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Sports Illustrated predicts the Nationals will beat the Yankees in the World Series

Max Scherzer at spring training. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Sports Illustrated predicts the Nationals will get over their proverbial hump in the National League Division Series and then ride that momentum, or perhaps actual camels, to the team’s first World Series title over the New York Yankees in 2018.

If this all sounds familiar, it might be because it’s the fourth time since 2013 that Sports Illustrated has picked the Nationals to win the National League pennant and the third time the magazine has predicted the Nationals to win the title. Washington, of course, is still looking for its first playoff series win in team history.

If you’re the superstitious type, take heart in knowing that it would appear no Nationals player is in danger of succumbing to the magazine’s infamous cover jinx. SI’s MLB preview issue features two covers, one with the Angels’ Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, and the other with the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

After winning 97 games in 2017 and losing in the fifth game of the NLDS for a second consecutive season, the Nationals are the favorites to win their third consecutive NL East division title.

“This year’s Washington team has a good chance to be even better,” SI’s Dan Gartland writes. “Adam Eaton, last winter’s big acquisition, is back after tearing his ACL in April and should be an upgrade over Jayson Werth in left field. Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler, acquired midway through last season to prop up the perpetually beleaguered Nats bullpen, will have a chance to make a greater impact in a full season. Washington also solidified the back of the rotation by adding Jeremy Hellickson.”

You could get great odds on Hellickson winning World Series MVP now.

In 2013, Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine were among the publications that picked the Nats to win the city’s first World Series since 1924. Despite “World Series or bust” talk from Manager Davey Johnson during spring training, Washington failed to make the playoffs. That didn’t deter Sports Illustrated from picking the Nats to win the World Series the following year. The Giants ended Washington’s season in the NLDS in four games. Most recently, SI predicted Washington to reach the World Series in 2015 before losing to the Indians. That was the last year the Nats didn’t make the postseason.

Nationals confront their proverbial hump — with actual camels

So, should you worry about a jinx? Let’s just say it’s unlikely the Yankees’ visit Nationals Park on May 15 and 16 will be a World Series preview. Since 2012, Sports Illustrated has correctly predicted two of the 12 World Series participants, including the Dodgers last season, and it’s yet to nail the winner. They’ve gotta be right, especially about the Nationals, one of these years.

World Series Since 2012
SI Pick: Dodgers over Indians
Actual: Astros over Dodgers

SI Pick: Astros over Cubs
Actual: Cubs over Indians

SI Pick: Indians over Nationals
Actual: Royals over Mets

SI Pick: Nationals over A’s
Actual: Giants over Royals

SI Pick: Nationals over Rays
Actual: Red Sox over Cardinals

SI Pick: Angels over Giants
Actual: Giants over Tigers

Read more on the Nationals:

Never a doubt: Nats name Max Scherzer their Opening Day starter

‘First spring break of my life’: Jayson Werth, still unemployed, takes in son’s ballgame

Nats extend play-by-play partnership with 106.7 the Fan through 2022

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