If you're searching for one word to describe the Nationals during the first three weeks of this season, "inconsistent" is probably the best choice.

One night, they look very much like the best team in baseball and certainly worthy of the preseason hype they received. The next, they look completely out of sync, unable to play clean ball and dropping games to lesser pitchers and opponents with far more frequency than you'd expect for a club with this much talent.

And yet the end result remains mildly positive: a 10-8 record good enough for second place in the NL East at the moment. Nobody wins a pennant in April. All you really need to do is stay in the thick of things and not dig yourself into a big hole.

So the Nationals are by no means a failure at this early stage of the season. They are, perhaps, a disappointment. And if you're wondering why that is, here are some possible reasons...

SLOPPY DEFENSE
What was touted as one of the best defensive teams in baseball has been anything but so far. The Nationals have been charged with an MLB-high 18 errors in 18 games, a staggering total for a club that should be winning games with its gloves, not losing them.

We've examined Ryan Zimmerman's throwing issue enough, so no need to rehash that. But what to make of Ian Desmond's struggles so far? The All-Star shortstop, a Gold Glove finalist one year ago, has already committed seven errors, most in the majors.