(Christopher Pasatieri/GETTY IMAGES)

“Winning the pennant. Winning the National League,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t have said that last spring. I didn’t think the talent was ready. After being there and seeing the progress that some young players made, I think we definitely can contend. I would be sorely disappointed if we didn’t do just that. The talent is there.

“I like the way we stack up against everybody in our division. I’m not just sticking out my chest and saying some hot air. My baseball instincts tell me that’s where we need to be, that’s where we need to go. And we can get there.”

The Nationals finished 80-81 last season, including 14-4 over their final 18 games, best in the major leagues over that span. They finished with their best record since 2005 despite Ryan Zimmerman missing two months, Stephen Strasburg making only a handful of starts after returning from Tommy John surgery and Jayson Werth flopping in the first half.

What do you think? Is Johnson being realistic, or setting his sights too high on Oct. 31?