Over the next week or so, we’ll be posting a few articles about who will and who won’t be making the Washington Nationals roster on Opening Day 2012. This is always an interesting adventure that can be drastically changed by unexpected trades and offseason acquisitions; we’ll try to be Nostradamus anyway. Once we finish the series, we’ll hold ourselves accountable in the Spring once the roster is made official. Feel free to hit us up on Twitter (@TheNatsBlogJoe), on Facebook, or in the Comments if you agree or disagree.
Today, we’ll discuss position players that are roster locks: those that will make the roster unless they’re hurt.
Ryan Zimmerman: Zimmerman is the no-brainer here. The franchise player who is due an absurdly long extension and a bunch of money, hopefully this offseason, will certainly be with the team on Opening Day. If he’s healthy, next year should be yet another year that shows why Zimm is among the best 3rd basemen in all of baseball.
Jayson Werth: Werth is the $126 million man, so there’s no chance he doesn’t show up to start next season. Not to mention, after a devastatingly bad start, Werth ended up the season with a 2.5 WAR, a reasonable 20 HR, and sported a .255/.345/.426 slash line for a .770 OPS in the 2nd half. Werth won’t start next season like he did this season, and that alone will help the team tremendously.
Michael Morse: We’ve covered Morse’s value in excruciating detail this season, most recently in the post Nationals MVP: Michael Morse. The title basically speaks for itself, but numbers and explanation is inside.
Danny Espinosa: Espinosa started the year as a Rookie of the Year candidate and will get votes for the NL Gold Glove at 2nd base. His offensive numbers likely aren’t good enough to get him the Gold Glove, talk about ludicrous reasoning, and he’s a rookie, which doesn’t help. Look for Espinosa to be a crucial part of the Nats infield next year and for many years to come.
Wilson Ramos: This young catcher’s first full major league season was, by all accounts, a resounding success. He ended the season with a .267/.334/.445 slash line and 15 homers, which is exactly what you hope to get from him. Not to mention, he was good for 3.1 WAR. Ramos’ claim to fame is his defense, and he had a great year behind the plate, too. He’s the catcher of the Nats future folks, so welcome to it.
Adam LaRoche: This is the large IF. If he’s healthy, LaRoche will be there. He’s slated to make $8 million, and that alone is reason to be a starter. If he’s not healthy, he’ll be on the DL, and Michael Morse will probably get some more time at 1st base.
So there it is, the position players that we believe are guaranteed to appear on the Nationals 2012 Opening Day 25-man roster. Next time, we’ll talk about the pitchers who are locks for next year’s roster. Stay tuned…