Nationals Are Banking On A Trio Of Players To Have Comeback Seasons In 2016
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Bryce Harper fashioned one of the greatest years we have ever seen by a 22 year old, and the Washington Nationals still only finished with a 83 – 79 record – and plenty of victories behind the NL Playoff Bar.
Harper took home the MVP efforts, and has to be wondering if his supporting cast has his back for the 2016 campaign – if he can make it safely to base at least 300 times again like he did in 2015.
Perhaps the biggest factor Washington struggled down the stretch was injury. Ryan Zimmerman couldn’t stay on the field – despite racking up a productive 74 RBI on 346 PA.
Denard Span missed 101 games, which is definitely too bad considering the squad was 36 – 25 in games he was featured in.
Jayson Werth never got on track after injuries plagued him early and often – and had his worst year in a decade – after finishing with top 18 votes for MVP in the previous two seasons.
2014 stalwart Anthony Rendon only mustered a half a season of injury riddled play at a .707 OPS after putting forth a Silver Slugger campaign – with a top 5 MVP vote the previous year.
Ian Desmond also had added a horrible 1st half of the year, before he corrected his problems at the plate, and stopped booting the ball around in the second half.
Both Desmond and Span left the Washington franchise as Free Agents. The club will also be without Yunel Escobar, who was traded away after hitting a nice .315 clip in 2015.
If Zimmerman, Werth and Rendon can’t stay healthy in the upcoming season, it might not matter if Harper is the best hitter on the planet again in 2016.
Since Jayson Werth enters his age 37 season, it may be too much to ask for him to register 600 Plate Appearances, but if he could turn out a 500 PA effort, and his Nats lifetime .805 OPS, that would be gravy for a club that faces an easy Division to play in the NL East.
I fully think he could hit .280/.360/.440 – with plenty of Extra Base Hits in his arsenal. His OBP was a paltry .302 and his Slugging was just .384 last year.
Werth has 2 years left on his deal with Washington, and has been a pivotal leader in shaping this team into a contender.
It will be hard to justify his $126 MIL payday over 7 years with just 78 HRs and 295 RBI in his time in the District so far, yet he has a chance to really finish the script nicely if he can help a club back to the postseason – and this time advance.
Zimmerman was started to become comfortable at 1B, and keyed a massive May winning streak – that saw them jump into the NL East lead.
A .283/.349/.475 career hitter, he is very important to the organization in going forward. He is 5 years removed from back to back Silver Slugger Awards – and his body has failed him in the field, however he can still be a #4 hitter on this team.
If Rendon, Werth and Harper all do their jobs getting on base, you could see Zimmerman having his best year in many seasons upcoming. I am thinking 20+ HRs and 100 – 110 RBI is definitely achieve-able.
Zimmermann will earn a decent sum of cash for the next 4 years at $60 MIL total, with a Team Option for $18 MIL in 2020. He is slated to be the clubs First Baseman for that time frame, so it is paramount he starts enjoying healthy seasons.
Anthony Rendon was one of the best players in the Nationals League in 2014. Knee injuries had him sidelined to begin 2015, and he never got back on track.
His playing was also dropped because of a great season by Yunel Escobar, and at least a decent start by fellow Infielder Danny Espinosa.
Washington cleared the deck of for Third Base by trading Escobar to the Angels for Relief Pitcher Trevor Gott.
The Nats also brought in Free Agent Daniel Murphy to the fold, but losing Span, Escobar and Desmond will sting a little more if the three players we talked about here – don’t have bounce back campaigns.
Max Scherzer is about as solid as they get for a Starter right now. He threw 2 no hitters last year – and almost tallied a 3rd one in late September. He was dominant, and say for a poor stretch in post the ALL – Star Break, was everything the Nats had hoped for.
The sabermetric community love the Nationals team so much that many of them have projected them to win the division over the Mets.
While I agree the Nats should be better in 2016, I am thinking the Mets Starting Staff will out-duel Washington’s down the stretch, and hold them off for the National League.
I am picking Washington to win the 1st Wild Card game and then knock out the Cardinals in the Wild Card Game. If Strasburg and Scherzer are both on – they could potentially beat out all teams towards a World Series berth.
This would mean that Rendon, Werth and Zimmerman would probably be key cogs in the 1 – 6 portion of their lineup.
All 3 could be in the running for “NL Comeback Player of the Year” with big years.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
A Big thanks goes out to our chief writer Hunter Stokes for preparing today’s feature post.
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Posted on March 3, 2016, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged anthony rendon, bryce harper, Clint Robinson, Daniel Espinosa, daniel murphy, denard span, dusty baker, ian desmond, jayson werth, los angeles angels, matt williams, max scherzer, Michael A. Taylor, new york mets, NL east, nl mvp, ryan zimmerman, stephen strasburg, washington nationals, yunel escobar. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Nationals Are Banking On A Trio Of Players To Have Comeback Seasons In 2016.