The Nationals sacrificed part of the future in order to win now. With a couple of new pieces in the lineup, what is the value of everyone around them?
Entering this season, the Washington Nationals did not need to improve on much. They were the best team in their division, finishing 95-67, and one of the best overall teams in baseball. However, that wasn’t enough as the front office made a couple of trades.
The team added a replacement catcher and outfielder to the mix. I like both players they added, but they gave up a lot in order to get them. The current offense with these two new players will make for a dangerous one through eight.
The starting pitching was one of the best rotations in the league. They finished with a 3.60 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, second in both categories.
The bullpen struggled a bit, mostly because of one relief pitcher. Yet, the bullpen still finished second in ERA and WHIP as well. Unfortunately, they don’t have a clear-cut closer that is worth drafting.
Looking at my preliminary rankings, I have 11 Nationals players in my top-300. If you read my previous team previews, I only talked about my top 250. With leagues having more than the standard 10 teams, I felt it necessary to expand the list.
There are a couple of position players on the team that aren’t ranked. The Nationals catcher, first baseman, and closer do not appear on my list. There are plenty of other players at each position, so you can skip the Nationals’ players unless you’re a big fan of them.
As I mentioned, the Nationals starting rotation is one of the best in the league. Led by Max Scherzer, the rotation features Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark and Joe Ross.
The team and Ross tried to bring in his brother Joe, but he just signed with the Texas Rangers.
Scherzer was the team’s best pitcher. He had a 2.96 ERA, 0.968 WHIP and a 20-7 record in 34 starts. He also had 284 strikeouts and 56 walks in 228.1 innings. Scherzer is my No. 2 starting pitcher.
Roark, in his third full season, was the second-best pitcher in the rotation. He had a better ERA, 2.83, with a 1.171 WHIP and 16-10 record. His 172 strikeouts and 210 innings were career highs.
Strasburg had another shortened season. He made just 24 starts, after making 23 in 2015. His stats weren’t all bad, 3.60 ERA and 1.104 WHIP. The downside is his health. Can you trust him? I will do my best to avoid drafting him in my leagues. He’s my SP16, but only because of what he can do in a full season.
Gonzalez and Ross are my SP57 and SP68, respectively. They are good bench options, especially pitching in the National League East.
I apologize, but my picture database could not locate a picture of Shawn Kelley in a Nationals uniform.
The Nationals had Jonathan Papelbon has their closer for the first half of the season. He had 19 saves in 21 chances with a 2.83 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. However, there were off-the-mound issues that resulted in his removal from the role.
As we prepare for 2017, the Nationals don’t have a true closer. The team has Kelley as the leading candidate, but Blake Treinen can challenge him. Kelley had a 2.64 ERA, 0.897 WHIP and seven saves in 67 appearances. Treinen had a 2.28 ERA and 1.224 WHIP in 73 games.
There are also some solid options still available on the free-agent market, like Greg Holland or Shawn Tolleson. I think the Nationals should sign at least one of them for depth.
Kelley sits atop the depth chart, but I think there will be a mix of pitchers getting save chances. As a result, I can’t draft any Washington relief pitcher with confidence.
The Nationals have a solid, power threat infield.
The team lost catcher Wilson Ramos to free agency, and eventually the Tampa Bay Rays. As a result, they brought in Derek Norris.
Ryan Zimmerman is still at first base. Daniel Murphy holding down second, Trea Turner is back at his natural position of shortstop, and Anthony Rendon is at third.
Zimmerman is outside my top-20 first basemen. He hit 15 home runs and 46 RBI and a .218 average. You don’t need that on your team.
Murphy is the anchor of this infield. His 25 homers, 104 RBI, and .347 average led all Nationals hitters. I don’t expect that high of an average, but his power his legit. He is my No. 4 second baseman.
Turner is the youngest player in the lineup. He hit 13 home runs, 40 RBI and .342 in 307 at bats. he also stole 33 bases. If he plays a full season, he could compete with Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton for the NL stolen base title.
Rendon had 20 homers, 85 RBI and a .270 average. He is a solid third baseman and will be a steal, no pun intended, in standard leagues. I think he’ll be drafted in the 13th round. He ranks just inside my top-15 third basemen.
The second player the Nationals traded for this offseason was outfielder Adam Eaton. The front office gave up a lot, but if he can be who we think he is, then the Nationals got a top-25 outfielder.
Eaton had a similar stat line over the last two seasons. He hit 14 HR/56 RBI/18 SB/.287 in 2015 and 14 HR/59 RBI/14 SB/.284 last season. Surrounded by a better team in Washington, I can see Eaton going for 20 HR/70 RBI/15/.285 this season.
If fantasy owners are going to use an early draft pick on Bryce Harper, he will have to perform better than he did last season. In 147 games, he hit 24 home runs, 86 RBI and .243. I’ve seen him ranked as a top-10 player, but with those numbers, he doesn’t profile as one.
If Harper can perform somewhere in between his 2015 and 2016 seasons, then he will be worth a pick that high. I think 35 home runs, 95 RBI and .280 to .290 is a likely stat line.
Jayson Werth is the third outfielder. His 21 home runs and 69 RBI are nice as an off-day fill in. He isn’t worth drafting as a starter in standard league and has little value in NL-only leagues.
The Nationals have the fourth-most fantasy-relevant players entering this season. All five of their starting pitchers will be owned in one league or another. Two of the three outfielders will be off the board early. The second baseman, shortstop, and third base will be taken as well.
This will be a fun team to watch from both real and fantasy aspects of the game next season.