games at the end of the season and, with starting third-baseman Vinny Castilla traded, will be a big asset for the Nats in 2006.
Now all the team needs is the right owner and a stadium made for baseball. The team has its work cut out for it–the National League East is the most competitive division in the majors. But whoever winds up owning the Nats already has solid pieces in place and some promising up-and-comers. For the capital's baseball fans, opening day can't come soon enough.
Washingtonian staffers contributing to this section were Cristina Abello, Susan Baer, Susan Davidson, Ken DeCell, Rebecca Dreilinger, Kim Isaac Eisler, Mary Clare Fleury, Kimberly Forrest, Brooke Lea Foster, Garrett M. Graff, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, Aparna Nancherla, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Chris Wilson. Also contributing were Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Matthew Graham.