The Nationals made the playoffs last year after winning the NL East and captivating the nation’s Capital with some thrilling, though ultimately unsuccessful, October baseball. The Nats are reloaded and many consider them to be the favorite in the NL East or even the whole National League. With a team this well-stocked with talent, there’s sure to be fantasy baseball value.
For today’s installment of our Starting 9 series (archive here), we’re privileged to be joined by Jared Book the Co-editor of District on Deck, the Fansided site focues on the Nats. Here’s his responses to our nine basic questions headed into the season.
1. Did your team do a good job this offseason?
Yes. It would have been easy to say that they had the best record in baseball and rest on their laurels while every one else tried to catch them. They didn’t. They went out and got Denard Span for less than it would have cost to get one of the other center fielders on the market and signed Dan Haren to replace Edwin Jackson and signed Rafael Soriano out of nowhere to sure up their bullpen.
2. Who is the key player to your team’s success this year?
Bryce Harper. The pitching will have to come through and be good so it would have been easy to put Strasburg, Gonzalez or Zimmermann here but Harper has the chance to be not only a good player this season but a great one. There are question marks on Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond and whether they can repeat last season’s success. A great season from Harper could make that a non-issue.
3. Who is a position player many people may not know about who is going to have a breakout season?
Harper? Kidding. I think people have heard of him. I will say Wilson Ramos. There are big question marks surrounding his comeback from injury, but in terms of a breakout, he was on his way until he got hurt last year. If he can get the starting spot from Kurt Suzuki and heal up nicely, his bat could surprise some people.
4. What starting pitcher is going to have a surprisingly good season?
Dan Haren. Not many other options for a surprise, but I think Haren can bounce back and a return to the National League doesn’t hurt.
5. How does your team’s bullpen look going into this coming year especially at the closer position?
It looks deep. Rafael Soriano is the closer right now but Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen would be closers for almost any other team in the league and could get save opportunities as well.
6. Who do you think is the most “over-rated” player on your team?
Adam LaRoche, I think. He will probably have an alright season but anyone expecting him to repeat last year could be in for a disappointment.
7. Are there any rookies that will impact the team from the beginning of the season or as a midseason call-up?
Anthony Rendon is probably the position player who can make a big impact this season. He will probably start the season in the minors, but with him playing 3 positions in Spring Training, he can take the role of super sub and start 2-4 times a week by the middle of the season if he proves his bat is Major League ready. On the pitching side, I love Christian Garcia. If he stays healthy, he can have a surprising impact should injuries hit the starting rotation.
8. What would be considered a successful season for your team?
Nothing short of an NLCS appearance. If the team doesn’t improve on last season in the post-season, it will be a disappointment.
9. What exciting things do you have coming up on your site this season?
Wall-to-wall coverage. We have a great team of writers and will be focusing not only on breaking news and recaps but also little things within each game that may have been overlooked elsewhere. If there was a pitch that made a difference, we’ll be talking about it.
Special thanks to Jared for sharing his insight with us for this post. If you’re a Nats fan, District on Deck is a must. They’ve run a whole series of fantasy previews as well which are great material as you work on your draft prep. They have a great staff and really solid coverage of all things Nationals. Make sure to add their coverage to your daily Fansided email update and add the FantasyCPR content under “Extras.”
Come back throughout the rest of spring training for more fantasy baseball previews from the baseball writers across the FanSided network.