With a record of 95-67, the Washington Nationals finished 1st in the NL East, 8 games ahead of the second place New York Mets. In the NLDS, the Nationals lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 5 games. Star Trea Turner has moved to his natural position (SS), after the team acquired CF Adam Eaton. The Nats now have a stacked roster. To improve in the offseason, GM Mike Rizzo made some big moves. Let\’s see what Rizzo did.
Key additions: OF Adam Eaton, C Matt Wieters, 1B Adam Lind, RPs Joe Blanton, Enny Romero, Joe Nathan, Matt Albers, Neal Cotts, Vance Worley, 2B Grant Green.
Key subtractions: RPs Mark Melancon, Matt Belisle, Yusmeiro Petit, Marc Rzepczynski, 2B Danny Espinosa, C Wilson Ramos, OF Ben Revere, SPs Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Sean Burnett.
Biggest move: The Nats made one of the biggest trades this offseason, acquiring CF Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox for star pitching prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez (that\’s not the whole package they traded). Eaton is a 15 HR, 15 SB threat. Expect nice numbers for him with a better team.
X-factor: After an MVP winning 2015 season, Bryce Harper hit just 24 HRs in 2016. But, he did steal 21 bases. He hit a career low .243 in 506 ABs. If he wants to get that $400 million contract after next year, Harper needs to show he\’s worthy of that price this year.
Biggest bounce back: In 2016, 1B Ryan Zimmerman hit a career low .218. The former all-star hit 15 homers and 46 RBIs, the lowest RBI total in a full season. He hit under 15 homers twice in his career: 2014 (he only had 214 ABs that year) and 2011 (he had 395 ABs). Let\’s settle it, Zimmerman needs a better 2017.
Biggest breakout: In just 307 ABs in 2016, now SS Trea Turner hit .342 (!) and stole 33 bases. 13 homers isn\’t bad either. Turner is already a star in real life and fantasy (he was taken 3rd overall in my draft). To remind you, he\’s only 23.
Guaranteed star: After Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw, SP Max Scherzer is probably the 2nd best pitcher in the game. Last year, he struck out 284 batters in 228.1 innings. He had a 2.96 ERA, which would of led the AL if he played in that league.
The Nationals lineup should look like this.
1. CF: Adam Eaton
2. SS: Trea Turner
3. RF: Bryce Harper
4. 2B: Daniel Murphy
5. 3B: Anthony Rendon
6. LF: Jayson Werth
7. C: Matt Wieters
8. 1B: Ryan Zimmerman (platoon)
Their rotation will probably be this.
1. Max Scherzer
2. Stephen Strausburg
3. Tanner Roark
4. Gio Gonzalez
5. Joe Ross
C Jose Lobaton, 1B Adam Lind (platoon with Zimmerman), OFs Michael Taylor, Chris Heisey, SSs Wilmer Difo and Stephen Drew will be on the bench.
Blake Treinen will be their closer, with Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley setting him up.
Finally, for my prediction, I think the Washington Nationals will finish 1st in the NL East, but once again lose in the NLDS.