Perspective | After winning the World Series, the Nationals see everything differently

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<pre><pre>Perspective | After winning the World Series, the Nationals see everything differently

During the whole weekend more than 10,000 people were walking around the stadium every day, queuing up to take photos and talking to the players or simply buying another souvenir with the "World Series Champions 2019", the joy, the surprise and that Pleasure see and hear the relief everywhere.

"I'm still pinching myself," said a fan to a buddy. Nearby, a fan had adjusted his # 31 jersey to replace "Scherzer" with "Blue Eye". Why blue? Because D.C. has reached the point where baseball fans know which eye Mad Max (jokingly) claims for himself and which is his normal, joking, optimistic attitude.

The context is always important. So far, every FanFest has come after a year in which the Nats stank when they first came to DC or had an aftertaste of disappointment since becoming a contender in 2012. Well, it's all upside down.

"Now we can look at each other and know that we can rely on each other," said Scherzer, referring to both seasonal slumps and post-season pressure. "We are a number of winners."

Stephen Strasburg, World Series MVP, was overwhelmed by the response he received – orders of magnitude higher than "good game".

"You don't understand the implications … especially in a city like this [long without a title]"Said Strasburg." Random places, people shake my hand and say "thank you". "

"Aníbal Sánchez has already given me two hugs that were uncomfortably long," said Strasburg with a laugh.

Despite all the good mood, Rendon is the gigantic "ant" in the room. "Losing him, just his presence, really changes the dynamic for us," said Sean Doolittle. "We did a good job to start with, but we will definitely miss him.

"Fortunately, he signed in the American League – and the AL West too," added Doolittle. "I texted him to say that I really, really appreciate it – without having to look at him."

Not only has the Nats lost Rendon, it is now clear that after a flood of free agent signings, they have neither the payroll nor the game time to sign star free agent Josh Donaldson as a third party. They waited for a "yes" and then went on. The Nats will continue to light up the glow of their $ 100 million offer so that the rivals bid as high as possible to land it.

"We don't see [third base] as a hole, ”said general manager Mike Rizzo this weekend. "We see it as a strength."

Since Rendon is gone and Donaldson is not coming, the Nats have to wait for three players to partially fill the gap at Rendon: shortstop Trea Turner, Starlin Castro and top rookie Carter Kieboom. Not everyone has to click, but one or two have to produce better if the Nats are to achieve what they see as a reasonable internal goal for 2020: 91 wins. Give or take five.

"I have 10 fingers again," said Turner, who had to undergo surgery to remove a bone spur from the ankle of his right index finger and relieve a tendon scar without interfering with his movement.

In the last 130 games, Turner could not open a drink with his right hand. A little diving, stumbling at the short stop made him very painful. But when it comes to hitting and throwing, he says the finger wasn't a problem at all – "no excuses." Oh, sure. I bet these check swings felt great.

Turner is now thanking his surgeon, Michelle Carlson, for using the new, advanced 3D imaging to discover the hidden bone spur that was not visible using other methods. He was even woken up in the middle of the operation to make sure he could move his finger. Yes, a delicate, disturbing injury.

“It would have been a big deal to do something better. It's two or three times better than it was, "said Turner, adding, as with any serious injury," it will never be 100 percent. "

If Turner had completed 150 games at his 2019 pace (he played 162 in 2018), he would have deleted 46 doubles, 23 homers, 43 steals and .298 / .353 / 497. This is number 3. Turner knows. Could he move to his buddy Rendon's old shop?

Turner knows his value as a leader, but he also realizes that the Nats would be better off keeping Juan Soto clean up with essentially the same hits as he did last year when he bloomed. Turner believes he has improved his handling of off-speed pitches over the past year, a need for middle-class players. So he would be a game if asked.

Another potential attack spurt could come from Castro, who has had an on-base plus slugging percentage of 914 in his last 78 games with 17 homers and 53 RBI after opening his stance and moving to a pull-hitting flyball style had changed – similar to the starting angle theories of Daniel Murphy, Howie Kendrick and Kurt Suzuki, who improved enormously as a batsman towards the end of their careers.

Usually, you would discount a veteran's hot half-season. But Castro has always been a special talent that never seemed to blossom as a batsman. Only 28 players had more than Castro's 1,614 goals before the age of 30 – and 25 of them are in the Hall of Fame or will one day.

Castro is far from this type of Cooperstown trajectory. But what if he pulls a Murphy? "I hit too many groundballs. , , , So I opened my forefoot, ”Castro said last week. "I'll just try to hit the ball in the air. , , , Okay, let's pull, start from the angle and see what happens. , , , Great results. “Castro's pull percentage and hard hit percentage jumped instantly.

"And he just moved his left foot [a couple of inches]"Said Rizzo, demonstrating and shaking his head, what a difference it could have made. Could Castro, who always kills Southpaws, be a # 2 hitter against lefties? Without Rendon, the Nats need every such edge.

Kieboom, 22, says he has added almost £ 20 since last season. You cannot project a player's mature strength until you see it. Some players never fill out. Kieboom already designed as a 25 Homer type.

A month before the pitcher and catcher report, you can always expect happy news from the players, such as that Scherzer "recovers" after injuries in the off-season and feels so good in his throwing program that he expects spring training with to achieve "full power".

Any previous Nats FanFest may have had a gray winter cloud of skepticism. Talent, yes. But how far can you trust them?

Now it looks different.

"Once you learn to roll more with it and enjoy it more in the playoffs and think that it's not the end of the world," said Strasburg, "you feel like you're doing it [it] good every year. "

Maybe like this. Baseball champions have earned their winter sun.

More information from Thomas Boswell can be found at washingtonpost.com/boswell.

Read more from Thomas Boswell

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