The 10 Most Anticipated Baseball Stories of the Summer

2. Are the Orioles and Nats for Real?

As of this writing, the O's and Nats are both in first place in their divisions, leading to hopes of a B-W Parkway Series come October (they'll probably want to work on a better name). The Nationals have done it despite a rash of injuries, including to franchise player Ryan Zimmerman and to last year's free agent pick-up Jayson Werth, the latter of which "necessitated" the call-up of all-everything prospect Bryce Harper. The Orioles have done it despite playing in the AL East and despite being the Orioles.

The Complex Crystal Ball Says... No and yes. The Orioles could easily be out of first before the weekend is over (they're tied with Tampa at the moment, and on a five-game losing streak), and they're just too young and too not-good to keep up with the Rays, Yanks, and Red Sox (and probably not even the Blue Jays). Don't be at all surprised if Baltimore finishes the year where we thought they would-in last place.

As long as the Nats don't suffer any major injuries to their pitching staff, they should be playing meaningful games into September and beyond. Their starting rotation is five-deep with quality arms: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez (the NL's strikeout leader), Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler, and Edwin Jackson. Harper is in the majors to stay, and if Zimmerman, who's back from injury but struggling, can be the hitter he's been up to this point in his career, the Nats could assume favorite status in the NL.

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