Saturday, December 1, 2012

Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals (98-64) – First Place NL East, Division Champs

There were a ton of big stories surrounding the Nationals in 2012, but none were bigger than the innings limit placed on Stephen Strasburg before the season started.  GM Mike Rizzo dealt with a lot of grief over it, but sometimes you have to protect your assets.  Among these is another number 1 overall pick, Bryce Harper.  The teen phenom provided a huge spark to the Nats, and along with Mike Trout, appears to be a superstar for years to come.  Even though they suffered a heartbreaking playoff loss to the Cardinals, the future remains bright in the nation’s capital.

Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are the future of Major League Baseball

Pitchers- The Nationals starting rotation was flat out awesome in 2012.  Like the Reds, injuries were almost non-existent, leading them to only used 8 starters, and part of that was due to shutting down Stephen Strasburg in September.  Before getting shut down, Strasburg was great, winning 15 games and sporting an ERA of 3.16, to go along with 197 strikeouts in just under 160 innings.  After being acquired for a hefty package of prospects in the off-season, Gio Gonzalez was excellent, finishing third in the Cy Young voting thanks to his 21 wins and 2.89 ERA.  Fellow Division 3 alum (UW-Stevens Point) Jordan Zimmerman continued the trend, winning 12 games while maintaining a 2.94 ERA.  The other 2 starters, Ross Detwiler and Edwin Jackson, both won 10 games.  Detwiler had a 3.40 ERA and Jackson’s was 4.03.  Closer Drew Storen got hurt before the season started, leaving the role to Henry Rodriguez and eventually Tyler Clippard.  Clippard was excellent, converting 32 of his 37 opportunities.  The rest of the bullpen, including Sean Burnett, Craig Stammen, and Ryan Mattheus, were fantastic all season long.

Stephen Strasburg (left), Gio Gonzalez (middle), and Jordan Zimmerman (Right)
give the Nationals three young talented pitchers that should lead them for years

Infield- The infield for the Nationals was a powerful one in 2012, with the 4 main starters hitting a combined 100 home runs.  As Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman goes, the Nationals go.  Zimmerman remained healthy most of the year, which allowed him to hit .282 with 25 home runs and 92 RBIs.  First baseman Adam LaRoche led the team in both home runs, with 33, and RBIs, with 100.  Up the middle, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond provide a rare mix of speed and power.  Both hit at least 15 home runs and both stole over 20 bases.  Desmond even provided some average, hitting .292.

Zimmerman is the heart and soul of the Nationals

Outfield- Injuries were a bit of a problem in the outfield for the Nationals, but when healthy, their regulars are extremely talented.  Both left fielder Michael Morse and right fielder Jayson Werth missed significant amounts of time due to injury.  Werth when healthy was very good, hitting .300 despite the power numbers not being there.  Morse was also excellent, hitting .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs in just over 100 games.  National League Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper was an absolute shot in the arm for the Nats.  The teenager ended up at .270 thanks to a late season hot streak, and he hit 22 home runs and stole 18 bases.  Tyler Moore, filling in for Morse, provided a ton of power as well.  Moore hit 10 home runs in just 156 at bats.  If the Nationals are unable to re-sign Adam LaRoche, look for Moore to slide into the lineup either in left field or at first base.

Harper provided some much needed energy for the Nats

Twitter Account of the Day- Bryce Harper @Bharper3407

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Come back tonight for Chris' hot stove daily wrap up and check in Monday for Wade's review on the surprise Oakland Athletics