The loss last night drops the Nats to last place in the NL East. While only 4 games under .500, it certainly feels like the Nats are drifting in the wrong direction. They may very well finish in the low-mid70s in wins, rather than challenge for .500. And you know what? I don't really care.
I don't care because of three things. Wilson Ramos. Jordan Zimmermann. Danny Espinosa.
The Nats needed young players to step up into holes at catcher, in the middle infield, and in the rotation and they have.
Wilson Ramos has lived up to his defensive reputation while providing average offense for a catcher. Recently he's shown that he can still be a power threat and earlier he had shown the ability to hit for good average. He may not ever combine both to become elite, but it's equally as doubtful he'll lose both abilities and become a liability at the plate. Wilson Ramos is 23 and under team control through 2015.
I was hoping Jordan Zimmermann would show himself to be a #3/#4 type pitcher in this recovery year, so he could possibly grow into something more. He's been doing much better than that. Ignore the last couple starts. That's just some hit and HR luck working against him, as it worked for him earlier in the year. He's still striking out a bunch and walking no one. (4th in K/BB ratio in the NL). Let's say he is the total pitcher he's shown up to this point. A 3.27 pitcher that's 5th in the league in WHIP? Who wouldn't take that right now? Jordan Zimmermann is 25 and under team control through 2015
Danny Espinosa is currently the 2nd best offensive 2nd baseman in the NL. Danny Espinosa is currently the second best defensive 2nd baseman in the NL. Danny Espinosa is 24 and under team control through 2016 I believe (it's hard for me to pin this one down)
Wilson Ramos has done exactly what Nats fans would have reasonably expected. Zimmermann and Espinosa have done better. Given that it's 2012, with Strasburg back in the rotation and Bryce in line for a call-up, that's the key season for making strides toward the playoffs, wins and losses this year are disappointing but not telling. They crossed their fingers and hoped for a young cheap core to come together in 2011 so they can build around it for the next few years. They've gotten it.