Friday, October 14, 2011

Are the Nationals Contenders?

In my opinion the Nationals will be contending for the Wild Card. The Phillies will take first place even though Ryan Howard will be out the first month or two. But before the Nationals can contend they have to complete the team. They have a top notch bullpen so they won't have to worry about relivers. They have a great infield. Ryan Zimmerman is by far their best player. He hits for a high average and hits for power. Due to injury he saw limited playing time this year, but managed to produce when he played. Danny Espinosa really showed his power this season with 21 homeruns and 29 doubles. His average wasn't great, but he just needs a little more plate discipline which should come with experience. But he really showed off with his glove this season. If Brandon Phillips wasn't in the National League, Espinosa would win the Gold Glove. Ian Desmond, the National's shortstop, started to show power in September, which will really help the leadoff postition. His speed and contact already make him a good leadoff man, but with power he'll be ideal. Desmond just needs a little work on defence. First baseman Adam Laroche had his season end at the very beginning of the season, but the Nationals signed him for his glove and his production. Adam LaRoche has had limted playing time for most of his career, but when he was giving full playing time he rewarded his team with a good batting average and 25 homeruns and 100 RBIs. His glove is where he truely shines though. He has Gold Glove caliber defence that can be compare to Carlos Pena, a former Gold Glover. Wilson Ramos was a very pleasant surprise this year. He showed he was a clutch player when the game was on the line. He's proven to be an everyday catcher even at his young age. I have to give credit to Ivan Rodrigez for helping move him along, because Pudge is one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game. The outfield has two great contributers in Michael Morse and Jayson Werth. Werth didn't produce offencively like he should have, but he never lost his glove. Werth, like Carl Crawford, is going through a transition into a new team. Werth will produce in 2012 and beyond. Michael Morse was the biggest surprise. He showed if given full playing time he will produce. Morse hit a .303 batting average and 31 homeruns. He can play left field and first base, but can play right to fill the posistion. For Center Field they could use Rick Ankiel at the beginning of the season. Ankiel wants to be back in Washington so that helps. He has a great glove and a rocket arm. He's just lacking at the plate. He's got the power he just has poor plate discipline. If they bring him back as their starting center fielder then he'll have to work hard to get his swing back. But Bryce Harper should be ready mid-season, maybe before. When Harper comes up then Werth can move to center and that will solve their center field problem.
The lineup with Rick Ankiel
  1. Ian Desmond               .253/65/148/27/5/08/49/25
  2. Rick Ankiel                 .239/46/091/20/0/09/37/10
  3. Ryan Zimmerman       .307/85/161/32/0/25/85/4 (2010)
  4. Michael Morse            .303/73/158/36/0/31/95/2
  5. Jayson Werth              .232/69/130/26/1/20/58/19
  6. Adam LaRoche           .261/75/146/37/2/25/100/0 (2010)
  7. Danny Espinosa          .236/72/135/29/5/21/66/17
  8. Wilson Ramos            .267/48/104/22/1/15/52/0
  9. Pitcher
That's a good lineup. Now let's add Bryce Harper.
  1. Ian Desmond             .253/65/148/27/5/08/49/25
  2. Jayson Werth            .232/69/130/26/1/20/58/19
  3. Ryan Zimmerman    .307/85/161/32/0/25/85/4
  4. Michael Morse         .303/73/158/36/0/31/96/2
  5. Adam LaRoche        .261/75/146/37/2/25/100/0 (2010)
  6. Bryce Harper           .306/75/137/27/3/23/82/29 (AA-A-AFL)
  7. Danny Espinosa       .236/72/135/29/5/21/66/17
  8. Wilson Ramos         .267/48/104/22/1/16/52/0
  9. Pitcher
If they had that lineup I think they'd be able to grab the wild card. Plus you add Jesus Flores, who tore up the Winter League, they have a great back up catcher too. That's a top notch offence.
The rotation would look like this.
  1. Stephen Strasberg (On limited Innings)
  2. Gio Gonzalez
  3. Jordan Zimmerman
  4. Edwin Jackson
  5. Chien-Ming Wang/John Lannen/Ross Detwiler
That's a rotation that has the ability to shut down other teams. They have several options for their number 5 starter, plus guys to cover Stephen Strasberg after he comes to his innings limit. Then you throw in the bullpen and you have contending pitching. If they do take the Wild Card, they should bring back Strasberg. He will be rested enough for only about ten games max.
So they are a playoff team. Will they be in 2012? I think so, but they could have to wait until 2013.

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