Originally written on The Nats Blog  |  Last updated 11/18/14

When the season began, Washington Nationals fans had a set of expectations. Those expectations varied as much as the people who had them, but it is safe to say that most fans were happy at the idea of a record above .500 for the 2012 campaign before the season began. On July 26, after 97 games, that’s no longer the case. Nats fans expect more now. They expect to win something big.

In the preseason, I said the Nationals would finish third in the National League East entering this season, behind the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves. The Phillies haven’t worked out very well so far this year and are in last place in the division and 14 games back. The Miami Marlins, who many expected to finish in first in the East, are 13.5 games back and in fourth place.

The Nats, though, behind exceptional pitching and a quickly improving offense, have showed people across the baseball universe that simply finishing over .500 isn’t going to be enough for them. At 58-39, the Nats are 19 games over the .500 mark, which is the first time that’s happened since July 5, 2005. Most everyone agrees that this team is way, way better than that team. The team is younger, more vibrant, and less vulnerable to a collapse down the stretch.

Nats pitchers still have the best ERA in the NL, and they don’t strand nearly as many base runners as they did earlier in the season. Maybe even more important than that, this team believes it can win. Whether it’s the budding relationship between Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, or the camaraderie that the hitters have amongst themselves, there’s a different feel when you watch this team. You get the feeling they’re going to win, even when things are going poorly.

Just one more win this year will tie the 2008 and 2009 win totals (59), and it’s not even August yet. This team, and its fans, have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. The season isn’t over yet; there is a lot of baseball yet to play. But it’s time to get excited about what you’re seeing. It’s about being excited about watching a team that has a chance to win every single game. For baseball fans in DC that have been starved for good baseball, what else can you ask for?

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Is Rampage Jackson heading back to the UFC?

WATCH: DeSean Jackson mocks Eagles after win

Michael Vick: Jameis Winston is the future of the NFL

Report: No NFL team is moving to Los Angeles in 2015

Report: 49ers looking for young, offensive mind as next coach

Sheldon Richardson: I'm on the same level as JJ Watt

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Kendrick Perkins: Rajon Rondo wanted out of Boston

Report: Jim Harbaugh being encouraged to take Michigan job

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Wolves trade Corey Brewer to the Rockets

Yankees trade Prado to Marlins for Eovaldi in 5-player deal

Brandon Browner fined $8K for throwing Brandon Gibson to turf

Mick Cronin misses game with unruptured aneurism

Steve Alford: Kentucky is best team I've coached against

Peyton Siva jokes that Rick Pitino is in the mob

WATCH: Montrezl Harrell ejected for throwing punch

UNC wearing Jordan-era throwback uniforms

Brian Kelly: Justin Brent gets 'distracted,' is in my doghouse

Five free agent signings that should happen in 2015

Reporter asks Rajon Rondo awkward question about trade

Video: Swaggy P elbows Steven Adams in throat, gets ejected

Video: Grizzlies buy car for assistant who had his stolen

Video: LeBron takes pass to the face from Dion Waiters

New video of Ray Rice incident emerges

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

WATCH: DeSean mocks Eagles

Vick: Winston is the future of the NFL

No NFL team in LA next season?

UNC rocking Jordan-era throwbacks

Reporter asks Rondo awkward question

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Jon Lester and the Cubs

Report: NFL players used 'horny juice'

Top 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

Phelps gets probation for DUI

NFL coaches on hot seat in Week 16

The Roy Williams-Terrell Owens horse collar turns 10

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.