Monday, October 04, 2010

The 2010 Nats

The story of the 2010 Washington Nats is one of young players with potential and a whole lot of terrible defensive plays. Stephen Strasburg (5-3, 2.91), who had a sensational stretch, briefly made the franchise relevant. He's expected to miss the 2011 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The team's star, Gold Glove 3B Ryan Zimmerman, hit .307 with 25 HR and 82 RBI. 1B Adam Dunn, a free agent, hit behind Z. Dunn (.260, 38 HR, 103 RBI), who struck out 199 times, started the year with an inflated average that eventually came down. OF Josh Willingham only played in 114 games, but hit .268 with 16 HR and 56 RBI. The Nats had future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate. Pudge struggled at the plate, but was an invaluable member of the team. Fiery OF Nyjer Morgan (.253, 34 SB) had an off year.

But the future rests with its young players. Zimmerman is the cream of the crop among them. SS Ian Desmond (.269, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 17 SB) started to figure things out towards the end of the season. In the field, he has great range, but the rookie made 34 errors. OF Roger Benrnadina (11 HR, 47 RBIs, 16 SB) had a horrid slump at the end of the season, which clouded an otherwise impressive rookie season. 2B Danny Espinoza came up in September and showed prominence in the field and hit 6 HR and 15 RBI during the last month of the season despite a low average. C Wilson Ramos was acquired in a trade for Matt Capps and is a hot prospect. So is first round pick Bryce Harper.

The Nats spent money on starting pitching, but it didn't pan out. Jason Maquis and Chien-Ming Wang were oft injured. John Lannan (8-8, 4.65) was briefly sent down to the minors and Jordan Zimmermann struggled coming back from Tommy John surgery. Only Livan Hernandez (10-12, 3.66, 33 starts) was consistent. In all, 13 pitchers started at least a game for the Nats in 2010.

The best aspect of the Nats was its bullpen. Matt Capps had 26 saves before he was traded. Rookie Drew Storen was subsequently given the chance to close and performed well. Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett, and Joel Peralta were the pen's stalwarts.

Jim Riggleman will be back to manage the club next season after going 69-93 and finishing last in the division this year. But he had done a good job. Be that as it may, the Nats are not close. The defense was atrocious, the offense was sluggish, and the starting pitching was awful. Strasburg was the only starter to register a winning record. There will be a few more years of nose-picking and glue-eating for this young team.

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