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  1. HF Test1383.07:42:57.0441660
Power rankings: Nationals near unanimous choice at No. 1
Updated 9/23/2012 11:58 PM ET
(USA) Rankings on a 30-29-28-etc. basis by 11 USA TODAY Sports writers and editors. Comments by Paul White. Stats through Sunday. First-place votes in parentheses.
Posted 9/23/2012 11:26 PM ET
Updated 9/23/2012 11:58 PM ET
Fan holds a sign in support of the team after the Nationals clinched a wild card spot.
Joy R. Absalon, US PRESSWIRE
Fan holds a sign in support of the team after the Nationals clinched a wild card spot.
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Last week: 1
Total points: 328
It's the bullpen, not the rotation, that could decide their playoff fate. (10 first-place votes)
Last week: 3
Total points: 308
Bid for NL's best record worth it to avoid San Francisco pitching staff. (1 first-place vote)
Last week: 2
Total points: 313
Yu Darvish could be poised to playoff monster.
Last week: 6
Total points: 290
34-20 since Marco Scutaro came to town -- Melky who?
Last week: 7
Total points: 284
Finish season against three of four worst teams in AL.
Last week: T-4
Total points: 270
First in West or out of playoffs? This week vs. Rangers could provide answer.
Last week: T-4
Total points: 268
Whether they survive wild-card game could be key to NL playoffs.
Last week: 8
Total points: 268
We're waiting -- Dylan Bundy's going to make an impact somewhere.
Last week: 9
Total points: 242
Best starting pitching over past month is best reason for hope.
Last week: 11
Total points: 220
Of course the final 3 games with Baltimore will mean something -- it's what they do.
Last week: 10
Total points: 218
Under .200 with runners in scoring position for nearly three weeks now.
Last week: 12
Total points: 209
Same stars can't do it all -- where are role players this year?
Last week: 13
Total points: 204
Allen Craig tops Albert Pujols in on-base, slugging and runs created per 27 outs.
Last week: 14
Total points: 185
Plug your ears Dodgers fans -- they'll be real good next year.
Last week: 15
Total points: 183
Final six at home against Astros and Padres.
Last week: 17
Total points: 163
Nationals clinching in Philadelphia this week would be final dagger.
Last week: 18
Total points: 153
Wade Miley's Rookie of the Year run about all that's left.
Last week: 16
Total points: 143
Have Navy SEALs work with minor leaguers; can they find and rescue major league team?
Last week: 19
Total points: 134
Have they really seen enough to build without trading Felix Hernandez?
Last week: 20
Total points: 111
No team in this neighborhood has more young talent to be excited about.
Last week: 21
Total points: 105
OK, next year's the breakout year -- we really mean it this time.
Last week: T-23
Total points: 98
Not likely they can wipe out Yunel Escobar's final year with eye black.
Last week: 22
Total points: 94
Long second-half reminder that rebuilding is a long process.
Last week: T-23
Total points: 92
Only remaining suspense -- what happens when Bobby Valentine lifts Alfredo Aceves.
Last week: 25
Total points: 65
You just know ownership's going to claim some victims for this.
Last week: 26
Total points: 52
Exactly what decision has gone right over the past couple of years?
Last week: 27
Total points: 48
This Justin Morneau and this Joe Mauer are their future -- get used to it.
Last week: 28
Total points: 28
How far from awful will healthy Troy Tulowitzki make them?
Last week: 29
Total points: 28
There's talent here but mental mistakes still a Cubs tradition.
Last week: 30
Total points: 11
Can they show the patience the front office needs to fix this mess?

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