The Nats' season ended on Sunday with a bang following a long whimper of a season. In beating the Braves in extra innings, the Nats became the first team in baseball history to close with a 7-game winning streak after having started with a 7-game losing streak.
Progress? Perhaps. But it's certainly not anything they'll want to raise a banner for.
It truly was a disappointing year. Nobody expected a World Series -- or even a Wild Card -- but fans certainly wanted to be within spitting distance of .500. They weren't even in spitting distance of .400, finishing at .364 with a 59-103 record.
Oddly, for all the talk mid-season about how the Nats were on pace to best the '62 Mets as the worst team of modern time, their second-half surge (if you can call .440 a surge) brought them to merely terrible, exactly tied with last year's 59-win mark.
Despite the lost season, there are actually a few things to be positive about.
Ryan Zimmerman emerged as a force when his bat caught up to his glove. He's not a serious candidate to win the award, but you can make a serious argument for him to finish fourth or fifth in the NL MVP voting.
Adam Dunn demonstrated his prodigious power, putting up one of the best seasons in his career and adapting passably to his new position, first base.
Elijah Dukes showed maturity in coming back from a demotion to the minors, battling through injuries. Despite a dip in his power, he showed a strong batting eye and has proven to be a solid citizen in his time here.
John Lannan continued to tell K-minded statheads to screw off, pitching capably thanks to solid command, and a willingness to never give in to opposing batters.
Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett and Jason Bergmann demonstrated that they're likely to be solid middle relievers, giving the Nats some flexibility by stabilizing the back half of the pen, freeing the team to focus on the 8th and 9th innings.
Sure, there were a lot of junky players on the team, including some who played key roles in the "surge," but there's a core of talent around it.
Now it's up to GM Mike Rizzo and owner Ted Lerner to identify and purchase the pieces around these guys. Who knows? Maybe .500 is right around the corner. A fan can dream, can't he?