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Nats predicted champs while Strasburg snags SI cover

Wednesday - 3/27/2013, 12:59pm  ET

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''Sports Illustrated'' is featuring Stephen Strasburg on the cover of its latest issue. (Courtesy SI.com)

The Nats enter the season with high expectations

Andrew Mollenbeck, WTOP

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WASHINGTON - It's a lofty prediction that excites some fans and worries others it's jinxing the season. "Sports Illustrated" is picking the Nationals as the favorite for the World Series.

The Nats' official blog says the team is honored but says "considering the inaccuracy of such exercises, it's good to take any such honor with a grain of salt."

The big question for superstitious fans is, will this prediction be a cloud over the Nationals season? The so-called SI cover jinx has been widely feared by fans for years. The magazine does seem to have a history of naming teams or players to have a great season, only to see their performances falls flat.

The magazine even launched its own investigation into its jinxing powers in 2002.

The April issue calls Nationals' Stephen Strasburg "Mr. October" and depicts Washington's favorite pitcher throwing a fast ball through a pane of glass. Strasburg is one of six players chosen to grace the cover. Each region has a different cover boy.

Other players are David Price, Justin Verlander, C.C. Sabathia, James Shields and Clayton Kershaw.

"Sports Illustrated" writer Tom Verducci explains he chose the Nationals as the favorite in the World Series after looking at one of Manager Davey Johnson's former teams.

"Like the '86 Mets, the 2013 Nationals are the best team on paper at the start of the season. And like that championship team, Washington has young power pitching, a deep bullpen with multiple closers, a blend of power and speed, and an unmistakable swagger," Verducci writes in an excerpt in the article released by the magazine.

As baseball season rapidly approaches, the magazine's prediction is just the thing to get Nationals fans excited about the already hyped season. Now, there's even more to be excited about.

The issue features scouting reports with standings and playoff predictions.

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