Nats are NL's World Series favorite

Stout staff and opponents' flaws position Washington for deep October run

Updated: August 22, 2014, 12:19 PM ET
By Mike Petriello | ESPN Insider

Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmerman & Stephen StrasburgGetty ImagesDoug Fister, Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg give the Nats a major postseason advantage.

Even before the Washington Nationals ripped off 10 wins in a row and counting, they were extremely well-positioned to win the NL East, if only due to the lack of competition. The Mets, Phillies and Marlins aren't serious contenders this season, and the Braves have played losing baseball (50-54) for months since getting off to a 17-7 start. Before their winning streak started, FanGraphs had the Nationals' odds of winning the division at 92.4 percent. Now it's 98.2 percent. Barring a calamitous collapse, this race is over.

Of course, the Nationals don't have their goals set simply on a division title. After bowing out in the first round of the 2012 playoffs and missing October entirely in 2013, their mandate is to win the World Series -- and it might be the best-positioned National League team to get there. Here's why.