One thing that is apparent when looking at the Washington Nationals’ depth chart for outfielders is that the organization has a problem. Fortunately, it is a good problem to have, as the Nationals have managed to build and maintain a solid crop of outfielders that may very well help the team as it approaches a pivotal point in its future.
Welcome back to the latest in a series, in which we review the previous week in Nationals baseball and power rank the players according to their performance. This is an extremely unserious exercise; at no point should it ever be confused with actual baseball analysis. Don’t worry, I will do my best to make sure that is obvious. Without further ado: your Washington Nationals, ranked according to power.
Hearts of Nationals fans everywhere were broken when it was made clear that Wilson Ramos would not be returning to the Nationals for the 2017 season. The catcher lovingly nicknamed “The Buffalo” was in the last year of his contract, suffered a torn ACL near the end of the season, and ended up signing with the Tampa Bay Rays in the offseason. So the question remained: who could replace the fan-favorite coming off the best season of his career?
Court Swift has already written about the importance of the head-to-head matchup against the Mets this year. I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment, considering all the facts before us. I want to go further, however, and contend that all things being equal, the single biggest factor in determining the division race this year will be Daniel Murphy.
Debate over who should lead off for the Nationals began as soon as Mike Rizzo dealt three top pitchers (they may leave our farm system, but never our hearts) for Adam Eaton. Eaton’s calling card was his ability to lead off and play great outfield defense – two things Trea Turner did for the 2016 version of the Nats. But Eaton took Turner’s centerfield spot, so Turner took Danny Espinosa‘s shortstop job, and Danny was sent home to California to grow his beard. Turner managed to keep his leadoff job coming out of spring training, but not coming off the DL as Dusty Baker used the return of Turner to switch a few things up. I wouldn’t stop there — I’d go a step further. Here would be my lineup:
The Nationals have finished either 1st or 2nd in the NL East every year since 2012, winning in ’12, ’14, and ’16.
The Mets have finished either 1st or 2nd in the NL East every since 2014, winning in ’15.
Some days the universe works against you. It laughs at the person realizing they studied the wrong chapters for an exam or at the person getting in the wrong metro car on their commute to work. Some days, the culmination of events is just so perverse that it laughs at you as the person who spilled their drink on you at the game recounts every life event that led them there — the same guy who spent the first five innings explaining why the Matt Williams joke he heard you tell is wrong.
Every Nats fan knows June 8, 2010. The immortal Charlie Slowes bellowed the now-famous line: “Remember where you are, so you remember where you were!” It was voted one of the Five Greatest Moments in Nationals history. The “Natinals” were a laughing stock after the incredible 50-31 run in the first half of 2005, compiling a 362 -529, a paltry .406 winning percentage since. Stephen Strasburg’s debut was the first tangible fruit of “The Plan.” His debut filled Nationals Park with a playoff-like atmosphere, and he did not disappoint.
As we all know, the past year has been rough on the Nationals’ minor league system. Trades and promotions have turned what was once an excellent farm into just a mediocre one, with only a handful of high-end prospects remaining. While all of these moves have been done for the betterment of the major league club, the farm system is still in need of some restocking at all levels. With a low draft pick combined with a small bonus pool, as well as a cap on international spending after blowing through the cap last July 2nd, the traditional methods of restocking the farm offer limited near term value.