1/3 Way Through Season: Washington Nationals Evaluation

Well, we’re right around the corner of the one third way through the 2017 MLB season, with the 54th game being June 3. And there’s plenty to talk about.

  1. Adam Eaton
    • Poor Mighty Mouse. As, well, everyone should know by now, Eaton tore his ACL racing into first base. He was playing spectacularly prior to his injury both offensively (hitting .297) and defensively catching anything that dared creep into his section of center field. The team responded well the first game he was out though, racking up twenty-three runs against the Mets.
  2. The Bullpen
    • Two words that can jolt any Nationals fan from a deep sleep, the bullpen has been… unpredictable, to say the least. Dusty has experimented with a few different closer combinations, alternating between Blake Treinen and Shawn Kelley early in the season, and more recently turning to Koda Glover to handle the closing routine, with some recent success, actually. *knocks on wood* You just never know with them.
  3. Michael A. Taylor
    • Now, I know I was just bemoaning the loss of Mighty Mouse earlier, but if anyone was going to take over for Eaton, M.A.T. was the man to do it. A year removed from his up-and-down season in replacement of Ben Revere (which saw the rise of Trea Turner from obscurity to NL Rookie of the Year Finalist in less than seventy-three games.) Regardless, Taylor has played great both offensively and defensively in replacement of Eaton.
  4. Bryce Harper
    • As I’m writing for this, the Nationals announced that Harper’s suspension for the worst helmet throw in MLB history and for introducing his fist to Hunter Strickland’s face has been reduced to only three games, which he’ll be serving immediately into the 1/3rd way of the season.
    • Let’s compare Harper’s stats from this season so far compared to his stats at this point in the season in 2015, which you may remember, is the season Harper won MVP.
       2015  2017
       AVG  .323  .322
       R  53  56
       H  42  44
       HR  18  15
       RBI  43  41
       BB  44  33
    • About on par with each other, honestly. Harper could conceivably replicate his mythic numbers from only two seasons ago.
    • More important though, is that Harper won MVP because his team struggled when he struggled or was not on the field. This time around, everyone, is playing better. Werth, Murphy, Zimmerman, Rendon, Trea, even Taylor and now Wieters; they are a more cohesive offensive unit that’s built off of that similar style from last year in the 2016 season. When all coordinated (and not down by double digits because of a pitching gaffe), this team is the best offense in baseball. Possibly… to become one of the best of all time? *knocks on wood again*
  5. Ryan Zimmerman
    • It’s hard to understate how much of an impact having a veteran like Ryan Zimmerman is just on the team; for team morale and for helping younger players and for simple consistency. But when that veteran is also raking like nobody else in the MLB, well, that’s sprinkles on the sundae. Harper might be the face of the franchise (barring, of course, money) but history will mark Ryan Zimmerman as the first truly great Washington National.

That’s all I have to really touch on for now. I mean, we are only one third of the way through the season. All or much of this could be moot in only one months time. Let’s hope the good parts keep on staying good and the bad parts… uh, stop happening.

Watching this team every week can go from awe-inspiring to depressing to anxiety inducing. They truly are one of the best teams in the league, as they always seem to be year-in and year-out.

This year feels different, but we’ve felt different before. And since, let’s call it, the “Harper Era” of the Nationals began in 2012, the Nats have alternated between being amazing to being dreadful (at least in the regular season; they always kind of suck in the playoffs, unfortunately.) Maybe they can finally buck the trend and make it to the playoffs in consecutive years.

But in the world of DC sports, I’ve learned to not expect anything but the worst.

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