Maybe it's providence.
Entering this weekend, the Nationals were 20 games over .500, tied with the Yankees for the best record in baseball. You have to go back to 1945 to find Washington's last ballclub to be 20 games over .500. Those Washington Senators finished 87-67 (it was a 154-game schedule back then), just a game-and-a-half behind the pennant-winning Tigers.
There was no divisional play or wild card back then, so the Senators just went home in October. The current Nats, however, look like a lock to make the postseason with 60 games left to play. If they only play .500 baseball from this point, they'll still wind up with 90 wins, which should be enough for a wild-card berth.
I know, I know, don't count your chickens. Here's where providence enters the picture.
How many contenders lose so many key players to injury over the course of a season and really never miss a beat?
Closer Drew Storen missed the entire first half of the season after elbow surgery. Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez struggled but still convert 11 of 16 save opportunities before Tyler Clippard took over the role.
Last season's offensive leader Michael Morse (.303 batting average, 31 home runs, 95 RBIs) missed the first two months of the season with a strained lat muscle. While he was out, outfielder Jayson Werth went down with a broken wrist after getting off to a solid start. In their places came 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper, Steve Lombardozzi, Roger Bernadina and Tyler Moore. Harper became an everyday guy, playing center and right, while the other three took turns in left and center and Moore occasionally at first.
When Ryan Zimmerman hit the DL in late April, Lombardozzi and bench guy Chad Tracy picked up the slack at third. When Tracy got hurt in late May, Bernadina displayed some unexpected pinch-hitting abilities.
Catcher Wilson Ramos was lost for the season in mid-May, and Jesus Flores has got the job done, with backup from Jhonatan Solano, Carlos Maldonado and Sandy Leon -- though each of those three have also gone down with injuries at some point, and Flores is looking a little beat up at the moment.
More recently, everyday shortstop Ian Desmond -- a major run producer this season -- suffered a torn left oblique and went on the DL. Danny Espinosa has moved over from second base, just as Espinosa's bat has heated up. Lombardozzi has played second base -- his natural position. No sweat.
The solid start by John Lannan against Atlanta on July 21 was the final indicator to prove that something remarkable is going on this season. Stephen Strasburg has an innings limit? No problem. There's enough depth to pick up those innings and in the postseason you don't need five starters.
Whether the Nationals can carry this success through to the ultimate prize is still to be seen. What's fairly clear is that they'll actually have the opportunity to do it.
Providence: It's all too obvious.
Examiner columnist Phil Wood co-hosts the "Mid-Atlantic Sports Report" and is a regular contributor to "Nats Xtra" on MASN. Contact him at email@example.com.