First Time Look at the Nationals

Manager -Jim Riggleman

Manager - John McLaren

Manager - Old Friend Davey Johnson

Outlook:  The Nationals are only two games under .500 fueled by a June record of  17 - 10. They are treading water in July at 8 - 9.  If the Nationals can finish around .500 it will be a huge achievement considering that the large expenditures on Werth / LaRoche have basically been worthless, the huge mistake in trading Nyjer Morgan, the injury to Ryan Zimmerman, and the dismal sophomore play of Ian Desmond.  This team has a very bright future with the best position prospect in baseball getting ready to help in 2012, and the infamous Stephen Strasberg  getting ready to start pitching this Sept.  Luckily for the Dodgers this young team does it's best work at home with a 28 - 18 record compared to the 20 - 32 road record. Going forward into the 2012 unlike the Dodgers the Nat's will be set at 2nd base, SS, 3rd base, catcher, right field, and left field.  Must be nice. To bad we are going to miss the NL debut of Chien-Ming Wang who I think gets to pitch next weekend after several years of rehab.

Disabled List:  Stephen Strasburg , Ivan Rodriguez, Adam LaRoche, Chien-Ming Wang

Positions:

1st Base: Luckily for the Nat's Adam LaRoche got hurt, before he was hurt he was the WORST offensive first baseman in baseball (.172/.288/.258) in 177 at bats. The Nat's are paying him $8,000,000 for that type of production. From what I gather they can buy him out of next years $10,000,000 option for 1 Million. I wonder what they are going to do? Talk about Night and Day, Michael Morse is now the everyday 1st baseman and his TSL is (.312/.361/.553) which ranks him among the top five NL 1st baseman.  Morse is another in the extremely long line of Ex - Seattle Mariners who have gotten a chance to play everyday and flourished. Morse is not slowing down either, he has a .974 OPS in July. 

2nd Base: Danny Espinosa at this point in the season looks like a lock for the ROY award except for the fact Kimbrel is still considered a rookie.. The slugging 2nd baseman leads all rookies in home runs (17), run batted in (55), runs scored (47), and ISO (.217). Just for fun his WAR is almost double of his next ROY competitor, teammate Wilson Ramos. Freddie Freeman and Ramos might have a say in this but given that Espinosa appears to be a defensive wizard, a 2nd baseman, and hitting at the same level as Freeman, he's my choice.  Compared to his 2nd base peers hes also a top five 2nd baseman. 

Shortstop: Everything is not golden for the Nationals. The SS of the future Ian Desmond may not be the SS of the future.  The more Desmond plays the less he looks like an everyday SS. Little average, no plate discipline, no power (.226 / .268 / .312).

3rd Base:  Ryan Zimmerman entered 2011 as the best 3rd baseman in the NL, maybe the best in baseball but he's had a tough go so far this year. He missed most of the year to injury and upon his return has been lackluster. We know what he's capable of, I would not pay much attention to the stats, he'll get going. 

Catcher: Is Wilson Ramos a reason to not pay attention to AAA stats? He entered 2010 as a fairly highly touted catching prospect for the Twins (ranked #58 by BA) but had an OPS of only .625 in AAA when the Twins traded him to the Nationals for Matt Capps. A trade the Twins gravely regretted in 2011 when Mauer went down and they had no catchers to replace him as they sank to the bottom of the AL West. Ramos free of the Twins minor league system went on to post an .835 OPS over the final month. He hit the ground running in 2011 as the Nat's everyday catcher, the 23 year old is now  one of the best young catchers in baseball. Plus he just keeps getting better. His OPS in July is a robust .989. That's right. .989. On July 22nd, the numbers one and two ROY candidates are playing for the same team. 

Right Fielder:  Statistically Jayson Werth has been very bad even if he was making the minimum, factor in the mammoth contract he signed this past offseason and you can understand if some Nat fans think they got shafted. Werth has not been this bad since he broke his wrist in 2005. His eye is still good as he still has that 100 point spread between batting average and on base average. The problem is the batting average is .218 and the slug% is .370. He has not slugged below .400 since 2005. Many will say he's simply paying the price for not playing in Philly anymore, but I'm going to reserve judgement, after all it has only been 3 1/2 months into the contract. For now he's a colossal disappointment, but things can change. 

Center Fielder: Mistakes in judgment might have cost the Nationals a real shot in 2011. They had Nyler Morgan, they decided he did not fit and sent him packing to the Brewers, where he is doing his best work to help lead the Brewers to a Central Division Pennant. To replace Morgan they brought in Rick Ankiel who was typically terrible. They are now using speedster Roger Bernadina who is a big improvement over Ankiel but he's no Nyler Morgan. To be fair, this may be the best baseball Nyler Morgan ever plays. 

Left Fielder: If you had looked at Lance Nix a month ago you'd have said, wow, what a season he's having. On June 5th he had on OPS of .911. Since then .648. Bringing us to his current OPS of .798 which is still good for a left fielder these days but a far cry  from his pre June 5th work. 

Bench:  Guess who sits on the Nat bench waiting for Broxton?

Starting Pitching:

Xeifrank Dodger Simulation Matchup
xFIP/tERA/SIERA
Matchup Fave Win% Total Runs
4.10 / 4.58 / 4.29
John Lannan versus Hiroki Kuroda LA 57.36 6.8
3.99 /4.26 / 3.70
Tom Gorzelanny versus Ted Lilly LA
3.75 / 4.42 / 3.91 Jason Marquis versus Chad Billingsley LA

 

Lefty Lannan doesn't strike out anyone but so far he's getting the job done. Lefty Gorzelanny could always strike people out but command was his problem, so far this year his command has improved and now he's the second best pitcher on the staff. Tom did turn an ankle but is expected to make this start. Is it any surprise the Cubs traded the good pitcher and kept the crappy ones. Has anyone noticed who the Cubs have been using in their rotation this year? Keith would be pleased as more then any TBLA member he was big on Gorzelanny.  Marquis is actually pitching well. Shit happens

Bullpen:

Setup:Henry Rodriquez has the second most innings out of the bullpen in July but has a strep throat so he may not pitch much this weekend. Look to see Tyler Clippard, Todd Coffey, and Ryan Mattheus, with lefty Sean Burnett getting the Andre call.

Closer: Drew Storen won the job and has not given up a run in July to go along his his six July saves.

I like this team. Put Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw on it,  and this would be the team I'd want to watch play for the next 10 years.

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