Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 2/24/14
Washington Nationals: Projected lineup for 2014 seasonThe Nationals are coming off a 2013 season marked by high expectations and low achievement. Luckily for the Nationals there is next year. They have been able to keep almost all of their players from last season, as well as acquiring Doug Fister to replace Dan Haren. Below is the Nationals’ projected starting lineup for the 2014 season as well as comments for each player. Obviously, the Nationals’ lineup is a streaky one so expect to see things shuffled around as Matt Williams gets used to his new job. Denard Span-Last year Denard Span had to be one of the most disappointing players for the Nationals. Even though he narrowly underachieved his career average numbers, hitting .279/.327/.380, almost all of his production came when the Nationals were out of the division race anyway. Span hit a meager .260/.320/.358 before the all-star break, while hitting .302/.337/.413 post All-Star break. Jason Werth-Even though from time to time it looks like Jason Werth has another mammal growing on his face, he did not let it distract him from hitting .318/.398/.532 with 25 homers and 82 RBI’s in just 129 games. By being so efficient he was one of the main reasons the Nats’ offense was not even worse than it was last season. If he can put together a season like this in 2014 while staying healthy he would at least put himself in position for an NL MVP, and in such a free spending market, Werth could find himself a nice fat contract in the offseason…Oh, wait. Ryan Zimmerman- Adam Laroche, as well as fans sitting behind first base, are probably still having nightmares about Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing motion at the hot corner. However, as long as Zimmerman can fix up his defense and be slightly more disciplined at the plate, he had a career high strikeout percentage at 21% in 2013, there is no reason he cannot have a productive year. Bryce Harper-Yes, Nats’ fans Steven Strasburg and Bryce Harper, the 2nd and 3rd coming respectively have arrived in the flesh and neither have disappointed. The window of opportunity has been opened. Both are Boras clients however, so the question for Harper is really whether he will hit 50 home runs in a Nationals uniform or for someone else. Harper is a tremendous talent already at the age of 21 and it is just a matter of time before he has a massive breakout season. So long as he avoids Dodger Stadium’s right field wall. Adam Laroche-Definitely a bounceback player of the year canidate for 2014, Laroche will need to improve on his abysmal 2013 season. In years when he played at least 100 games, Laroche had a career low OPS at .735. Keep the faith for now at least, since Laroche still managed 20 homers despite a .237 batting average in 2013. Ian Desmond- Although it may appear that Desmond has entered his prime, there could still be better things to come for the 27 year old shortstop, who now has two silver sluggers to back up the work he has put in to become one of the better shortstops in the game. I don’t see him hitting second like some people do because of his “swing for the fences” approach at the plate, backed up by a rising SO% at 22.1% last year. He simply does not put the ball in play enough to hit near the top of the lineup. He could certainly be a viable 5 hitter if Laroche struggles to begin the season. Wilson Ramos- The only thing standing between Wilson Ramos and a breakout season is a stat called games played. Comparing his only two 100+ game seasons in 2011 and 2013, there is definitely an upward trend. Not only did he amass similar HR and RBI totals between the two seasons 15 and 52 in 2011 and 16 and 59 in 2013, but he did it in 35 less games as well. If once upon a Braves’ fan needed more proof, Ramos went from a 17.5 SO% to a 13.9 SO% between 2011 and 2013, demonstrating a better knowledge of the strike zone. Now that Kurt Suzuki is gone, the catching duties have been given to Ramos full time. If he can stay on the field without fatiguing, the Nationals could have a top of the line catcher on their hands. Anthony Rendon- Still in the prospect phase of his career, Rendon has shown plenty of promise and was rated the #30 overall prospect by Baseball America before 2013. At this point it is still too early to tell the full story on Rendon. Expectations for him shouldn’t be that high, and barring a turnaround by Danny Espinosa, Rendon should be an almost every day player at second base. Pitcher-Even the pitchers did underachieve last year in their limited offensive role. It seemed like last season whenever the Nationals needed to move a runner with the pitcher, it just wouldn’t happen. Especially in the NL, sac bunting is something pitchers just need to be able to do if the Nationals want to be able to compete with the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Braves. isportsweb | isportsweb - Sports in Perspective
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