2010 Rewind: It was another typical season for the Nationals in 2010. Since moving to the nation’s capitol in 2005 the former Expos club has finished in last place all but once – they were in fourth in 2007. The team played winning baseball in April and was at .500 at the end of May before the real losing began. They hit the cellar on June 11 and never got out of it. But, the Nationals 69 wins was 10 more than each of the last two seasons and they are optimistic about the future.
The Good: Ryan Zimmerman won his second straight Silver Slugger award with 25 HR, 85 RBI and a .307 batting average. While those power numbers are down from the previous season, it was the first time he finished over .300 in a full season. There are a lot of great third baseman in the game today and Zimmerman is near the top of the list. On the mound, Livan Hernandez had a good year posting his best ERA (3.66) since playing for, well, the Expos in 2004. More importantly for the Nationals he logged 211 innings giving a weak bullpen much needed rest. Hernandez will take the ball on opening day for Washington in 2011.
The Bad: Although he had only pitched in a handful of games many people thought Stephen Strasburg should have been placed on the All-Star team. The young star struck out 14 batters in his debut June 8 and continued to pitch well through the summer. Unfortunately his season ended in late August with an injury to his forearm which led to Tommy John surgery in September. While the franchise still hopes Strasburg will be an ace of the staff for many years, he may miss all of 2011.
Biggest Loss: In his two years with Washington, Adam Dunn launched 76 HRs and drove in 208 runs. But his defense became a liability for the team. He was relegated to playing only first base last season where he committed 13 errors, the second most in the NL. He became a free agent and signed with the White Sox. The team dealt much maligned outfielder Nyjer Morgan to Milwaukee as spring training wore down.
Best Addition: One of the biggest stories in the off-season was the Nationals signing of Jayson Werth. In the last three seasons, all with the Phillies, Werth hit 87 HRs with 251 RBI and a .279 batting average. The team will count on him for some power in the middle of the lineup.
Fantasy Slant: There are not many players better at third base than Zimmerman and he could put up better numbers than each of them. Werth may not be able to replicate some of his stats outside of the Philly lineup and he may be picked too early in a lot of fantasy drafts. Adam LaRoche will play first base every day for the Nats and could be a nice late pick to fill in a corner position.
Final Take: With very little depth at pitching, the Nationals don’t have much of a chance at a winning season in 2011. But the offense and defense should be better this year and they have plenty of hope for the future…2011 Record – 62-100, last in the NL East.
Fantasy Baseball, MLB