By now, everyone knows that the Nationals are the defending NL East Champions. They are considered by many to be the a top 2013 World Series contender and to be very competitive for years to come. What have the Nationals built puts them among the best organizations in baseball.

I asked Jim Duquette, co-host of "Power Alley" on Sirius XM's MLB Network Radio, about the Nationals. He should know a little about franchise-building, having served as the general manager of the New York Mets and an executive with the Baltimore Orioles.

What has been the secret to the Nationals success?

Duquette » "Let's start with the organization and ownership. The Lerner family has invested wisely in building an outstanding farm system so that the Nationals can develop their own players. Meanwhile, they have not been shy about spending money on free agents that compliment the team. General Manager Mike Rizzo has put together a fine group of scouts and baseball develop personnel. There is no secret to building a winning team. It takes patience and wise moves by the front office with support of ownership. The Nationals' patience has paid off and now they are a force."

What makes the Nationals a World Series contender?

Duquette » "The depth of the team is huge. This is a team with a great starting rotation led by Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. With the addition of closer Rafael Soriano, the bullpen is stronger. You have Bryce Harper for a full year, Adam LaRoche is back and they added Denard Span as their leadoff hitter and center fielder. The Nationals took a good team and made it better."

Is there someone on the team that is your surprise player?

Duquette » "There are two, and we will start with Ross Detwiler. With all the power arms on the staff, I really like what Ross does with his change of speed pitches and his ability to keep batters off-balance. I would not be surprised at all if he won 15 games this season. The other player is catcher Wilson Ramos, who is coming back from injury. I have seen him, and he is playing very well and showing no signs of his knee surgery. So I expect him to get his timing down, to get his hitting stroke back, and then he will be where he wants to be."

Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @wordmandc.