For the first time since the Nationals have moved to Washington, they are showing signs of stronger television ratings. No longer are the Nats last in baseball when comes to ratings as the combination of Stephen Strasburg and an improved team has shown a staggering increase of 139.3% in the ratings with an average 1.34 and they are up over 140% the number of households watching with an average of about 32,000 tuning the Nats on MASN and MASN2.

According to a comprehensive report from the Sports BusinessJournal and Sports Business Daily on local TV and radio ratings, the Nats are a team on the rise. Most of you will recall that in 2008 the Nationals were a league-worst in ratings getting only 8,000 households watching their games.

It would be easy to give credit to Stephen Strasburg who, since he has bolted on the scene, is a constant ratings-winner. Each time the young pitcher appears he delivers a solid 4.4 or better rating. But in fairness, the Nationals set the first of a number of team record-breaking ratings starting with a series against the Mets prior to Strasburg getting to town. The team’s 1.34 rating so far this season is higher than both the Angels (1.23 on FS West) and A’s (1.23 on CSN California).

But in a conversation with MASN spokesman Todd Webster, he confirmed that things began to look up for the Nats well before Strasburg hit the scene.

"The Nationals triple-digit ratings improvement this season began even before Stephen Strasburg's first start, as there were consecutive record-setting performances in early May. The team's early success is the most obvious factor, but with every game now televised in HD, with first-rate production, and some of the most compelling broadcasters in baseball, the network and the Nationals are continuing to grow.”

The Strasburg factor that has put the Nationals on ESPN, FOX, MLB Network and SportsCenter every night energized the base and more importantly introduced the team to the casual fan. There is a real baseball buzz, people want to know if Adam Dunn will stay a Nat.

This is like the early days of the Capitals with Alex Ovechkin when the casual fan began to follow the team — and as they improved, so did the crowds and the ratings. The baseball fans are in place and building ratings for the Nationals — but winning and being competitive is where the numbers at the gate and the number of households watching will really take off.