The Washington Nationals have followed up each division-winning/disappointing playoff loss season with an even more disappointing campaign. 2013 and 2015 were ravaged by poor performance, injuries, and a lack of overall depth. 2012 saw injuries to Jayson Werth and Michael Morse; Bryce Harper was a rookie. While we were relatively healthy, our bench was outstanding — “The Shark,” Roger Bernadina posted a career best 1.7 WAR, hitting .291/.372/.405. He was one of the best pinch-hitters in the league that year. Along with Bernadina, Tyler Moore had an .840 OPS; Chad Tracy posted a .784 OPS; post-deadline pickup and current Nat-killer Kurt Suzuki had a .725 OPS. All of them provided valuable, quality at-bats off the bench. They would all crater in 2013, as no one off the bench with more than 50 plate appearances had an OPS higher than .625. They did not have the depth to make up for injuries to Werth and Harper and the struggles of starters like Adam LaRoche. 2015 brought a mirror of 2013, with a struggling bullpen and horrible string of injuries that would see the opening day lineup together for just two games. They got a very good year from Clint Robinson annd a late season surge from Matt den Dekker, but they did not have enough to make up for injuries, under-performances, and Matt Williams.
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With the season a third of the way over and summer fast approaching, things couldn’t be going much better in the nation’s capital, at least as far as baseball is concerned. The Nationals are currently 36-20, good for a 11.5 game lead over the second place… (double-checks standings) Braves? The season is barely a third of the way over, and it looks like the Nats are well on their way to claiming the division title, their fourth in six years.
Despite all of their success, the Nationals still have a potential problem on the horizon, and that is their depth — or lack thereof. Although the Nationals have a commanding lead in their division, injuries happen, and the reserves will have to play well if the Nats hope to continue their hot start for the remainder of the season. Injuries and a lack of performance have already put the organizations depth to the test, and have produced varying results. With Jayson Werth on the DL, I thought it would be prudent to look at the Nationals current depth options, starting with the hitters, and see what they could bring to the team if called upon.
January is typically the doldrums of the MLB offseason. Never mind that it is just a few days until the two-year anniversary of the Nationals’ signing of Max Scherzer: At this point in the offseason, most teams have made their moves and are filling their teams out around the edges. The Nationals have surely already made their biggest move in offloading several top prospects for Adam Eaton.
As a college student home for Thanksgiving break, I have plenty of free time. And when I have plenty of free time in the offseason, I write about roster building. Borrowing an idea from Ryan Sullivan, AKA The Nats GM, I decided to do my own mock offseason, conducting trades and making signings to build a better 2017 Nationals team.
This is the second of three parts in my offseason preview series. If you want to know more about the methodology, check out part one here. You should also just read it anyway! How did you even get to part two first?